Backstage at Designer Ziad Ghanem
After a week running to catwalk shows and chasing people around to present you different and unusual street styles, I can say, with a little delay, that the London Fashion Week is now officially over.
Between the Somerset House and Freemason’s Hall, I went to many of the designer’s exhibitions and some of the catwalk shows. As a rookie in the business I was excited and overwhelmed with the fact that I had a pass around my neck and license to photograph (almost) everything I wanted.
All in all, if you think going to the shows is about seeing the new collections and exchange impressions about the shows, you are wrong. At least in the atmosphere I was in, it wasn’t. It was all about making contacts, knowing people and promoting your magazines. In one word: Marketing. I have no flyers left, but hopefully a few more people know about C-Heads. I met really nice people and the pretentious attitude I was waiting for vanished after a few minutes.
In between meeting people there are, obviously, the shows. I attended the first catwalk show on Friday night – Ann-Sofie Back – with Marina German from C-Heads, my partner in crime.
My impressions: First time in a real catwalk show, well done. Next time: get there earlier to get a better spot to take pictures. Always: have you camera ready, there is no time to adjust the settings and the show is only 10 minutes! A tip and lesson for the future: wear black, always a safer option. And finally a little secret: if you wait and queue outside the venue, most of the times there is enough space and they let you in.
Inside the catwalk show I was side by side with the photographers from the main magazines but I didn’t let myself intimidate. Although there was a big difference between us… well, more then one, really. First, the size of our camera’s lens and second, that they do this for a living and I don’t. But maybe that was my strength, I had to enjoy it and make the best of it. All in all, this was a challenge, and I felt like a character with new powers, I even forgot the fact that I am normally shy because there is no time to hide behind the wall.
My highlights? Absolutely and no doubts: Ziad’s Ghanem‘s Show at the Freemason’s Hall, part of the Vauxhall Fashion Scout. Thanks to Marina I went behind the scenes, watched the rehearsals, met the designer and even got a “good” spot to photograph the show. To be able to go to the backstage of an event like this is fascinating and revealing. The glamour is still there but we get the real and human side of the show. The nerves, the excitement, the details, the last minute amends, the friend’s and family support, all the structure needed to support a show: from stylists, make up artists, hairdressers, assistants, to the models and of course the main protagonist, the designer.
It’s so strange how we instantly think about fashion clichés, like people being bitchy and behaving like divas. That can be true in some fashion shows, I don’t know – but not in this one.
Moving to the catwalk show room, and after the light and sound tests and model’s rehearsals, with all the press in place, the lucky crowd with invitations was taking over the seats while two photographers decided to fight for the same spot just behind me. But they didn’t ruin the show, nothing could.
A few minutes after: Lights. Music. Silence. Cameras. Action. We had 10 minutes of surprise, theatricality, talent, drama, uniqueness, eccentricity and spectacle. Detailed and well-crafted designs in a show put together with a perfect narrative going beyond the normal bland catwalk show, a completely different level. I understood why some shows could be best seen in magazines and other not. If you go to Ziad’s show there is the experience you can’t forget, as you are part of the show and not just an observer. Some people say a picture is worth 1000 words; I hope my pictures can at least complete my words.
For all that matters fashion is a big growing and wealthy business. Some people ask why so much money is spent in this industry. The truth is that fashion is a powerful and influential area in many levels, supporting the survival of so many others. I don’t consider myself a fashion victim but respect a business that I don’t totally understand but know that has its place in our consumerist society.
From new trends to finding new boundaries in fashion, London Fashion Week is about show off and marketing. You can find all the new collections in the main mainstream magazines and websites. I do prefer to write about the human side of this glamorous market.
From London to C-Heads magazine, have a nice week. Let me know about any event you would like to know more about happening in London.
text and all images © Maria Cardador 2011