As London Fashion Week comes to an end we consider the makeup of fashion shows and how the army of volunteers and models work together to create the catwalks of this fast-paced and ever-changing industry.
What people think of when they hear London Fashion Week: Glamourous runways, dazzling and sometimes outrageous clothes and herd of celebrities.
But what about those behind the scenes? The hundreds of volunteers, companies and models involved in the strenuous business of putting on a show?
Caught up in the excitement of fashion week I volunteered for two days at Fashions Finest off-schedule LFW event [off schedule meaning the event wasn’t organised by the British Foundation Council].
Fashions Finest happily caters to designers and brands looking to break into the fashion industry by throwing events which expands the designer’s social media platform and press exposure.
Since its considerably small beginnings in 2010, where the company hosted shows in small bars, Fashions Finest has ‘grown organically’ says director Deborah St. Louis.
With a staunch belief in ’small steps’ Deborah took Fashions Finest from a company absent of stage lights and sponsors, to the award-winning event management company it is today.
Fashions Finest is an affordable alternative to LFW and their professional and attentive approach when engaging with designers stimulates a fun and diverse show.
In terms of designer wannabes, Deborah’s ultimate advice is resoundingly clear – every designer needs a business mind.
She believes the runway should not be the height of a designer’s ambitions and they must understand how to turn their creations into a business, before attempting to enter the ‘snobbish industry’.
My time spent at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, off Great Queen Street, as a volunteer helping both back of stage and at the front of house was amazingly hectic.
The first day was the most pleasant of the two as my front of house duties meant I was meeting and greeting, registering people and serving drinks to a crowd of euphoric fashion enthusiasts.
Among the throngs of volunteers who ran to set up chairs and direct people to their seats, I observed the expensively and, on occasion, strangely-clothed guests – think Balenciaga chic vs a fluorescent pink gown weighed down by a family of Barbies.
From endless fittings to placing garments on railings in specific orders, activity backstage was slow and punctuated by moments of chaos as soon as the shows began.
Stationed in the corridors, the volunteers were armed with an assortment of clothes, ready for when the models returned from their 20 seconds on the catwalk.
We then prodded and pulled off their costumes before shoving more material over their carefully crafted hair.
Magda Swider (a polish model with 46.1K Instagram followers and counting) is in her fifth season with Fashions Finest – who she now considers to be her family.
With each garment Magda transitions into different versions of herself and enjoys her moment on the stage ‘when everyone is looking at [her]’.
“Those aspiring for a career in modelling should be natural,” says Magda, who warns against fake eyebrows and tattoos.
Fashion is three trillion dollar industry which envelopes our societal ecosystem and gives us the freedom to express who we are and the person we aspire to be.
Fashions Finest champions these values as it’s events and the shows which cast LFW as the highlight of the year, ensure that new colours and prints hit our shelves on the high street.
Photography by Mikey San | IG @whoismikey
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