Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Ultimate Fashion Week Survival Guide

Fashion month is not an expedition to the South Pole or the Amazonian jungle, granted. But it's far from your average office day, as you all know (and you all know it because fashion people will happily complain about how perfectly awful fashion month is to anyone that will listen.) The truth is, it's mainly just really tiring. Shows begin rather early in the morning and meetings end late at night, meaning you have to do all your work at night in your hotel room, coping with jetlag (I'm doing New York, London and Paris this season), not eating any nutritious food and basically having your mind occupied 100% by fashion thoughts. It can all turn into a nightmare pretty fast.
Which is why I'm bringing you this Ultimate Fashion Week Survival Guide. Note the word "Ultimate": this is not your average guide filled with nonsense like "My Alexander Wang bag keeps me grounded and feeling fabulous at all times during FW. I never get out of the house without it", which is what you basically find when you google "fashion week survival guide". We (fashion people) are not that shallow and, after all, surviving FW depends on much more important things than designer hats, gloves and shoes. So here are my Ten Commandments. Following them, or trying to (hey, we're only human) guarantees a little less stress and tiredness and a lot more mental health during this proving month.

1. Cling to your iPhone charger as if your life depended on it. Which it does, sort of.

Do not, I repeat, do not forget your iPhone charger home (unless you're pretty sure the Vodafone charging drawers are available in Somerset House). Running out of battery in the middle of a 14- hour workday can prove a bummer and a major catastrophe as you will not be able to answer e-mails, call people, tweet or instagram. Possible consequences: coming home at 1 am to 76 urgent e-mails to answer, not being able to locate shows, presentations, friends or drivers, and loss of social media popularity as nobody saw your pictures of the Burberry show. And yes, I speak out of experience.

2. Your new BFF's name is Dry Shampoo.

Having to wake up at 6 am to wash, condition and style your hair after having slept 3 hours. That's my idea of hell. Thank God someone invented dry shampoo. Just spray some of this miracle dust (Klorane is my favourite brand) with a little head massage in the morning and go out feeling fabulous. No one needs to know you're really a filthy pig who hasn't washed her hair in 6 days.

3. FORGET heels.

I cannot stress the word FORGET enough. And by FORGET I don't mean "wear heels in the morning and carry a pair of ballerinas for backup" or "wear ballerinas in the subway and change when you get next to Lincoln Center" or "take flip flops in your bag to change at the end of the day". I mean plain FORGET about them. There's a time and a place for heels. Fashion Week is not it. Heels might be cool for Victoria Beckham to take a bow on the runway or for Daphne Guinness at the Gareth Pugh show, but they are not adequate attire for us fashion proletarians running to the press bus, or from the car, or in the macadam at the Marais. They are physically and mentally dangerous. I've seen many a fabulous stylist fall face flat on the floor, subsequently losing all dignity. And everyone knows when your feet hurt you can't concentrate on anything else, and life just generally loses its meaning.

4. Try not to completely ruin your health by eating crap and drinking nothing but coffee.

The amount of nutrition-free food being passed around in every Fashion Week on the planet (remember that season we all lived out of Tyrrell's popcorn in London?) makes it pretty difficult to maintain a balanced diet. However, ditching Starbucks Frapuccinos and Pret-a-Manger cake for fruit snacks and green juice (I know, it makes me gag too, but I do feel incredibly energized after drinking it) will be helpful in keeping you feeling human, more or less. 

5. Sleep is underrated.

After a while the "work hard party hard" philosphy just doesn't work. GET SOME SLEEP! Go out a couple of nights every week, maybe party until the wee hours once a week, but try to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep every night the rest of the time. Your body and mind will thank you. And I tell you, parading around the Tuileries gardens in your J W Anderson skirt and Sophie Hulme bag won't make up for the fact that after 3 weeks of sleeping 4 hours a day you're far from a pretty sight.

6. Friends will help you keep sane.

It's no secret that fashion is the refuge of clowns, freaks, weirdos and sociopaths of every kind. And they all get together during Fashion Week. The bitchiness can be unbearable, so get yourself a nice group of clever, grounded, lovely fashion friends (cool people are abundant in this industry too!) and get out there with confidence. 

7. Whenever you feel completely inadequate, remind yourself everyone else feels the same.

You get up in the morning, do your nails and hair (well, at least you dry shampoo it), choose a fab outfit consisting of black straight torusers, black cashmere sweater, brogues and a silk leopard trench coat. You go out feeling like a million dollars... and you get to the show venue. Then in your mind it's all "Jesus Christ! Why did I dress like this? I look like a loser! Leopard print went out of fashion last season! I look way too put together, not nonchalant enough. These black trousers make me look like a sausage. If I looked as skinny as that model over there I could pull them off, but of course I had to eat all that cake last night. Also my hair is getting all frizzed. How can this even happen when I haven't washed it with water and soap in a week? For crying out loud, I just realized I'm standing next to Caroline Issa dressed in Ala├»a, she makes me look even worse! I'm so ugly I don't deserve to be here. In fact I don't deserve to live." Yes, that feeling is awful, especially considering you have to endure it every day for 5 weeks. But believe me, EVERYONE feels exactly the same. Maybe not Caroline Issa, but I'm pretty sure 90 % of the people at the shows do. Insecurity is only human nature. 

8. Never mind the bollocks... I mean never mind the streetstyle photographers.

I could do a whole blog post about streetstyle photographers. It would probably be titled "Why streetstyle photographers are dumber than a bag of hammers". Seriously. 95% of all streetstyle photographers - bar Bill Cunningham, Scott Schuman and a couple more - will take your picture only because the streetstyle photographer next to them is taking your picture. So if you enter a show and not one photographer snaps you, that's that. If, on the contrary, one of them shows interest, you will soon be feeing like Lady Di being papped from all angles. Some of the things streetstyle photographers look for in a person are, in no particular order: expensive outfits (who cares if they're borrowed?), ridiculous looks (a dress made of teddy bears? Snap away! Sandals in winter? Fabulous!) and it girls and boys (Alexa Chung dressed in tracksuits? Yes please!). I won't even go into the number of buffoons desperately posing for them. Do not try to be snapped by them and don't feel bad if they sneer at you (they actually do that sometimes). No one in the industry cares about them anymore anyway.

9. Save a little time to do some "real work" every day.

Because there's nothing worse than getting back to Paris after three hectic weeks in a state of exhaustion only to find that you still have to answer 578 e-mails and that a pile of articles needs to be written in the next 48 hours. Use the nights in which you don't go out to work a just a little bit and catch up on your sleep. It's really worth it. After all fashion week is about work.

10. Don't take it all too seriously. After all, it's only fashion!

Yes, we are taking part in a multi-billion industry here, but we're not saving lives, fixing the ozone layer or sending rockets to Mars. Try to keep some perspective. The world does not end because you missed a show, and no one deserves to be beheaded if a heel broke just before the model went out on the catwalk. As much as we like to think "everyone wants to be us", they don't. We're not the centre of the Universe. So lighten up, sweetie.

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