Thursday, 26 September 2013

What London Fashion Week is REALLY Like | My LFW Experience

Not Dressed As Lamb - What LFW is really like
London Fashion Week... I have to admit: I am not a high-fashion, couture or fashion week expert. I do not follow the new collections avidly or watch the live streams. I'm afraid I tend to skip the endless posts about NYFW, PFW or LFW on the blogs that I follow. I personally find them repetitive, image-heavy and nowhere near as interesting as my favourite blogger’s Outfit of the Day posts. So for me to be writing about London Fashion Week and the Simone Rocha show that I attended is out of my comfort zone and a tad (dare I say it)... hypocritical.

“To be writing about
London Fashion Week is
out of my comfort zone”

I never claim to be a “fashion” blogger - if given the choice I say I’m a personal style blogger. But no self-respecting style blogger can be given two free tickets to a show at LFW and not write about it; as a newly-announced freelance writer I have to be able to write about anything. If I can’t write about fashion (of all things) then my new full time career is pretty much scuppered.

London Fashion Week SS14

To explain: I was there as a guest of Mercedes-Benz South West after winning tickets in a competition on their blog, so huge thanks to them for their generosity as they also paid my travel expenses. Although a 6:50am train isn't ideal (bleary eyed, much?), it did get me there in plenty of time. I was lucky enough to receive two free passes to the designer showrooms (where clothes, jewellery and accessories designers show off their wares) as well.

So what can I tell you about my time at LFW? I thought I'd give you 10 facts that you may not have heard if, like me up until last week, you've never been to a fashion week before:

1. The most important thing to know in advance is that Somerset House is all cobblestones. Heels and cobblestones do not mix, for obvious reasons.

2. You have to get used to cameras being thrust in your face at every turn - sometimes they ask to take your picture, sometimes they don't.

“You have to get used to
cameras being thrust in your
face at every turn”

3. Whenever you see a small commotion and loads of photographers gathering in one place, you know a celebrity is making an appearance.

4. There are more crazy shoes in one place than you can shake a stick at.

5. The only way to wear a coat is draped over your shoulders. You never actually put your arms in the sleeves.

6. It's almost impossible to get any decent photos of the models on the catwalk unless you're in the front row so you give up, knowing they'll be on the internet within hours.

7. The show seems to last about 5-10 minutes and is over in a flash, whereas you sit waiting for it to begin for about half an hour after the official start time.

8. I don't know why but I expected more clothes on the catwalk. At least three times as many.

9. Not a single burger van in sight. No idea why.

Not a single burger van
in sight. No idea why.

10. Once you've seen a show there isn't a lot to do except hang around waiting for someone to ask to take your photo, if that's your kind of thing. Or go off to get a burger.

The Simone Rocha show

As I honestly did not know what to expect, I went with an open mind. The theatricality of fashion shows have always appealed to me (or rather, theatrical fashion shows), so I was hoping for something that would make me a little wide-eyed, as opposed to sending me to sleep. And as it happened, this collection had a perfect blend of edge and grace that was enough to keep my attention, and subtle theatricality was present in the clothes themselves rather than the show.

Simone Rocha SS14

The collection was mostly black and white with a few injections of moss green and blush pink which, for a fan of bold colour, strangely appealed to me. There were ruffled dresses with tiered, puffy skirts, boxy trouser suits and cocoon shaped silhouettes with pearl trimming everywhere - giving the black pieces more than a hint of modern day Chanel. The pearls were even present on knee high stockings and worn with chunky flats, they gave the feeling of girlishness without a sickly sugar coating.

Hardest to describe were the fabrics: looking like something out of a 22nd Century movie, there were highly textured floral plastics, reflective brocade, wet-look material and tulle edged in frills. Most were unidentifiable and non-traditional but nonetheless beautifully eye-catching.

Fabrics were unidentifiable
and non-traditional but
nonetheless eye-catching”

I was totally surprised by the fact that (most of) the models were wearing flats. For some reason I thought models are always put into teetering skyscraper heels to challenge them: “Walk up and down in a straight line, you say? No, we’re going to make it much more difficult than that: Wear these 10” stiletto-heeled platforms. You’ll probably break your ankles on the way down the catwalk and end up flashing your undies, but this is fashion, sweetie”.

Simone Rocha SS14

The most wearable thing about the collection? The knee-length hemlines. As someone who rarely likes anything baring my less-than-perfect knees, I found the absence of micro minis a breath of fresh air. A demure hemline makes quirky features like the little exposed pockets-that-were-really-holes more intriguing than peculiar and the daring full sheer panels more alluring than trashy. I found some of the shapes a little too matronly, but in contrast, others beautifully puffy-skirted and wonderfully feminine.

“A demure hemline makes
quirky features more
intriguing than peculiar”

So what did I love about the collection? Rather a lot, it seems:

  • The combination of white flower trimming, ruffles and tulle.
  • The contrast of ladylike, flattering dress silhouettes in sporty scuba material.
  • The exuberant sprinkling of pearls on every neckline, hemline and knee-high sockline.

Impractical, inexplicable and
unquestionably elegant
  • The soft, subtle whites and nudes.
  • The white embroidered fabric and the white wet-look dresses trimmed in excessive pearl and flower detailing.
  • The final dresses with veils covering the models’ whole head and torso and knotted at the waist - impractical, inexplicable and unquestionably elegant.

Simone Rocha SS14
I guess it’s rare with a lot of shows to like everything, but I wasn't so keen on the combination of Puritan-like dress shapes in black - another shape in black or that dress shape in white would have been fine, but together they just weren't very inspiring. Plus I don't find cocoon-shaped coats flattering on anyone, and if they don't look good on models... I rest my case.

Overall, I fell in love with the fitted bodice dresses which were wonderfully flattering to the female form, and I’m still thinking about all that gorgeous flower and pearl edging even now.

Simone Rocha SS14

I have taken to researching where to buy pearl trimming and a glue gun, and I’ve started my fantasy Christmas list especially for yards and yards of tulle, knee high socks and scuba suits. However the question remains: did I enjoy it? The answer is, of course, yes - absolutely, even in the rain. It was all the better for going with a LFW-savvy blogger friend - it meant I could relax a little about where to go and what to do (I can recommend getting yourself an experienced companion).

I thought it would be just this once that I'd go - a tick on the bucket list. But I've surprised myself in thinking that I may want to go next year. I'm already wondering what I can wear in February with flats...!

Catherine x
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All catwalk images:


  1. I LOVE this post, Catherine! I find it so refreshing to read an honest account of the FW instead of the usual "I love it" "it was wonderful" "so glamorous" and all that jazz. I did this last year and I truly appreciated the privilege of attending a show and parties etc. I adore hanging out with fellow bloggers more so. Did you get a chance to visit the Apartment? I didn't because by the time I got to see Daniella, we were both running out of time.

  2. Hi there! Really enjoyed reading this as my sentiments about LFW are pretty much the same and I don't in general 'do' live streaming or watching of other fashion weeks abroad. I was into this one more as my son was photographing for Hunger magazine and it was lovely to see the collections through his lens! The Simone Rocha collection looks lovely here and it sounded like you had a great time too!

  3. Super cool post... I never go to Fashion Week (just read from other blog),, and almost of their report is about photos and photos.. but how you tell your experience about attending fashion weeks is a great thing (yess, I enjoyed read your post). Hope someday I have a chace to go to FW.

  4. What a well written post. I'm glad that you wrote from a different prospective rather than the typical LFW coverage that most bloggers go for. Yes I agree the LFW posts are repetitive. Bloggers just turn up and take a picture of their outfit and don't really say what they loved or hated about the shows they've been to. Thanks for a refreshing post!


  5. Catherine, I love this post! I'm with you - I get kind of bored with all of the coverage of fashion week, since most of it is unattainable for us here in the Midwestern USA anyway. I get the glamour quotient and all, and the artistry of it, though. I like your humorous and realistic take on LFW - great post!

  6. Oh Catherine! How exciting!! I would LOVE to go to a fashion week. But, I simply just want to gawk at all the fashionable people walking about. I don't even think I need to go in to a show: just let me be a fly on a wall and people watch. I'm glad you had such a great experience (and I love your first pic--that's pretty cute;). Love, Ann of Kremb de la Kremb

  7. That's how a post about FW should be written, Catherine! I always skip the usual Fashion Week posts as I can get the same info with better photos straight from the designers' websites or livestreams... Yours is different and I loved reading your thoughts about it.
    I hope to be there for the next LFW and surely my daughter will be my experienced companion as she already attended this time.

    Annette | Lady of Style

  8. Love your review of Simone Rocha Catherine! And your ten things to know are so true! Really glad you enjoyed your LFW experience :)

    Anna Lou X

  9. I very much liked your comment on the fashion week. Had to laugh. I have been to the Amsterdam Fashion Week a couple of times and recognise everything you say and agree with it. Totally.

  10. Thank you for the heads-up on Fashion Week and I think most of them goes through the same 10 points which you just shared. For someone like me who hasn't gone to any of them, I guess I still sit and wonder how's it like to experience it. Looking at the famous bloggers who made fashion weeks so fun, it makes me feel that it is probably worth a try. Fancy and all. I guess to everything, there's pros and cons.
    Hey, if I'm going to LFW next year, I'll drop you an email =D


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