The drive from Heathrow was something I’ll never forget. The intense nail biting, thick tension in the air as I sat in the back of the quintessentially British black cab watching the meter rise and rise with every creep forward in peak traffic. With 95 British pounds later and a huge dent in my schedule, I headed for the Fendi store to pick up couture for my client Sabrina Elba. Bond Street was filled with tourists, locals and everyone in between strolling the streets of London looking for something to do. After meeting the statuesque Sabrina for the first time and fulfilling my duties as a stylist in person, I got ready for my first night in London and what an epic night it was. I met Michele Lamy and she was gracious enough to take the HARDEST selfie with me ever, honestly it was the opposite of a PR crisis. Congratuslaytions to me!
DAY 1: September 15, 2023
My first day of shows began with one of my favourite brands that empowers and uplifts the beauty behind being a woman: Di Petsa. Everything about the show was so sensual, warm and inviting like the first cocktail on a holiday it sent shivers down my spine. The show was performance art with a heavy focus on design and keeping in line with what Dimitria is fantastic at which is celebrating and designing for the female form. Each model came down the runway sauntering with their sun kissed skin and wet look hairstyles, the runway spotlight highlighting the ridges and soft curves of all the looks. I met one of my super talented collaborators Dunsin Wright at this show and was able to convey my gratitude for hiring me to help with Tems’ MET Gala 2023 look. We went backstage for a peek at the beautiful madness with PR icon Ethan King and I felt right at home, the buzz of a successful show behind the curtain is tangible and I feel honoured to experience it.
I will admit after the show I went to the rooftop of my hotel and ordered an interesting drink that came in a parrot shaped cocktail glass that happened to attract bees (not ideal). There might have also been a fried intermission I like to call a siesta. Having been extremely jet lagged I gave myself some grace and booked a dinner at a Jamaican restaurant with my sister. I feel with these really overwhelming, all consuming and over stimulating events that I keep experiencing that I do need time to debrief as it still feels very unreal for me and I knew there were a big few days coming up. The boozy rum cocktails started flowing and the jerk wings transported me to a sandy beach far from Shoreditch and it was exactly everything I needed that night. The restaurant manager took offence to my bogan pronunciation of plantain and that’s when I knew it was time to call it a night, but first I headed for an off licence, it only seemed right. One vape later I was in my car headed back to the hotel, the cold air stinging my face and Drake filling the BMW.
DAY 2: September 16, 2023
It was a special day. If you know me then you are aware of the place Jonathan Anderson holds in my heart. It was an early show (for me) at 11am in a huge setting with everyone receiving a front row seat. Between the clothes made of clay and the use of feathers I’m not sure which one I enjoyed more? More controversial than the boundary pushing designs was the horde of fashion people exiting their seats to socialise before the models had even finished the runway (yikes or justified?)
My beautiful friend Robin Douglas of the Swedish Fashion Council invited me to the Feben show and it was so exciting to experience new and fresh designers creating their identity in real time. The bright but earthy palette was so welcoming for spring/summer and it made me excited to see what they have next!
That night I had a beautiful dinner with beautiful models: Diana Veras, Rebecca Louisy and Enga Domingue. The pasta was stunning and savoury, the Bellini’s were sweet and moreish and the company was even better. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of women to have a nuanced conversation and Kiki about the fashion industry with. From the restaurant we sauntered into a nearby pub! It was all very British of us however the cosmos we ordered were a New York crossover. These are nights I’ll never forget where a group of powerful women just embraced me, manifested for me and pushed all their positive intentions out into the world. I am so lucky to have met them.
DAY 3: September 17, 2023
Today was KNWLS day. I was really excited for this runway and for good reason! They have such a strong identity and some really cool clothes. What I have to say is not a reflection on only KNWLS but after two weeks of looking at runways I just started to feel tired with the same lazy, boring and exclusive body type on these runways. Extremely thin and nothing less than that was seen this season and it’s dejecting knowing I could never buy some of these looks for myself because the brand doesn’t care to stock it. I find myself wondering why I even bother with fashion anymore but there’s a bigger picture I want to contribute to shaping and exploring. I pulled myself out of the inward spiral I was having as I saw my beautiful friend Mia Khalifa close the show for KNWLS, knowing how special this was for her just put a lot into perspective for me. We are all fighting toward something.
I retired to my room with the events of the last 11 days slowly catching up to me like a slow fog. Room service and Mikes Mic was all I had on my agenda.
DAY 4: September 18, 2023
IT’S BURBERRY DAY! A day I’ve been waiting for since I found out I was going on this fabulous trip with META and one I certainly won’t forget. The weather started out fairly clear and nothing could shake my excitement… till the cloudy British sky began to turn darker. That’s the unpredictability when it comes to British weather and it’s at times like this I loathe living out of a suitcase because there’s only so many options and combinations you can exhaust that are appropriate for the occasion.
The weather could do what it pleased but it didn’t shake my enthusiasm for what was to come in the Highbury Fields park. I left my hotel an hour early in anticipation for the ever horrific traffic situation in London and managed to jump out of the car at 3:45 and speed walk the rest of the way due to backed up traffic caused by the show. As I sped past residential streets I was met with a screaming and panicked father, face beet read screaming down at the stream of black Mercedes “WHAT THE F*CK IS GOING ON? I HAVE TO GET MY KIDS FROM SCHOOL”. Honestly I felt quite bad in that moment and it snapped me back to the real world because as much as we are entitled to do our jobs as people in fashion I’ve also witnessed how intrusive some of these extravagant shows can be on normal civilians. However, my reason for being there that day wasn’t to turn my nose up at the industry but rather bask in it and that I did! The Norman’s pop up was utterly tempting but with a belly full of butterflies I thought best not to add coffee breath to the list of things I’ll become neurotic about. So, I skipped into the huge checkered printed tent to find my seat and found Henrietta Gallina — a blueprint for myself and the EIC of Citizen Magazine.
It was such a beautiful interaction to have with someone I’ve spoken with candidly over Zoom almost a year ago to now seeing each other at a Burberry show. We shared some moments and I was back to scouring the large tent for my seat and when I eventually followed the snake-like procession of park benches and flasks I found my seat crowded with photographers trying to snap someone famous. My bad eye sight didn’t stop me from spotting many iconic editors, celebrities, models and influencers but my social inefficiencies stopped me from making any introductions to many that I am friendly with. The thought of imposing on someone really important makes my skin crawl and it’s very irrational because they’re all extremely lovely.
The clothes were beautiful and a step up from Daniel Lee’s previous collection with more thought and structure in the finished product. From the casting to the creative teams who help make the looks come to life (hair/makeup) it was truly two words: young and British. There wasn’t a face there not impacting fashion in London in positive and thoughtful ways, people who have worked their way up brick by brick and deserve to be in such a cool position. For some final thoughts I’d like to request Alva’s look for myself, not a client.