You pinch yourself moving around backstage at London Fashion Week. Kate Moss, Alexa Chung,Amber Valletta, Shalom, Yasmin le Bon – all catching up… having a laugh. Backstage was a show. To be there and be part of it was amazing.
Our Senior Stylist Adam Bennett was there this year to support the ultimate hair maestro Sam McKnight. Racing from point to point. Claridges for Mulberry. Old Billingsgate for Top Shop. Royal Courts of Justice for Nicole Farhi. A grand Georgian house in Portland Square for some classic Moschino in back-combed beehives. It wasn’t just a case of standing in tents at Somerset House.
As part of the team you have to prep each model. Sam checks and fine tunes each one before they step out. They’ve come from a dozen other shows and worn a dozen other looks that morning. It’s up to you to create something new, that is as natural as the first. You can only do this if you know your products and know the classic techniques. And you may only have five minutes to do it in.
There’s no room for error or ego so if takes four hairdryers and a make-up artist working at the same time on a single model so be it. Watching great make-up artists – Val Garland, Charlotte Tilbury – at work on Kate Moss for example was incredible: real, free-flowing professional friendships come alive.London Fashion Week backstage might look chaotic but it’s people working brilliantly and professionally together.
Luckily London is the second of the Big Four. (NY, London, Paris, Milan). The divas don’t start “happening” until they’ve been on the road for days, weeks, running from casting to casting, fitting to fitting. This year, everybody is just excited to be here while journalists run ragged, trying to cover 12 shows on the hour, scattered across several London locations.
And then the big moments happen.
Picture several hundred people watching. Raw pictures going out, unedited, via social media, around the world. What you get is what you see. So the hair has to be amazing. And Sam McKnight is one of those rare few who can handle the pressure, still deliver, and do it calmly.
Suddenly it’s not just a pony tail any more. It’s whether it’s high, low, on the nape, on the side, whether it’s braided, straight, or textured.
Out there in that sea of cameras there are journalists, bloggers, style gurus who look more at this kind of detail than they do at the actual clothes.