My decade covering LFW: A story of being front row, meeting idols and having sore feet

My first experience of London Fashion Week was more than 10 years ago, which makes me feel painfully old. And slightly tired. LFW does that to you. Tires you out and gives you sore toes.

It started pretty well, though. As in “no queuing and waltzing straight to the front row” kinda well, to sit sandwiched in-between Lisa Armstrong, then fashion director at The Times, and Hilary Alexander, then fashion director at The Telegraph.

Those were the days. Two of my fashion-writer crushes – women I wanted to emulate and whose previous day reports I probably could have recited back to them – and me, no doubt dressed appallingly, squashed in the middle. I can’t recall for a second what the show was, nor what was on the catwalk, so supremely excited was I by my fellow front-row guests.

This was great! I’d arrived! No matter the ticket was actually for Dolly Jones, then editor of Vogue.com, where I was a lowly writer and not even one dedicated to the Vogue website, but spreading my scribbles across that and Conde Nast’s other websites. I was just as likely to be typing out celebrity gossip for Glamour.com or cocktail recipes for GQ.com as I was catwalk show reports.

I learnt soon enough, i.e. when I had my own name on the ticket, that you don’t sit on the front row unless you’re the fashion director of a major newspaper, or Vogue, or a celebrity.

The subsequent years taught me to scrum with the best of them, and – as a journalist without the gloss of a magazine to her business card, but the still-in-its-infancy world of digital – not to take it too personally where my seat was. In fact, if I got a seat at all to celebrate that as a victory. (There was one particularly sweet moment at Carolina Herrera during New York Fashion Week where I sprinted in late and a friendly PR from the label scooped me up and popped me into the front row because I was “so pretty”. I’m not so pretty, but I do have an English accent, which might count for nothing back on home soil, but works wonders at New York Fashion Week.)

Street style wasn’t quite the industry it is now when I started out, but I’ve never been outlandish enough to attract those lenses anyway. My mantra for shows became: slightly more thought than usual, but still comfortable. The highlight of that particular strategy was a pair of fuchsia satin Topshop flats, which saw me through an entire LFW and into Milan, with a flurry of compliments that didn’t stop until I boarded the plane home and realized I’d left them under the hotel bed.

In 2011, I left fashion behind to launch The Huffington Post UK, and attendance at London Fashion Week became limited to the odd designer who’d a) failed to take me off their mailing list, or b) contributed to HuffPost and liked our broader news content.

There was one particularly odd week when I was at the Royal Courts of Justice to appear in front of the Leveson Inquiry during the week, and back again that weekend to attend a Nicole Farhi show. I didn’t wear the same outfit.

And this year? In my relatively new guise as the leader of WGSN’s content team where we’re HQed round the corner from Brewer Street carpark, I’m hoping I can watch it all from the window of the office.

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