Friday, February 16, 2007

Last Day of London Fashion Week AW 2007

An early morning UK snapshot

I woke up around 6:30 on the couch in Andrew and Josie's hotel apartment. I slept like a log, probably due to the fact the I didn't have to stay semi-awake staying alert to crawling bugs. The sun was just starting to peek over the city scape outside when I looked outside. Shortly after Andrew and Josie woke up to start getting ready for their video shoot somewhere outside of London.

As for me, I went over to the BFC tent to shoot the Central St. Martins catwalk sponsored by Puma (the shoe company). The show started at 9:30am. Most of the photographers around me seemed impressed by this. A catwalk starting on time? What's going on?

Another identical track suit?

To start off, a bunch of guys dressed up in the same black track suits started walking out. We, me and the photographers around me, wondered what the big deal was. They were all wearing the same outfits. Then I heard some photographer in the back say "It's the Shoes!! They're all wearing different shoes!". Just then a whole flurry of shutters clicking went off as we all tried to shoot the shoes.

For the record shoes are not the easiest things to shoot if the model is constantly walking or moving. Getting the right angle with both shoes is difficult because one shoe will be in the air while the other is on the ground and depending on your angle one shoe may be blocked by the other leg. There was one photographer, the one with the large wok-like flash, whose main goal was to shoot shoes all week. At least that's what it seemed like.

"It's the shoes!"

The Central St. Martins finale

"Invites only". Photographers that weren't allowed in.

Next up, the show at the Asprey store located across town. To be honest I don't think it was way on the other side of town as the fashion bus transported us there. All I know is that it was far enough from the fashion tent that we couldn't walk there and get to the catwalk on time.

When we (as in me and the rest of the photo journalists) got there we were greeted by security telling us that we needed invites, without one we couldn't get in. This was a surprise to all the photographers as well as the BFC people that just finished transporting us there, also on the fashion bus.

It's possible that this venue was just very small and could not hold the entire mob of photographers. It ran through my head that another possibility was they wanted to create a sense of exclusiveness. By not letting everyone "off the street" in they could create a "want". After all it's usually the things we can't have that we tend to go after. This logic doesn't work very well with press people though. If you can't get in they you've just wasted my time when I could have covered something else.

While trying to figure out what to do with ourselves, "should we just skip this catwalk and go to the next show?" or "skip that show as well and go to the following show?", it started raining. We were called to go back to the bus where we would be driven off to the next venue.

It was around this time I bumped into Suzanne Plunkett a photographer originally from the US (Minnesota) now living in London. I met her a few days ago while shooting the Julien Macdonald show. She was one of the unfortunate photographers to have been crammed into the back of the photo pit with me and Enzo and some other unfortunate souls and as a result had to shoot over other photographer's heads. I suppose because of this we had something in common to talk about.

When we couldn't get into the Asprey show we decided to accompany one another to the Unconditional venue. The first stop was to the Claridges building. She wanted to see what was going on with the Marc Jacobs show later that night. It was easier to walk into the building, since it was along the way, then to try to get any PR person on the phone.

A model catches me out of the corner of her eye and smiles

It worked out well. I had the address to the show and a compass, she knew the London Tube and had a map. It didn't take long to get to the night club. When we arrived, the Heaven dance club was still relatively empty and since it was still fairly early, we arrived before the rest of the press on the bus, we took the time to look around to set up.

The main spot for photographers was at the end of a narrow hallway. With the front line of videographers (they take up more space with their video cameras and tripods) I was surprised to think that the space could hold more than ten photographers. Thanks to Suzanne, I managed to get a good spot on some stairs on the other side of the club away from the cramped official photo area.

Suzanne Plunkett poses as I test the lighting with my camera.

It was a nice vantage point in that you could see the entire large room of the club. The lighting was so-so but not much worse than the designated area in the hallway. Besides that had I shot in the cramped area I would have had to shoot between two videographers with maybe a half centimeter leeway on wither side of the lens and since I was standing on a platform I would have been shooting down. We had to shoot over the video guys after all.

Back at the staircase our only main problem was the light glaring off the floor (see shot with Suzanne). That was later corrected a bit by the lighting tech. It's good to be nice to this guys.

Overall the venue was dark which in the end went well with the gothy, punk, designs of Unconditional.

Unconditional's black coat.

Pom pom's, the latest fad?

Lily Cole in another catwalk

Our vantage point with a fish eye lens

The Unconditional designs were followed shortly by Ashish. With a few minutes in between I managed to copy over the files from my compact flash cards to my hard drive. It's the rare times like this where I keep telling myself I could really use more memory. A nice fat 8 gig card or two would be nice.

A dress designed by Ashish

Another Ashish design

After the two catwalks were over we all filed out of the club like cattle , I swear I thought I heard someone "moo", making our way to the fashion buses and eventually getting transported over to the main fashion tent where the whole day started off. Suzanne left, probably to go to the Marc Jacobs show where as I went into the tent to set up for the Bora Aksu catwalk.

Shortly after making my way in, it was hectic, photographers coming in last minute while people were trying to get to their seats, I bumped into Sibel, who again saw me first and told me that Derya was in the front row of photographers shooting. Almost the entire fashion week had gone by. Derya and I kept missing each other. It was great to finally run into her. After a brief exchange of hellos we went back to our shooting spots, me almost leaping over a group fiddling with their lenses, to shoot the show.


A Bora Aksu design

I wasn't sure what this thing was that she was wearing. Almost armour like it resembles a scoop so the "boyfriend" doesn't get away.

Laura Lens designs

Right after the Bora Aksu catwalk I raced over across the street to catch a bit of the Laura Lens catwalk being held on the OFF schedule. Then like a ping pong ball made it back to the main fashion tent to shoot the Gavin Douglas catwalk.

It was here that Enzo had noticed the women with all the cool and unusual hats. To update readers that may not know, last season we had noticed this mystery woman who wore a different hat to each catwalk that we saw her at. Her hats are very interesting to shoot as they are usually very unique.

Even though she has not been seen with the same hat twice, the mystery hat wearer gives a nice familiarity to attending fashion week in London. Kind of like those mini marshmallows that go with hot chocolate, I don't think shooting London Fashion week would be the same if she wasn't wearing her hats or didn't show up from time to time.

The mystery hat woman.

As for the Gavin Douglas show, his designs reminded me of the clothing in those old black and white movies (like Casablanca) or at the very least something I would have seen in Blade Runner. The shoulder padded jackets combined with the model's hair styles jogged my memory of that era.

Sibel decides to get off the bus at the last minute.

By the time the Gavin Douglas show was over I was a bit tired. Despite this I found myself getting on the bus to shoot the last show of the night (at least the last show without an invite), the Man show. Originally I wasn't even thinking of going but since this was the last chance at shooting something in London well why not?

Due to some miscommunication the show actually started before the press bus (along with me) arrived. When I got to the venue the first designer's catwalk was just ending. I managed to secure a bad spot in the back and since I had missed most of the clothing decided to shoot the photographers and the area that made up the venue instead.

Shooting at the Man catwalk

The nice thing about being at the very back, at this venue at least, was that I was able to be one of the first ones out of the building when the catwalks were finally done. Once on the street I started walking in a direction. It was a few blocks later that I realized I didn't know where I was.

"Wow" a big Microsoft ad

After getting my bearings with my map and my handy compass I found that I was near the area I had visited back in 2004 when I met Angie during the "Blueprint for Disaster: King's Cross" documentary shoot. I walked by a bunch of bookstores and eventually even found the little restaurant that we ate at a couple of years before.

London street at night


That corner restaurant

Hot Fuzz

I had noticed a lot of ads for a movie, "Hot Fuzz", while here in London. Tonight I walked by a theatre that was actually playing it. I debated going to see the midnight movie but ended up meeting Andrew and Josie for dinner instead.

A souvenir shop

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