Posted by Fashion Junior at Large
A week has passed since London Fashion Week drew to a close, and I'm still dreaming about the things I saw (literally - visual feast doesn't even cover it). There was so much happening at ‘gloss level’ it’s easy to forget the weeks of preparation that go on behind the scenes, and the many tiers of people involved. This season I was privy to that other world…
Sara Blonstein is an events guru who has been masterminding the production side of fashions shows – most notably Fashion East - for years. Beneath the feet of the air kissing masses, in the vaults of Somerset House, her team are grafting away on the less glamorous side of LFW. And for one day only I was allowed a glimpse behind the curtain, to see just what it is they do to make sure journalists like me enjoy the show.
Back in the late 80s Sara was an east-end party girl, scoping out derelict spaces and priming them as venues for her glam club nights. ‘That’s basically what I’m still doing now’, she told me ‘You should have seen the Somerset House Vaults when we found them’.
Down in the underbelly of the BFC’s current home is a drippy passage which snakes its way from one side of the building to the other. In the original deeds it is referred to as ‘The Dead House’ – a legacy still observable, as headstones flank the walls. Drips fall sporadically from the ceiling, and patches of rust stain the white stone walls - yet somehow Lulu Kennedy had enough vision to look past all that and select them as the atmospheric venue for her Fashion East shows. And it works. ‘Last season Posh came, and she sat just there’ Sara chuckles, pointing to a length of hessian obscuring a dark hole full of rubble and wiring.
There’s not much space in the vaults, certainly not enough for inflated egos. Everyone gets treated the same, and they all get a front row seat.
Sara’s team are down in the vaults early setting up all the technical apparatus for the Topman sponsored MAN show. Predictably there are hiccups along the way. The retro LED scroller which will display each designer’s name is malfunctioning, and during one run-through a male model wearing leather pants and towering wedges by Jaiden rVa James wobbles and trips at my feet (tee-hee). The models booked for shows in the BFC tent are running late, which is putting Sara’s show behind, and everyone is swooping around with walkie-talkies and a sense of urgency. I hang back and cross my fingers that it all goes off without a hitch.
The model who fell. At least he has a gimp mask to hide behind. Hmmmm.
A couple of hours later, one show down (without a blip) and one more to go, Sara is handling VIP guests. James Small is showing his debut collection and there is a considerable amount of celebrity interest (which may or may not have something to do with the fact that he’s Fran Cutler’s boyfriend). Kate Moss and Lily Allen enter through the back and wait whilst the other guests are seated.
The paparazzi go into frenzy mode when Ms Moss strolls in, and there’s an awkward moment when Fran shouts at the photographer perched behind me - accusing him of being more interested in taking pictures of Kate than of the collection (she’s right of course).
Kate next to (babydaddy) Jefferson Hack
My day with Sara and the rest of Blonstein & Associates was a real eye opener. After seeing what goes into the aspects of backstage management, lighting and sound (Sara is very particular about volume, preferring a level akin to that of a Dalston rave) I have a new found appreciation for the fashion show. It's almost like a piece of theatre.
This season the team successfully produced Fashion East, MAN, James Small, Holly Fulton, the digital presentation schedule, the LFW exhibition, menswear installations, Elliott J Frieze, and the Newgen exhibition. Phew! I can’t wait to see what they do in September.
Pics: catwalking.com / Chis Moore, ELLE.co.uk