Last Tuesday, I woke up with start and spent a while scrolling mindlessly through Twitter and Instagram. Comatose and horizontal, my laptop blazing on my chest and my neck folded into a series of chins, I peered through bleary eyes at the pretty people on my screen. Sure, social media is a bit synonymous with models and catwalks, dark glasses and fur coats, but this time the shiny, fancy people looked somehow familiar. This time they stood against a backdrop of pubs, Victorian houses, exposed brick and graffiti - a city that looked a lot like my own. It was London Fashion Week, and though I'd been plotting to go for a while, I'd got the dates all mixed up and it only lasted a few days and Tuesday was the last day and now it was Tuesday.
Justin, Oscar, Alex, and Adriel
I texted my friend Celine, partly because she's a great photographer but mainly because she considers people-watching a sport, and she was game to go. After a bit of detective work, we concluded that Soho was probably the best place to meet as there were a bunch of shows there that afternoon. All I knew about fashion was that I was too much of a peasant to have tickets to the shows. But we suspected that the most interesting people would be the ones who loitered outside, soaking up the vibes, having their photos taken and enjoying this strange, brief and blissful stardom.
Lena, Aoibhe, Courtney, Chloe, and Christen
I don't know if any of these people actually had tickets, or if they cared that they did or they didn't. They were there, like us, to absorb the atmosphere. Some came with friends but most were alone, and I wondered if they felt lonely in the crowd or just happy to be a part of something bigger. London's social code must have been temporarily suspended because strangers were swapping Instagrams and nobody was not worth talking to. An age-old truth was confirmed: that nothing beats an outfit for an icebreaker. Or so I thought. A few days later I got on a bus and sat across from the only other passenger, a girl who did a double-take as I walked past, because oh- my god, we were wearing the exact same blue linen coat. First I was horrified that I wasn't quite the Original I'd thought, then I was tempted to spout out something awkward like 'Nice coat!' but the moment had passed and it wasn't Fashion Week anymore: initiating conversation in public spaces was -once again- unacceptable. So I'm glad I got out of bed last Tuesday. This wasn't the front-row Fashion Week of identical genes and jeans, but a shared kind of kinship between individuals with nothing in common - but everything for a bit.
Part Two coming soon.