Harriet Walker: 'What would Anna Wintour do?'


Related Topics

As I sniff away the final phases of the flu I caught while attending the fashion shows last month, I find myself columnising for our hallowed Fashion Issue.

Well, I thought to myself, why don't I lift the lid on what fashion is really like? Why don't I overwhelm our readers with the glamour that is everyday existence in an industry famed for the poncing and preening of its major players?

What's it like, you must be wondering, to be one of the many lesser-known, more-unruly haired types who people the rows behind the front one and curse all those celebs as they totter too slowly in their heels and stop in crowded doorways to chat, unaware that you have a story to file post-haste or the newsdesk will be all over you like an ill-fitting jumpsuit?

Well. The reason I have flu is because we all have flu. The month-long biannual collections that kicked off in New York and ended earlier this month in Paris are essentially a travelling Petri dish of ego and sickness, fatigue and sore feet, that reconvenes every week in each of the style capitals.

Catch fashion flu early and you have the faint ignominy of passing it on to all your peers; catch it late and it retards your return to normal life, in which you are expected to get things done and turn up to work without being covered in snot. (The fashion industry may be snooty about looks, but during Fashion Week there is a very lax attitude to turning up covered in snot – mainly because so many people do it that it passes for a trend in itself.)

I am also quite tired. I'd put this down to the relentless to-ing and fro-ing, the kerbside writing and the pressure to be on the ball at all times, but I think it's more that I just didn't get enough sleep. I had to set my alarm to wake me up in the middle of the night, you see, because my hotel room had just one plug and I had (I know, I know) at least three media-tastic modern-day idiot gadgets that I needed to charge, without which I would have been up the creek without a dongle.

To access the lone plug, positioned under the desk by the window, I had to lie on the floor – my still-recovering broken leg has not yet graduated to kneeling. So I lay on my back – in my fashionable finery, I might add, although I removed my 10kg filigree headdress first – and swapped the plugs. Once in the evening, once before bed and once at 4am every night. But the hotel room was so small that to lie on the floor near the desk also meant inserting myself under the bed, then wriggling towards the socket, using my head as a rudder. I can only presume that Anna Wintour was doing the same thing in her hotel down the road.

I presume, too, that Ms Wintour ate the same things as I did: several burgers, a lot of Super Noodles, a cold pizza (in bed) and three bowls of pasta that had more of a BMI than the average model.

One might assume that watching otherworldly beautiful people modelling tiny clothes might be reason enough to exist on fruit and veg, but it actually makes you crave exactly the opposite. Also, I needed to keep up my strength for plugging in all my electrical goods.

The other thing about being a fashion journalist – besides all the heart-stopping glamour, that is – is the amount of flak you come in for from all sides, as everyone assumes you're either evil or an idiot, or (worst-case scenario, this) an evil idiot.

Some people are not interested in fashion, in the same way I couldn't care less about archery. For this reason, I don't read about archery, watch archery or talk about archery, unless it comes up in a conversation about Robin Hood.

With fashion, the people who say they are not interested in it are often the most vocal about how terrible it is. They read magazines and hurl them to the floor in disgust. They cluck at things they know nothing about and pronounce them immoral. But everyone has something to do with fashion (boo, hiss etc) – whether of the high-end or high-street variety – because everyone wears clothes.

So the next time someone says, "I don't care about fashion," or makes you feel bad for buying that must-have lemon-meringue-coloured broderie anglaise dirndl (keep up), note what they're wearing. These people are usually quite flamboyantly dressed, signifying that, far from being moral-high-ground-occupying ascetics, they're as obsessed with their appearance as anyone else. Often the worse insult levelled at those interested in fashion is that they don't think about anything more worthwhile. I'd say actually it's the detractors who have slightly too unhealthy a focus.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas