My Experience at a London Fashion Week Public Facing SHow - Is it Worth it?
Updated: Mar 6
Last year, the British Fashion Council established their first public facing fashion shows. But are they really worth the cost? Read about my LFW experience and decide for yourself whether they're worth buying or not.
Fashion always finds a way. There are no winds strong enough - even when blown from the mouth of Storm Dennis - and there is no global superbug scary enough to stop stylish crowds from attending London Fashion Week. If you, like me, have stood outside 180 The Strand for the biannual event before, I’m sure you saw an interesting array of people.
When I visited 3 days ago, everyone you’d expect to see was there. And this was in spite of the rough weather and Coronavirus fears. That good old British resilience. Environmental protesters still waved their smoke bombs into the air; the pastel-pink hues emanating out into the ether, fashion editors still hobbled about in calf-length boots; their faces already overworked, whilst passionate photographers still lingered on the pavements and, protected by their waterproof jackets, were eager to capture London’s finest fashionistas.
Meanwhile, the everyday city folk sigh. “Look, they’re all out in their faux fur jackets and uncomfortable heels and getting photographed in the very spot I need to pass through to get to work. It must be fashion week again.”
Taken from my Instagram story, hence the portrait filming style.
However, there also exists a faction of fashionistas who are unable to get stuck into LFW. They’re most likely at home, refreshing the online pages of Vogue for the latest runway updates. Social media is a go-to as well. They’re probably flicking through Instagram to find the best highlights from the busy period.
These people are not B or A-list celebrities representing a brand, nor are they PR professionals or luxury fashion buyers. This is your everyday appreciator of fashion. The normal, working wage crowd needs their fashion fix too. It’s more than just buying something, but actually seeing the beauty and craftsmanship of high-end fashion up close and personal, even if your wallet could never stretch far enough to buy the items in mind.
I for one am a broke graduate. At the moment I'm doing an unpaid fashion internship and the occasional modelling job - the latter activity being the sort of thing you get paid for months later after the gig. Yes, I know that money doesn't buy style, but there is something intimidating about visiting fashion week in the odd high street piece from 16 micro seasons ago, a bunch of secondhand finds, and the occasional hand-me-down (which is likely something I stole from my mum’s wardrobe because she doesn’t wear it anymore). So, how does the everyday person get involved with fashion week without feeling judged or left out?
Luckily for us, the British Fashion Council started running public facing shows last year. House of Holland and Self Portrait were the first brands to host these public runways in February 2020. For many, this addition to LFW was a step in the right direction, being another way of making fashion more accessible for the masses. But, when you look at the prices for tickets, there is quite a hefty fee to pay to get in. A slight obstacle in the way of making these events completely available to everyone - regardless of their income bracket.
A standard ticket is £135, whilst a V.I.P ticket is £245. If you’re still interested, it’s a matter of weighing up whether it’s really worth paying for. For the 2020 public facing shows, I was lucky enough to be gifted one standard ticket at Christmas time. So, if you’re still debating if you’d want to buy one or not, hearing about my own experiences at this year’s LFW might help!
For February 2020, the two brands announced for the public facing shows were Temperley London; the British luxury brand known for their timeless evening pieces, and De La Vali; an Ibiza-inspired boutique with a bohemian vibe. I must say, I was given the tickets before I knew what two brands were going to be involved. A bit of a gamble if you ask me. I’d recommend waiting for the brand announcements before you make a purchase. You wouldn’t want to see a brand you have no interest in! By a stroke of luck, I got to attend the Temperley London show. It’s a brand I’ve adored for three years running due to their feminine frocks and embroidered gowns. Don’t get me started on their iridescent pieces...
On the day of the event, Storm Dennis was a threatening presence. My show was scheduled for one o’clock. It could rain at any time. In a leap of faith, I hopped onto my morning train and prayed that I would make it to the Strand just before the first droplets started to spill. Now, I’m pretty sure the weather gods were on my side that morning. Apart from dodging a few camera flashes - to avoid being an unwelcome photobomber at the back of a stranger’s photo - and having to squeeze past the chains placed by a few Extinction Rebellion members, I made it to the queue in one piece.
Upon entering the main doors we received a free drink, a special issue of the Evening Standard fashion mag, an ethically made tote bag, and one sturdy reusable water bottle in a bright orange colour. My easily-pleased self was already impressed. Then, we were led into a long, purple-hued room. The catwalk of course! <3 Seating-wise there were two rows against both walls and everyone who paid for a ticket got a seat. This was not a case of being made to stand at the back and having to stand on tippy-toes just to see the models. If I had one jab to make, the seats could have been a little bit more comfy. They went into major butt cramp territory. Can’t have everything you want in life, I guess.
The Temperley London runway did not disappoint. For the Spring 2020 ready-to-wear collection, I was surprised to see the brand venture into day-wear too. Fresh-faced models looked pretty in pastels. They sported springtime ensembles that just scream romantic picnics and afternoon pedal-boat rides at your local park. This time, wide brim boater hats and strappy gladiator sandals were a recurring theme. One model appeared in a white linen midi dress whilst others walked out in colourful printed maxis.
To be honest, I was more excited to see the evening looks. Afterall, it’s what Temperley London is known for. I was not prepared. It was overwhelming to see the range of dazzling evening gowns on display, contributing towards a celebration of texture and colour. A mixture of sequined, iridescent frocks with deep v-necks, mesh maxi gowns with intricate embroidery, and black, head-to-toe embellishment dresses were just too much to take. Did I feel emotional? Yes. Cannot lie there. For the price of the ticket, I’d say that the 15 to 20 minute show was worth it.
Also with the ticket, not only do you get to see the fashion show, but you also get to watch a complementary talk with a special guest - on my day the guest was Temperley London’s founder, Alice Temperley - and have access to the various fashion stalls and exhibits on display. Be it fashion graduates showcasing their work or fashion meets performance art pieces in the discovery lab room, there was something curious around every corner...
A short clip of a fashion meet art piece in the Discovery Lab room. The models are wearing LUEDER.
A few pieces showcased in a small exhibit represented by NEWGEN, a project that "offers designers financial support to futureproof their businesses." Left to right: Halpern, Richard Quinn, and Roker.