Harriet Walker: 'Never look in the goody bag while you're still in the venue'

 

Share
Related Topics

Call me your correspondent from the front line, because I'm at "the shows" this month. No, not Starlight Express or Cats – fashion shows, Fashion Weeks in Different Cities. New York, London, Milan and Paris. The international collections, as some more grandiose types often call them. But most fashion people just call them "the shows" – presumably because if you don't know which ones they're referring to, you're not worth their time and it's a handy way of spotting you. Saying "the shows" is a bit like saying "Carnival" (strictly no pronoun!) for the one in Notting Hill, the logic here being that you're so blonde and west London-centric that you couldn't possibly be referring to the one in Rio, say, or even Cologne.

The whole rigmarole of protocol associated with "the shows" only begins with what you call them. There are many other in-the-know strictures to follow, too: don't look in the goody bag while you're still in the venue; and never wear the label at its own show (some people believe the opposite here but I'm of the opinion that it's like showing up to dinner in a T-shirt with your date's face on it – creepy).

Finally – and this a new one to me – always bring snacks for your team to eat in the car, be they oatcakes or chocolate bars – someone will become hysterical at some point and need to be talked down, either with rusk or caramel.

It's a strange thing, spending a month with the same people. I don't mean colleagues, although it's a unique bonding experience to eat breakfast and dinner with them every day for a month, or drool on their shoulders as you sleep on various planes. I rarely (never) get to spend this much time with my family and loved ones. It's odd, but you build a little family unit among yourselves – there's the business-like one who tells you when to go to bed because they care for you; another is the bearer of oatcakes and chocolate who makes sure you're getting your five a day (two a day in my case); and finally there's the one who has to be ushered away because they're having too much fun. You can guess which I might be.

Quite apart from the feeling that you're part of some weirdly exclusive travelling circus, a month spent with the same people you don't really know is simply fascinating. From the ones you can just about crank out a chat with, to the ones you can nod and say hi to, to the ones you can't take your eyes off and who will never even know you exist.

I speak, of course, of the startlingly beautiful people who seem to only fit in at "the shows". You'd never bump into them buying milk or a scratchcard. In New York, they have legs the width of arms; in Milan, they have eyes the size of espresso cups; and in Paris their haircuts are sharper than your wit. Where do these people disappear to when "the shows" are over? It's easier to believe they continue to exist in New York, Milan and Paris. But in London, where do these exotic creatures come from and live? Well, Dalston, naturally. The next development site up from Shoreditch (over) and just to the right of Islington (triple over). It's irrigated with estuary types every weekend.

But what's most interesting about "the shows" is that everyone becomes weirdly united – odd, given how rigidly hierarchical the seating plan is (further back than third row is death), and doubly odd, given that you'd assume most people are too busy looking over your shoulder and checking their reflection in your sunglasses to talk to you properly.

At the Prada show, I witnessed several editors of supposedly competing titles comparing notes on the canapés; at Dolce, you take your seat and immediately turn round to whoever's nearby to catch up on the gossip. Your currency is tiredness, your repartee is bad food. Your jokes are about clothes you used to wear and your sign-off is, of course, "Oh, well, what did you think?" I imagine it's how the great biologists, physicists and entrepreneurs of this world socialise, in rarefied circles and for a finite amount of intense face-time.

The surprise is that while the rest of the world, and particularly the city we're in, mock us for being pompous and self-obsessed, what we're actually interested in is who had the best burger last night. Fashion really isn't all it's cracked up to be. Try as you might to distinguish yourself from us, we're as familiar and as cosy as that disgusting sweatshirt you bought that you didn't even think was trendy.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jihadist militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq, in June  

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Robert Fisk
India's philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist Vandana Shiva arrives to give a press conference focused on genetically modified seeds on October 10, 2012  

Meet Vandana Shiva: The deserving heir to Mahatma Ghandi's legacy

Peter Popham
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home