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The civilian’s guide to London Fashion Week

NFI to LFW? Pah, don't they know who you are? Here's to soak up the fashion vibes regardless.

London Fashion Week used to be a case of ‘if your name’s not down, you’re not coming in’ but these days the biannual round of fashion shows are a much more democratic affair. While you’re still unlikely to find yourself snuggled up front row next to the editor of French Vogue, fear not, there are plenty of other ways for us normals to get involved.

With the SS18 collections being showcased in the capital from Friday 15 – Tuesday 19 Sep,  Muddy’s Kerry Potter, glossy mag hack escapee and veteran LFW attendee, has some ideas for soaking up the fashion vibes, even if your FROW ticket got (*cough*) lost in the post.

Streams and screens

Groupon women in pink and pastel colour 60's clothes black background

No entry? No problem. The British Fashion Council now live-streams every show on the schedule  – catch them online here or here.  (You’ll be in good company – many show attendees ends up watching the shows this way from their cars, while stuck in the notorious LFW traffic gridlock.) Also, show highlights will also be shown on various outdoor screens across London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle. In previous seasons, the screen in Soho’s Golden Square, complete with deckchairs, has proved a good spot to catch your breath.

So what to watch? Topshop (4.15pm, Sun 17 Sep) has become a must-see, not least for its A lister-heavy front row. Plus now you can buy everything immediately online afterwards – part of the new ‘see now, buy now’ model in the fashion industry, which is starting to replace traditional seasons. Burberry (7pm, Sat 16 Sep) is always a talking point – this show dictates the mood of the season and always has a brilliant musical guest star (Alison Moyet with a full orchestra one season).

And if you want to a cool name to drop, Rejina Pyo (3pm, Tues 19 Sep), formerly Roksanda Ilincic’s right-hand woman, is one of the rising stars of LFW, with her dreamy, arty-but-wearable pieces in gorgeous colour palettes.  A little bird told me Rejina will soon do a collaboration with Next, of all places – more on this soon…

Shopping opp – London Fashion Week Festival

This used to be a bit of an afterthought to the show schedule but is now going from strength to strength each season. London Fashion Week Festival takes place at The Store Studios after the shows finish from Thurs 21 – Sun 24 Sep. What started off as a simple shopping event now involves catwalk shows, trend presentations and talks from industry insiders.  A whopping 150 brands are involved and tickets are from £20.

Roll up for the street style circus

The rise of flamboyantly dressed street style stars means some of the most ‘fashion’ moments take place on the pavements outside, rather than on the catwalks inside. Hang around outside the main showspace, Store Studios at 180 Strand, for prime people-watching opps – don’t miss the Japanese fashion photographers fighting over snapping peacocking Scandi Instagram stars in all their finery. See if you can spot any celebrity front row guests – they tend to arrive late, dressed head-to-toe in the designer they’re supporting. And the grumpy, harassed ones, wearing all-navy with white trainers? They’re the fashion editors, trying to get their job done amid the circus. Model/presenter Zara Martin will be hosting a livestream each day that’ll showcase the best street style looks.

The art of fashion

Dafydd Jones, Magdalen Commemoration Ball, Oxford, 1988

There’s a host of stylish exhibitions in London right now to whet your fashion whistle. First up, at Somerset House there’s Design Frontiers, which explores the work of 30 whizzy London creatives, from the guy who designed the Tube map (Harry Beck, donchaknow) to Vivienne Westwood. Burberry have curated a British photography exhibition at their new showspace, Old Sessions House in Clerkenwell, while the London College of Fashion gallery unpicks stylish collaborations in Fashion Together, featuring dynamic duos such as photograph Nick Knight and fashion maverick Daphne Guinness. My off-piste top tip? the V&A’s permanent fashion exhibition is an inspiring place to hang out and soak up design amazingness – unlike its buzzy temporary exhibitions it’s (a) free and (b) quiet.

Stylish sustenance

arket cafe paper place mat on silver tray white tea cup and saucer silver tea spoon half eaten biscuit and glass of water

Contrary to popular belief, fashion types do actually eat – when you’re whizzing across town from 9am to 9pm, taking in 15 shows per day, pitstops are definitely required. However, you’re unlikely to find Anna Wintour and co in the Oxford Circus Aberdeen Steak House. For a splash of Moet, the oldies are the goodies: try The Wolseley or Claridges. All-day brasserie Riding House Cafe is modern and buzzy, or head for Dover Street Market (now, confusingly, on Haymarket rather than Dover Street), to browse its ultra-hip collection of under-the-radar designers and drop in at the super-cool Rose Bakery. Finally, try the chic Nordic café at the hottest new high street launch of the year, Arket on Regent Street.

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