A Big Night Out at... a London Fashion Week Party!
Getting messy with the "coolest people in London".
So it was Fashion Week this week, but is it me, or is it always London Fashion Week? The world of fashion seems to exist in a state of perpetual self-congratulation, throwing parties and retrospectives for itself like one of those weirdoes you read about in the People who celebrate Christmas every day. I suppose parties are the "brainstorming sessions" of the rag trade, they have cocaine and free champagne where most companies have PowerPoints and paintballing. You've got to wonder if these people ever have any downtime, if they ever idle away their days buying light bulbs or watching videos of people falling off chairs.
Still, the sheer glut of Fashion Week parties means you don't have to be Grace Coddington or a member of A$AP Mob to get into one, any mere mortal who knows someone who knows someone who's something in PR can go. And sadly, that's who usually makes up most of the clientele: friends of the door girl and Topshop admin drones. If you think you're going to spill Rick "Zombie Boy" Genest's pint as soon as you walk through the door, you'll be sorely disappointed.
Instead, the sight I was greeted with upon entry was this. The party was being thrown in honour of a designer named Fred Butler (Fred's a girl, btw), who's probably most famous for designing an asymmetrical blue hat that Lady Gaga wears in the video for "Telephone". Gaga was in town too, would she turn up?
No, of course she fucking didn't. I guess it was still cool though, if by "cool" you mean everyone there looked like they'd thought about their outfit for a few days more than me? The smoking area felt like a pop-out Dazed centrefold, everybody there had a hat with some kind of gold on it. The look of the day seemed to be "LMFAO meets Idi Amin".
I have to say, the venue was a little disappointing. Its gold bannisters and pound shop chandeliers made it seem more like an office disco taking place in a seaside strip club than a meeting of clothes geniuses.
Due to the last-minute nature of the guestlists at these events, I wasn't able to collect my studded leather vest and Boy London snapback from the dry cleaner's in time. So, I had to make do with my usual pub guy garms. "Floridian tourist who's accidentally found himself in the club while searching for an Angus Steakhouse" probably isn't a look that's going to get me on Bip Ling's blog any time soon.
Manning the 1s and 2s for the night was the somewhat incongruous line-up of blog-approved chop n' screwstep producer Two Inch Punch, and almost forgotten early 00s pop princess Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Oh, and her husband, who is something to do with that band The Feeling.
I should probably admit now that Sophie was one of my first ever celeb crushes. Some time later on the dancefloor, I told my photographer that we should get a photo of her DJing, to which I was answered by an icy tap on the back. I turned round and was confronted by the woman herself. "I just finished," she said, with the kind of vigour that's usually preceded by a slap. I was stunned, shocked, frozen by my own lameness. It was probably the sexiest thing I've ever been involved with.
Depressed by being parred by a girl whose freeze-framed face I once smooched on a TV screen, I decided to head out to see what the rest of the club was up to. That's where I met these girls, who looked more like they should be tearing each other's hair extensions out in a fight over a Wigan striker at Mahiki than hanging with the young creative set. But hey, at least they look like they're having fun, right?
At the other end of the scale were these two dears, who probably run a "Dog Cafe" in Brighton or a Socialist pottery class.
The guys were a mixed bag, too; mostly you had chaps like these, who would probably dehydrate if there weren’t a table nearby for them to order a drink from and who mainly seemed to be there to grope models.
The Dom Perignon Dracula in the middle really took the prize for "person most likely to end up killing a prostitute", though. God, just look at him; he looks like he masturbates over natural disaster footage while fixing the stock market. He looks like he has a bed made out of ivory and leather.
...and then you had these bros, who look like what all Scottish people think people from London dress like. You have to hand it to the Scots; they might all be depressed drunks with mouths that look like smashed up pianos, but they're solid judges of character.
I did like this guy, though, even if I had no idea who he was. Let me know in the comments? (Just don't say Crocodile Dundee, I already checked and he HATES that.)
Then I stumbled into this playa, who spent the evening sauntering around like he owned the joint. Which he probably did, because I couldn't discern any other feasible reason for letting him in. I imagined him to have inherited some kind of 500-year family lease on the club that the Russians who probably run it now can't buy him out of. He swanned about the place like a syphilitic stately home owner admiring his paintings while the rest of us used his toilets.
When we asked this guy for a picture, he pulled the kind of face I'd only previously encountered when I'd stood on someone's dog's foot on the tube.
But later I began to realise that he couldn't help it, his cheekbones had locked up like a micro scooter in winter, his eyes glazed over with frozen pain. He was trapped by his own loucheness, a disco Elephant Man.
Even when his friend tried to snap him out of it with a tender kiss, he still wouldn't budge. He was stoically going down with this face like a dying robot. Remember guys, you pull a face and the air conditioning settings change, you'll stay like that.
The sexual tension between these unlikely lovers was palpable. He might look like a Mediterranean golf course owner and she a member of an art-punk collective, but together these two are the Bogart and Bacall of Camberwell.
By this point, things started to get weird. The combination of the flowing Russian firewater, coronary doses of caffeine and all the weird and wonderful people began to stir up a sense of phantasmagorical chaos. I was in a Roll Deep video directed by Federico Fellini.
The thing about a lot of these designers is that they probably spend a lot of time locked away with the same people, the same close-knit circle of arse-lickers and yes men who applaud their every decision like it was Roosevelt's New Deal. I can't imagine this does much for your social skills.
The room began to fill with middle-aged women I could envisage slapping interns, all of them completely off their faces as they stumbled across the dancefloor requesting Blondie and sniffing a whole lot like it was 1979 all over again.
The dancefloor had become a war zone of passive aggression, nobody here wanted to fuck each other, but everybody wanted to fuck with each other. A circle pit of bitchiness was forming around me, so I headed back to find more weirdoes and celebrities.
Oh look, the lord of the manor is back and this time he has carefully glued on some hair extensions. In the clearer light, I wondered what he'd look like now if he hadn't got famous selling boots to Paul McCartney back in the 60s.
I was starting to think that my celeb-spotting would be limited to SE-B and a few style bloggers I'd probably recognise if I still read the Evening Standard rather than just stared at the floor on the tube these days. Looking back on it though, the man in the shiny grey jacket is none other than silver medal winning boxer, Amir Khan.
(Interestingly, the Big Night Out series also managed to catch a man who looked very much like Team GB's James DeGale trying to buy a drunk guy's pizza off him in Newcastle. The Big Night Out: a place with more drunk boxers than Strictly Come Dancing.)
I began to wonder if some crazy fashionista had slipped something in one of my many drinks when I saw scenes like this taking place around me, but the camera doesn't lie. These supposedly cool people really were playing table football, the shittiest and most tedious game on Earth. Seriously, I'd rather play Spin The Bottle with Buju Banton or British Bulldog with a Syrian death squad than waste any time playing this game.
I suppose it was only a matter of time before nu-metal made a comeback in the high fashion world. I can see it now: teenage girls re-posting pictures of Mudvayne on their tumblrs, Arena Homme + doing "Casey Chaos – GET THE LOOK!" features and Topshop reproducing a range of Family Values tour T-shirts six months after everybody else has moved onto screamo.
By this point, it was all too much for this gent, lost in the land of nod like a bored and confused parent at a Twilight screening. I realised that I empathised with him more than I had anyone else all night, then the free booze ran out, so I went home.
What did I learn? Well, not a lot really, I've been to fashion parties before and they're always exactly like this. Confusing and disappointing in equal measure. If anything, the night felt nostalgic, the disco, the coke, the suits and the silliness. Fashion people don't rule the roost like they did in the days of Gianni Versace and models getting their legs insured. It's a cottage industry now, much like the theatre was once upon a time. A small group of people, most of whom work oil rig hours for paper round money, who maintain their bond by getting very drunk together, very often and wearing funny clothes.
We do need fashion to keep us going, though. Ridiculous looking people are a staple of any worthwhile society, from Cleopatra to the NYC club kids; haute couture has always been one of the best ways of testing the water of culture. Without it, we'd all be listening to Elbow and wearing Henri Lloyd fleeces.
Follow Clive on Twitter: @thugclive
Photos: Jake Lewis
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