Liz Jones’s Diary: ‘In which I’m snubbed by the fash pack’

I’m just home from London Fashion Week. Gah!

In a way, it was lovely to be in the big old smokedy-smoke*, standing outside a venue in my tall shoes, observing young people, ambition writ large on their eager, shiny faces, milling expectantly. I imagine that to them I’m the equivalent of me spotting legendary fashion figures Suzy Menkes or Grace Coddington 20 years ago, though perhaps slightly less recognisable, given I don’t have an Elvis quiff, or flame curls.

Abbey Lossing at handsomefrank.com

I adore the eccentricity of the fashion wannabes: the fur motorbike helmet that was never once removed. The bare midriffs (‘Aren’t you cold?’ I muttered under my breath).

But I have mixed emotions about my career in fashion. There were high points: the chauffeur-driven drive to Lake Como, the last few miles lit by candles, for dinner with Donatella. Dancing alongside Madonna in Paris. The Dior show held inside the Orangerie at Versailles when Gisele was first to appear on the very long catwalk in a black ‘Bar’ suit. We emerged from that show on to the lawn where a risotto big enough to be seen from space
was being stirred, a string quartet playing. The evening was only marred by the fact that not one fashion editor would give me a lift back to central Paris in their town car so I had to
get a bus, which to my horror was going the wrong way.

When I left my editorships to write for the Mail, I hadn’t realised how very different my experience would be, given magazines rely on luxury advertisers, so need to be uncritical. Here, we are not expected to fawn at all. Sent to New York for fashion week – fresh from my glossy and the routine of someone fetching my morning Marmite on toast – I was shocked, at the Donna Karan show, not to be shown to a seat but told, by a very young lady** from the same firm that had bowed and scraped before me for years, to ‘go and stand over by that wall’. I cried. I soon toughened up. I had to, given I was bodily ejected from backstage at Christopher Kane***.

But it has been a little galling, this past week, having emailed every designer grovellingly for a ticket (‘I’m a huge fan!’), to get assigned just one during the entire event. Particularly when my one-time apprentice and now editor of a newspaper posted about her ecstatic time front row at Erdem when I wasn’t allowed inside and was told to ‘move away’ from the velvet rope.

Before anyone comments that I am merely ‘entitled’ – as they did when I tweeted about being unable to get toast in first class on the way to London (and no, I haven’t claimed the fare or hotel or taxis on expenses, thanks very much) – this isn’t about me ‘wanting’ to be front row as some sort of status thing. It’s because I can’t tell you about the clothes ‒ what
to buy, what not to waste your hard-earned money on ‒ without seeing them first hand, feeling the fabric backstage.

Streaming isn’t the same. If I just do that, I can’t tell you that a former editor has a photo of herself as her screensaver. Or that the editor of a big important glossy, who I stood next to on the steps of the New York Public Library before the Victoria Beckham show (and before you ask, no, I didn’t get in), had a great big bogey. The people in this industry are not as polished as they make out to be, and it’s my job to burst their bubble a bit with my barbs.

But it’s funny, the pull fashion has. I now really want a lovely, slouchy blazer from Cos, which held a runway show on the last afternoon. This a high-street brand I’ve always reviewed glowingly. Was I whisked inside to take a seat?

Not on your nelly.

* That line is from Bridget Jones. Is anyone ancient enough to get my references, or should I not bother?
** Foetus.
*** I’d thought if I did a backstage story about the make-up, I could slip unseen to a seat to watch the show.