London Fashion Week: Front Row Myth and Madness

On the second day of London Fashion Week, here’s an exclusive insight into the mythically glamorous world of the ready to wear fashion show:

A  How to get a ticket and what to expect

Even if you’ve previously been to a designer’s show, you’ll generally still have to re-apply each season – and separately for every show you wish to attend. If you’re duly granted a ticket, you should expect to queue outside for at least half an hour to an hour before being allowed to enter the fashion show venue. In London this equates to standing either in icy winds, pelting rain or blistering sunshine. Then you’ll be subjected to the inevitable security guard once over – you may as well be a mad axe murderer.

Next comes the fight for a seat. If your ticket isn’t numbered, your seat is likely to be occupied by a fashion student by the time you arrive. Having to stand behind the seated rows is the ultimate ignominy. And, once in your allocated place, you may be sitting or standing around for quite some time. Shows on the LFW ‘schedule’ usually run much later than off-schedule shows.  Expect them to start at least half an hour late (up to two hours late isn’t unheard of…).

If you’re not c’leb enough to have been loaned a dress by the designer and you’re worried about what to wear, choose black – just in case you accidentally end up in the front row, or get photographed by a teenage fashion blogger. It’s best to keep a straight face throughout the show. Show absolutely no expression of emotion, or any indication of an opinion about what is on the catwalk. Dark glasses a la Anna Wintour are a useful accessory.

After the show, be ready to race to catch the LFW bus, or hail a taxi as soon as the show finishes – especially if you need to trek to the other side of London through horrendous traffic (and roadworks) to get to the next show.

B  Other considerations

The funding, effort and talent that goes into creating the shows and designs is enormous, but you may find that the magic of a five minute production is about as memorable as an orgasm. Never mind, as the shows can be viewed on the internet almost immediately after the event (without the bother of waiting around, or someone’s head obscuring your view). These days anyone really important – eg A list celebrities and large corporate customers, will probably already have had a sneak preview of the collections they’re interested in. And the likes of Sam Cam, P Middy and Sir Philip Green will be VIP’d in at the last minute, avoiding the queues altogether. It’s also worth noting that, unless you happen to be an A list celebrity or an influential journalist, no one actually cares whether you are there or not. If you’re a buyer, you can see the clothes and accessories modelled and actually get to touch them at showrooms and the LFW exhibition, so it’s unnecessary to queue for the shows. Many independent boutique owners and private buyers with not inconsiderable spending power (the lowest in the fashion-food chain) are already wise to this.

Note that front row goodie bags are better than second row. Don’t expect to get a goodie bag in the third row, or if you are standing. In any case, goodie bags and press packs are often pilfered by students if you don’t take your seat promptly. Free drinks and nibbles are few and far between – so grab them quickly if they’re on offer. And don’t expect to be invited back stage, or to the after party, unless you are a front row sort of person.

C  Who you’ll be sitting next to in the front row

1)    Reality TV stars and aspiring models – think TOWIE
2)    Daughters and (occasionally) sons of celebrity rock stars/actors etc
3)    Old school fashion journalists like Suzy Menkes and Colin McDowell (a dying breed)
4)    Teenage fashion bloggers (Tavi et al)
5)    Fashion students
6)    Department store/designer website and Far Eastern buyers
7)    BFC (British Fashion Council) bigwigs and event sponsors
8)    Friends and family of the designer
9)    Those helping out at the event (hairdressers, PRs, fashion students and friends)
10)  Anyone who’s pushy/precious//Italian-looking enough.

Unsurprisingly, private salon events are now considered more exclusive and desirable to attend than the shows…

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About Author Profile: Susan Muncey

Trend consultant Susan Muncey, is Editor of Visuology Magazine. In 2008, she founded online curiosity shop, She writes on style and trends for several blogs, including, and The Dabbler. She previously owned cult West London boutique, Fashion Gallery, one of the first concept stores in the world. Susan graduated in geography from Cambridge University and is also an Associate Member of the CFA Institute. She lives in London with her husband.

8 thoughts on “London Fashion Week: Front Row Myth and Madness

    February 18, 2012 at 08:43

    Although I was involved in this febrile world many years ago, it strikes me now as something that only star-struck youth would be interested in attending, with far too much forced-excitement a la American Idol. One of my daughters works on the ‘inside’ of this spooky world, and I have dropped her down to various catwalk shows over the years – and this has simply confirmed to me that either they are all on something, or that the masses really do get excited by a glimpse of Mary Portas. Vreeland was asked once what she thought about the way most people dressed. ‘Most people are not what one thinks about’ was an approximation of her answer. I place an orgasm a bit higher on the scale than you do, but if I want a bit of fashion stimulation (and who doesn’t, once in a while?), I go to

    February 18, 2012 at 11:54

    Thanks for lifting the veil on this mysterious world Susan, I don’t think you’ll find me on the fashion pages anytime soon

    February 18, 2012 at 14:27

    Nancy Mitford once described a fashion show as “a horrible trellis of crossed legs” and your photo bears that out.

    February 18, 2012 at 14:27

    Someone please kill the extra “out.”

      February 18, 2012 at 16:32

      Out, damned out!

    February 18, 2012 at 16:07

    I’d have thought that the legs are fine, but my goodness the shoes are ugly, with all the elegance of a recent American pickup truck. Well, I’m not expected to understand these matters.

    February 18, 2012 at 16:46

    In true Wormian style, I am ruminating over your comments whilst out and about… So, Mahlerman, you know the score… and on the scale?

    Rosie, I noticed that even P Middy had her legs crossed whilst wearing a very short skirt in the front row. Does no one teach these girls how to sit properly?

    You understand matters well, George. Ugly is ugly. And, judging by what I’ve seen so far for next season, they’re getting even uglier.

    February 18, 2012 at 20:07

    I understand fashion up to the 80’s. It was all about new things. But now it’s just variations on a combat trousered theme

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