How to best reflect upon this year’s experience at London Fashion Week? The clothes, the flawless faces with their poses stuck hard on the runway and the equally practiced faces in the sidelines, focused intently on the next season’s key features.
Then I really thought about the clothes, the models and more so about the utter chaos conducted in harmony behind the catwalk screen and concealed from the public eye. Characters that exposed themselves only to blanket their expressions on departing to the other side.
My reflection on London Fashion Week is not so much on the cuts, trends or colours, but who’s behind the people, the emotions and the collective processes that go into the three minute catwalk. This may, for some, be less interesting than LFW street style and the SS16 trends to come. But for them there are hundreds, dare I say thousands of other sources to find their requirements.
Fashion industry chaos quite unlike anything and it’s relentless – it’s hot, sweaty and bright. Where, “oh sorry” translates to, “get out of my way that’s my shot, she’s posing for me”, followed by a sharp elbow and a nudge, by which point the model’s moved and you’ve both lost the shot. No, there’s no time for sorry – just elbows and balls.
It’s a beehive, where roles are assigned en masse and doing three things at once is a minimum requirement. Models walk around nonchalantly whilst the swarms of team members, hair dressers, make-up artists, stylists and everyone in between from corporate photographers, PAs, runners and too many assistants to count, buzz about them in a mad blur of apparently organised activity.
Hair, nails and make-up happen simultaneously and transition flawlessly as the models then make a miraculous change from their effortlessly chic day looks, this ofcourse means they’re assisted by several people into their outfit for the final run. Accessories on, final retouches to the hair seconds before exit, game face on and strut.
It’s a small wall that divides the antithesis of atmosphere, of character, of passion and effort between backstage and catwalk. So, unlike the effortless shots I’ve previously posted from London Fashion Week – the cool faces, smooth struts and bright clean catwalks – this time I captured a few moments of the stillness in the chaos, character in the pose and the effort made to create the effortless.
The dressing lights around the mirrors mostly removed to reduce the heat in the room as sweaty brows and humid hair provided just one more challenge.
Glittered lids and glorified nails in a glamourless process
A production line of high-end, fast-paced styling
Photographers creeping around every angle, in every space (yes, that includes me)
Whilst models are happy for a snap, game faces ready at the appropriate moments whilst the buzz continues around them
Looking at her you wouldn’t guess she was hitting the catwalk for the first time, confident and bold against the blur of the process. But on first talking to Kenna she was giggling nervously. Kenna, both a good friend, owner of Kennaland and the head hair stylist for EVO on the Fyodor Golan SS16 LFW show. (Amongst other things, one very busy man.)
Before this I knew his job is to make hair look great. Everyday he devises the logic of a designers collection, rationalises the style, considers the texture, cut, colour and design to reflect it. It’s clear before this moment I underestimated his role, in fact, he’s intrinsic in boosting confidence, to making the model fit the hairstyle, to making them own it. That’s actually why she looks so confident in that photo. Looking at her below, hands up awkwardly and smiling, she’s only just easing into her role as catwalk model, she had earlier asked another model how she should walk. A reminder that there’s a lot hidden behind their stern, posed faces, perfect make-up and postured struts.
The final spray, Kenna stands at the end to give one last touch to the hair before they hit the catwalk. A phone shot in front of me just as I clicked my camera, much like most of these images I captured the relentless movement of the backstage (even if it was unintentional at times).
At this point the models, lined and ready to go, give the photographers the final shots of their outfits. These moments offer up the stark contrast of character from the models between the flashes…
The buzz of the hive becomes physical at this point with the movement of the photographers bustling for the shot, the flashes of the camera, the calls for a stare down the lens – the money shot.
They graciously give attention to even those hidden behind the front line of the flashes, staring through the buzz to capture the eye of a camera.
When the waiting game’s over and they completely their walk through the relief is contagious and the crowd disperses as quickly as it had appeared, ready for the next hive to move in.
These models are gorgeous, colourful and characterful women, the outfits are wonderful expressions of our culture and the processes are completed by a community of passionate individuals working in an environment many of us would struggle to conceive nevermind master.
Fyodor Golan SS16 show.
With thanks to the Kennaland & EVO hair teams.
Previous London Fashion Week Posts
David Koma: Front Row Lessons
London College of Fashion
Fyodor Golan: Giants, Magic and Dragons
PPQ: Pour moi, et tu?
Bora Aksu: Trippin’ On Shrooms
Carlotta Actis Barone: Cleavage and Crazy Cuts