I must have been nice (as opposed to naughty) last year, because at Christmas, Santa* excelled himself. Instead of ferreting about for my present in his bottomless sack of dull pashminas and bath salts, he bid in a Charity Auction on my behalf and won me something money can’t usually buy. And in so doing, he also donated a generous amount to three different worldwide charities, courtesy of The Independent Christmas Appeal.

Lot 24, dubbed “Absolutely Frankellous”, was a seat at a London Fashion Week show in the friendly company of Susannah Frankel, this paper’s fashion editor. I would witness a brave new collection while garnering fashion tips from an insider. Who knows, I might even get papped myself (I felt that a little intoxicating fantasy was appropriate in the circumstances). Sounded sublime.



As London Fashion Week wasn’t until February, that gave me seven heavenly weeks to decide what to wear. But would that be long enough? Six weeks and six days later, I had impetuously made my mind up on a “casually thrown together” mix of McQ and Gharani Strok and, impulsively laid out, two complete, impeccably mismatched choices of accessories. I knew any attempt to match boots to bag was likely to carbon-date me as a dinosaur at London Fashion Week.



Susannah had suggested we see the Marios Schwab show, in the Topshop-sponsored space at the University of Westminster buildings. While feigning familiarity with his name, I swiftly Googled him. This Greek/Austrian, London-based, designer makes dramatic, precisely fitted, feminine looks, although the word “young” is used on his website when defining the “Marios Schwab Woman”. Never mind. Fashion is about dreams, and whether young, or indeed, in my case, not, it was truly exciting to have the chance to see his cutting-edge work up close.



As the big day arrived, I realised that my grubby handbag was full of dog poo bags, puppy treats roaming around my black hole in search of a canine mouth, a dirty football sock belonging to my seven-year-old and crumbs from a thousand after-school snacks. Luckily, I had bought a new bag recently and sharply decanted the essentials into it.



Outside the venue, a throng of black-clad ravens and long-legged storks jostled in front of barred security gates. A few grim-faced bouncers stared back at them as if observing zoo animals. The show, of course, as I know, now I am an insider, was running late. All shows run late, apparently.



Finally, the gates opened. The Topshop-sponsored space is large, dark and dramatic. Once seated in the front row (in the front row!), Susannah and I were indeed papped, or at least, politely photographed, by a girl from Vogue. And on locating my glasses, I was able to examine everyone in the opposite front row: the famous, the infamous, the fashion forward and the fashion backward, all squished together on a just-too-small bench.



Finally the show started with a burst of music. Model after model sulked back and forth modelling Marios Schwab’s Autumn/Winter 2009 collection.



If these clothes were for autumn, it must have been for an autumn in a country which doesn’t have seasons. There were teensy sleeveless dresses, and then, even teensier ones to follow. But what exquisite styling and tailoring was on show: tight mini-dresses had flares over the hips to flatter and mimic the female frame. Structured shapes of material stood out on breasts and bottoms. Graphic patterns were followed by vivid reds and pinks. The work was that of a perfectionist, fitted exactly to shape – 20-year-old model-shape, that is.



Closing the show were two fabulous, frisson-inducing, feathery coats, one red, with long sleeves, and the other turquoise and sleeveless. Forget the ravens and the storks. These were strictly for would-be flamingoes.



It was thrilling – if over all too soon. Now, Santa, regarding next year’s present…..

* Thank you to Philip for playing Santa last year

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