Gemma tries it on: 'I have embraced the flurry of sample sales that happen at this time of year'


My work life has got a bit glamorous lately. Well, the last three days anyway. My week started by being whisked off to Milan to attend a party thrown by Dodo, the Italian jewellery company. I then flew straight to Edinburgh for Chanel's unbelievably lavish Métier d'Art show (I'm still not sure if that really happened? It was dream-like). Then finally it was back to London for two pressing Italian engagements: Christmas drinks hosted by Dolce & Gabbana, and later on that evening, a candlelit supper in Burlington Arcade with Salvatore Ferragamo.

The previous week was less glamorous, though. With building work underway at my house (currently no kitchen and sub-zero temperatures) and Christmas around the corner I did the opposite of what any sane, money-conscious person would do and went shopping. In my defence, I did try to do it in on a budget and embraced the flurry of sample sales that always happens at this time of year.

Have you ever been to a sample sale? They were once an industry-insider perk, held at the end of the season to get rid of old stock and to help fund the label's future productions. While they still serve the same purpose, many of them are now open to the public (who'd have thought?). If you get the chance, I say go! You never know what gems you may find. Just be prepared for queues and the possibility of it being crap.

Bigger brands such as Chanel and Prada are more elitist. If your name's not on the list, you're not coming in. The Chanel sales are infamous for the ferocious crowd – I've witnessed many an editor scrabbling and elbowing their way through rails to get their hands on the latest tweed. But then, who doesn't want a Chanel suit?

I, for one, embrace the sales with open arms rather than elbows. And after all, what the hell was I going to wear to all of these fashionable events? So when the Christopher Kane sample sale invite landed in my inbox, it was a done deal.

There I was a week later and even though I had the exclusive 'preview' of the sale, so did the other 100 people in the queue, all ready to descend upon the small warehouse filled with past season's stock. But, while the T-shirts were around £40, the lace dress I fell in love with was £850. Yes, you heard me right. Eight hundred and fifty English pounds. In Kane's defence, the item in question was utterly beautiful, but still, I was hoping for more of a bargain.

The next was an online sale…this time it was the Outnet who knocked another 50 per cent off the already discounted price-tags. Now that's a bargain. I managed to get a beautiful lace S/S Junya Watanabe dress which I had wanted for months. I love it. That's happy shopping.