My date bailed to the French Alps so it took me the best of the day to get someone to come with me to a party at London Fashion Week. Dutiful Kaoru, my faithful Assistant came to the rescue. After several Fashion Week Parties in the past years, I am savvy to the attire of such rendezvous. You must be with Plus One! Should I need to mention, dressing the part comes with the territory.
There is no such thing as turning up on the expectation that you might make friends for the evening. People – or rather – Fashion fiends attend for the photographers; for the look-at-me-aren’t-I-the-greatest; for confirmation of stature in the fashion hierarchy; for dog eat dog; and of course, to show off the latest rag to riches and sucking up to buyers and press with air kisses, darling, darling, sweet heart – how-lovely-to-see-you.
The intention is to promote my label but I do go for the cocktails, free champagne and if I am lucky, the canapés. I know I am the ant in the food chain with my small scale LELUU collection but its good to see what people are wearing, what designers are making and observing the ugly-beautiful girls towering high and narrow above me, bellowing to obedient bar men, “I just want a fruit cocktail, Darling! No Alcohol! Just something with fruits and vitamins, I got to show to do tomorrow!”
“Pomegranate & Passion Juice OK?”
After scrolling and scanning down leaves of her guest list, the gate keeper lets us into THE party and immediately, we are showered with the bare backs of middle aged women exposing their liver freckled spots and St Tropez sun creased legs slightly covered by some low cut mediocre couture. The women simultaneously turn their heads sheepishly over their backs like stalked deers, greeting new arrivals with a sharp breakneck up-down-up-away peak of the eyes, surveying threats of being eaten alive by a hot (or has been) celebrity or younger, fresher blood. Being nobodies in our case, they turn away.
We head for the bar and make for the selection of cocktails, straw in mouth, sucking away and drawing in courage to mingle and network the beast of Fashion Week.
Don’t forget to say “please”.
Once the spirit hits, we start to giggle, holding onto our little hand bags with grip, balancing thinly on high heels, laughing off the extreme stereotypical size zero girls posing sexy for the photographers, flirting, pouting, trifling, in their belt of a dress and what’s that animal on her head?
The gay designer with the eyeliner and the red neck scarf in a yellow suit must have spent a couple of hours sculpting the blonde streak on his hair to look like the waves of the pure blue ocean. He flaps around his girls pinning and beating his ‘baby’ dresses into place, stops henning around and finally rests his elbow on his arm, shoulders back, in a proud stance, “Werk it Girls! Werk it!”
“But I thought they only do that in the movies, no?” Screams Kaoru in a disbelieving chortle into my ear, “I can’t believe it! I am in Zoolander. No! I am in Ugly Betty “.
“Yeah! And I am Ugly Betty!”
It wasn’t long before we were approached by the under worked photographers – old men with their new digital toys can be intrigued by Oriental girls who look too cool for school, “May I take a photo ladies?”
Kaoru and I glance at each other in a shy discontent and huddle together with our arms dangling stiff like a pair of teenage girls you see smoking at the school bike shed who look a bit menacing but are actually tyrannized by everything around them. “Smile,” commands the lazy pap, “show us your teeth!”
We show our teeth, like Wallace & Grommit. The old paparazzo is either, one, still getting used to being able to take unlimited pictures with a digital camera and just takes one or two photos or, two, realizes that these two girls are a no go-er and politely asks our names and what we are wearing before ducking back to those active mannequins and taking a lot of pictures.
“I really like what you are wearing”, says the senior brunette has-been something or rather, maybe still something, someone, with the bleeding red lips and the hunch-back. She edges in and whispers as if trading a secret, “I think you’ve got a great dress on. I love it!”
“Thank you very much,” I chuckle in surprise, “Its very kind of you to think so.”
“I can see you’ve got style”.
“Well...” before I can even think how to respond, the old trotter, trotters on with her glass of champers and the three clutch bags she is clasping for dear life.
“Perhaps she couldn’t decide which one goes best with her little black dress,” says Kaoru.
As the cocktails falls gracefully down our throats, we begin to lose poise when hunger strikes. At these events, we, the people, fiends and foe start to battle for the niggardly canapés. Dignity is ditched and everyone dives for the unsuspecting waiter as he feverishly tries to feed the 500. All the arms and hands arch out from nowhere and within a blink – all gone!
There are some who would modestly take one or two and there are those who are brave enough to block the waiter and take the whole plate to share it amongst their group or even worse make a meal of it all by their lone selves. Criminal! Once the food is taken, it goes to a new territory that one assumes others will obey, but when a piece of sushi is taken off my palm by a devilish White Witch of Narnia, she manages to gob-smack me speechless.
Survival of the fittest – is what Fashion Week is all about. Girls are trampling onto each other to front photographers and they are so famished, they are out stealing cucumber sushi off unwary guardians.
I need the acute show off factor, the maximal “fashion” way, of “yes darling, I love it and I love you even more…” The cocktails can never change who I am or what LELUU is ever about and that is, not this.
Having seen enough as well as being transparent to the host and his soiree guests, we decide to leave. Upon departure of the powder room, bursts in the model, Sophie Anderton, followed by a flock of her hair-raised entourage. “I can’t believe it,” she barks, “how can your dress just fall apart like that? I was in front of everyone? Did everybody see?”
We are blocked in the 2 room toilet, trying not to laugh, trying not to react. Just observing. “Don’t worry girls,” she roars at us, “the guy is the designer, he needs to fix my dress.”
“No worries,” I glee.
“I got to do a TV show in a bit, I got to head over to Sloane Street and meet some radio show and then get back to Soho House for a meeting with my agent and…….”
“Excuse me!” Commands Kaoru firmly, “Please let us out!”
By Uyen Luu/ LELUU EAST LLP