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#195 London Fashion Weekend

March 4, 2011

Somerset House, not looking a day over 250, darling, ignore what they say.

Mrs Brown was skeptical about this. To put it mildly. I booked tickets anyway.

“Fashion!” I said. “You know! It’ll be fun! Thin people with sour expressions! Bulimia! Ugly Betty!”

“Hmm,” said Mrs Brown.

London Fashion Weekend is Vodafone’s attempt at spinning out London Fashion Week to the uninitiated, the great unstyled like us, who have no chance whatsoever of getting in to see a genuine catwalk show. It’s held at Somerset House, and is a chance for smaller brands and designers to muscle in on the week’s glamour. We donned trenchcoats and giant dark glasses to blend in, although we may have accidentally looked like superspies. Ho hum.

Chandelier installation, wittily made from photographer's light reflectors.

While the various clothing stalls weren’t much use to us, and the piled-up merchandise made everything more like a church fête than a high-end boutique, the people-watching was great. There were some gratifyingly ludicrous looks going around, most of which involved working the whole ‘Edwardian lady stumbles into a Chinese bordello’ look that’s so popular right now. Accessories out the wazoo. We couldn’t move for scarves. The odd bowtie still being rocked by the sparse male contingent. A few genuine fashion one-offs doing a ‘Grace Jones-meets-Grace Kelly’ number, or ’18th-century pinstripe pimp’. Mostly, though, the place was full of burb-tastic youngies, aching for a taste of couture but ending up at the Superdrug Nail Bar instead.

An entrance attendant manages to look accidentally and appropriately Georgian.

“See?” I said as we stumbled back out into the rain. “That was fun, wasn’t it?”

“Hmm,” said Mrs Brown.

The real star was that elegant, slightly eccentric, larger-than-life design classic – Somerset House itself. We’ll come back soon, and take a tour through its rather nutty, complex and paranoid history.

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