London Fashion Week Is Full of Assholes
At London Fashion Week – and, I'm sure, at every other location in the world where it's somehow OK to legitimise the vacuous pastime of staring at expensive clothes for five days straight – everyone is more important than everyone else. Oh, you're a multi-billionaire Sheikh with your name carved into the desert? Well, I've got a street-style blog with 700 unique views a month; get back in line and don't think about even breathing near me again, you horribly-dressed rodent of a human being.
Fashion week creates this weird, temporary oasis where it's OK to ignore any basic norms of human decency. A photographer died last week at an afterparty and nobody seems to have paid much attention to that at all, bar a few flippant remarks I've overheard while standing in line. No one was expecting a candle-lit vigil in his honour, but some kind of recognition for a young life lost wouldn't have gone amiss.
Instead, LFW's been the same rib-elbowing, photographer-baiting clamour for the spotlight that it always is, and it's one that begins before you even get into any of the shows. I was unlucky enough to find myself (GOD FORBID) lighting a cigarette near the entrance to Somerset House the other day, when a European menswear buyer lightly grasped me by the shoulder, dug his bony claws into my neck and sent me pirouetting away into the dirt. Instead of helping me to my feet, his gaggle of leather-clad yes-men took good care not to tarnish their Salvatore Ferragamo wingtips on my bleeding lip. Because not only are they waaaay more important than me, but their shoes obviously mean substantially more than my health. Duh.
Queueing is the next masterclass in your own inadequacy. I'm assuming fashion week queues are where the act of sneering was conceptualised and ultimately refined, because everyone in every fashion week queue I've ever had the enormous pleasure of standing in has that, "Urgh, Jesus, the fact you're standing near me makes me feel like throwing up in my mouth" look nailed down to the ground.
Elbows, dagger-eyes and overtly false friendliness are all employed with mixed results in queues. The main problem is that, if everyone's doing it to each other, it kind of cancels the whole thing out. A paradox that I'd really like to see play out in a science lab. If one junior fashion assistant mimics the exact sneer of another stood directly opposite her, will they be locked in an eternal checkmate of bitch face? Or will the battling energy eventually cause a rip in the fabric of time itself, forming a supernova of envy, vanity, low self-esteem and antipathy that tears the guts out of every attendee in a 200-ft radius?
God, fashion would be so much more exciting if that kind of thing actually happened. That way, PRs would have something else to write instead of those soul-destroyingly dull press releases about how "this collection really means something" because the materials were exclusively sourced from a revived cotton mill in Norfolk, or whatever. It would make the working day far more enjoyable for everyone involved in fashion, bar the eviscerated.
Fashion week queues are also of the breed that gets wider rather than longer. That may be because everyone thinks they're more important than everyone behind them, which gives them the undeniable right to barge in wherever they feel like. Fuck you, fashion people. You utilise child labour and intentionally make fat people feel bad about themselves, but your blatant disregard for queueing etiquette is, without a doubt, the absolute worst thing about you.
The last stage in this triptych of shittiness begins when you're finally granted the right to walk through the hallowed doors of the venue you've been queuing for – after, of course, being pushed aside or slapped by all the people more important than you with special orange stickers on their tickets.
Seating allocations are a whole other article, it's the standing spots where you really begin to notice how important everyone is compared to everyone else. Much like the queues, I suppose, attendees' sense of self-entitlement is raised at least four notches on whichever arbitrary measuring system we're working off here when they're jostling for the best view through the small cracks between the three 6'4" drag queens making up the back row. Selflessness apparently isn't a thing any more; as soon as the lights go down and the inevitable Azealia Banks remix starts to blast from every speaker in the room, it's every man, woman and man-woman for himself.
One thing I'm keen to take away from all of this is an understanding of how fashion people's minds work. Are they cunts the whole time, or can this whole culture of being a selfish douchebag be attributed to the bubble these people tend to exist in for the other 360 days of the year? Most of these dictator-designers and their entourages spend their entire lives with ten other people who work for them and their brand name in tiny loft studios in East London. In plucking all from their mini hermit kingdoms, Fashion Week turns them into a crowd – the one thing their whole life is spent getting away from. No wonder chests puff up and egos collide, especially when bladders are swollen, too, at all the pose-athon afterparties.
There is a miniscule part of me that's tempted to applaud the complete lack of social pandering – creating an environment where people who are usually lauded as icons get relegated to the same nondescript cesspit where all the amateur bloggers and junior interns hang out – but it's just so hard to do when everyone involved is such an egotistical asshole.
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jamie_clifton
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