So way out, no way in: Tamsin Blanchard joins the terminally trendy in the queue for the cutting edge

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The Independent Culture
THEY PASS EACH OTHER on the catwalk that is Soho's Old Compton Street, or meet in noisy coffee bars around Portobello Road.

'Hi, how are you?'

'Fine. You?'

'Yeah, great. Well, bye. See you around.'

Nothing to say, but in a few short moments they have clocked each other from head to foot: hair colour, wraparound plastic cycling sunglasses, tiniest rucksack ever. And they will see each other 'around' - for fashion victims congregate in the same few shops, bars and clubs.

Soho is important: FVs like to hang out there because it is near Saint Martin's School of Art on Charing Cross Road, and they either go there, went there, or would like to go there. So the weekend starts there: Friday afternoon, the Living Room coffee bar, Bateman Street. The comfy old sofas are ideal for talking about your clothes, bitching about other people's clothes, making plans for the night ahead and drinking caffe latte - never just coffee.

The milk in the coffee is important because it is one of the FV's only sources of protein. Food comes way down the list of staples, after clothes, clubs and caffeine, cigarettes and chewing gum.

Friday night gets going after ten, in the queue outside Riki Tik Bar-Cafe.

(FVs spend a lot of time in queues, waiting to get into places that are even more fashionable than them.) 'Can I come in? I'm looking for my friend,' yells someone to the doorman.

'He's wearing PVC.' The doorman is not impressed: 'They're all wearing PVC'.

Riki Tik's walls are painted with futuristic graphics in blue and orange.

The bar was designed by the person who did Bjork's record covers. And the frozen shots of vodka are flavoured with Rolo, or Fox's Glacier Mint. The toilets, although tiny, are a favourite hangout, and essential for checking lipstick (red and ultra glossy, or pink and frosted) and hair (bleached white or leopard print).

This week, Studio 94 is the place to be on Friday nights. The club's flyer (left at all the FV's favourite shops) shows a pneumatic disco babe wearing a sequinned boob tube, spray-on shiny stretch-satin jeans and strappy, high-heeled sandals, and makes this promise: 'We aim to supply you with decadent levels of glitz and glamour on two floors of the purist (sic) chic.'

There are models and 'faces' galore. For an FV, dancing next to model-of-the-minute Keith Martin (wearing a wig and an acrylic-knit jumper) is nirvana - like stepping straight into a fashion spread in the Face.

How do you cap that? With another caffeine shot at Bar Italia or Comptons in Soho, and then home to W10.

Shopping is hell on Saturdays (even Portobello Market, second-hand clothes heaven at the Golborne Road end, is better on Friday mornings), but it's got to be done.

Vivienne Westwood's World's End shop, always a mecca for FVs, is pulling them in with the elevator platform shoes and black patent leather spike heels. (If money is tight, Faith, further up King's Road, is selling similar spikes for a quarter of the price - and they have been photographed in Vogue.) Then it's a 15-minute ride on the number 19 to Covent Garden, to Sign of the Times (turquoise satin trousers and a handful of club flyers), Muji (spaghetti strap vest), Red or Dead (just for a look) and Duffer of St George (tiny T-shirt).

November's magazines should be out by now, so the FV's next stop is the magazine shop on Old Compton Street, for Italian Vogue, Interview, Fad, Dazed & Confused, the Face, Vibe, Planet (because it is new), Raygun (because it is pretentious and unreadable), and any obscure foreign magazines.

Most of Saturday night is spent getting ready to stand in a queue, either outside 'Been There, Seen it Done it. .', the club night hosted by Dazed & Confused, or Heaven.

Sunday is just another shopping opportunity. After a late brunch at WKD Cafe in Camden Town (here, unusually, one eats), it's time for bargain hunting.

The FV does not look at the tie-dye and hippy rags but searches out anything that glitters, at Asi-La Punk or Funk, a tiny cubby-hole of a shop next to the Tube station. But the heart of FV Camden Market is away from the crowds of tourists, at the Chalk Farm end - where an old, battered British Airways flight bag costs pounds 16, there are Chinese padded jackets (the DIY version of Jean-Paul's look for this winter), and acid-yellow satin loons scream for attention. Which is precisely what the FV will do when wearing them next weekend.