Every February and September, fashionistas of the world race to the world’s fashion capitals to bathe in the newest fashions and find ways to be the most exciting trendsetter. If you are anything like me, you look forward to Fashion Week Instagram feed the same way that children look forward to Christmas morning. Unless you are an industry elite, it is unlikely that you will get an invite to the exclusive catwalk shows, industry parties and award shows. Tickets are often difficult to claim. If you are aching to be fashion forward, Vodafone has the answer for you: London Fashion Weekend. London’s fashion industry opens its doors to those industry enthusiasts, and you can be one of them. The event runs from Thursday to Sunday with two entry points morning and afternoon. Tickets range from general admission to VIP (20 GBP to 200 GBP, approximately 30 USD to 300 USD). If you can manage it, go Thursday morning — it is by far the least crowded and you’ll have the best selection.
Budget your visit
London Fashion Week and the fashion weekend are all about acquiring new items of clothing. Your success in the weekend will ultimately be determined by your ability to budget: budget your time, your resources, your energy, and your clothing. The first thing to know is that whether you go in September or February, the event is held at either the Saatchi Gallery near Sloane Square (where it was this year) or Somerset House.
Wear something stylish and comfortable. Flats are key. Upon your arrival, you’ll be given entry to the event, tickets to the museum exhibit, tickets to the catwalk shows, and a guide of exhibitors. You will also receive a gift bag. There are many vendors who sponsor the event giving out random samples as well. You’re going to be in for a long day, take whatever snacks the sponsors are handing out. Look through the guidebook and identify any exhibitor you want to see and go there first, check out the rest on your way to and from.
The accessories hall always puts on an excellent display and you will want to make a stop there. The main event is the catwalk. Fashion weekend now includes multiple runway shows. A trend show held about an hour into your time slot, and the couture show held at the end of your time slot. The catwalk pavilion is where you will find designer clothes that walk the runway, as well as industry expert talks. Consult your guidebooks for times. It is a bit of a lottery as far as which designer show you end up seeing, but they are all worth it. The trend show is merely a display of trends for the coming season, but definitely entertaining. In order to get the best time seat you should line up early. Probably 20 to 30 minutes before the show starts. This will likely enable you to get a seat on or near to the catwalk.
Not the only runway in this town
London is one of the four major fashion cities, and as such, fashion week is usually accompanied by numerous public events for the fashion-enthusiast traveler. If you’re visiting London from afar, the best place to start your homage to fashion in the V&A Museum (Victoria and Albert Museum). The V&A, located in South Kensington, has a permanent collection dedicated to fashion, as well as rotating events. In 2015, they reconstructed Alexander McQueen’s famous “Savage Beauty” exhibit. Other exhibits have featured ball gowns, shoes, wedding dresses, and the forthcoming underwear. Admission to the museum is free, and exhibit prices vary (usually around 8-20 GBP, approximately 12 USD to 30 USD). The V&A also holds talks and other industry-related events.
Oxford Street Fashion Showcase will often punctuate fashion week in one of London’s most known shopping districts. Flagship stores host seminars and other events to gain insight into the UK fashion industry. The website has more details (included at the bottom of this page).
Forest Hill Fashion Week is held around the same time as London Fashion Week and showcases local, up-and-coming fashion talent. It is distinctly less formal, but potentially more innovative. If you are up for scouting new fashion talent, this could be your key to finding the hottest new designers.
If all else fails, head to the quirky, edgy, fashion forward district, Shoreditch or Carnaby Street and cobble together your own sense of style. Post it to your Instagram feed and become a sensation.
Eat. drink. model.
If you’re up for a bit of extending the fashionista pretense with dining and nightlife, London has plenty of swanky and fashion-oriented options.
Champagne and Fromage, is a charming bistro near Covent Garden. Serving champagne, cheese, and other small bites, it is the perfect classy meal for starting or ending your fashion themed day.
The ME Hotel London has previously with notable media and fashion industry companies for designer presentations and other fashion related events. The five star hotel is conveniently located on the Strand.
As far as nightlife and exclusivity, if you’re feeling truly exclusive, head to the Savoy and savor the magic that is the Beaufort Bar. It’s sister bar, the American is also quite good and amazing for sampling the life of luxury. The May Fair Bar, the Donovan, and the Chiltern Firehouse are also good alternatives to start your night.
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London has more than your typical tourist attractions and you can combine shopping, tourism, and high end couture for a memorable trip that all your friends will be jealous of. You just have to know where to look. Don’t miss the next London Fashion Weekend!
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