Roller Derby, Fashion, Rock & Roll, Food, and all the nutty stuff in between... with photos!
Sunday, February 10, 2008
London Fashion Week AW 2008 Day One
My view out the fifth floor
Woke up at 6:30am this morning. Translation: I had 2.5 hours of sleep. Surprisingly I was not tired. I made my way to the BFC fashion tent for 8:30am. I figured since the first show didn't start until 9:30 that that would be early enough. This is based on last year when I arrived hours earlier only to find security wouldn't let me in and no one in administration would show up until the runway start time anyway. The start time for the catwalk had to be pushed back so that everyone (including press) could view it.
"Hey, Jumper is playing this week"
The London taxi cab. I sort of feel like I'm in London.
The union jack appears about as much as the Canadian flag appears in Canada.
The Fashion "Tent" located outside of the Natural History Museum
This year however I got to the photo desk and it was already surrounded by people. Some photographers I recognized from the year before. They had my pass on the computer. They just had to print it out and it would be ready. As it turned out my email into the black hole had actually found someone at the BFC. It always worries me when I send stuff in as I never get any confirmation email as a follow up. I have to rely on blind faith. It's important to note however that the BFC administration has always been good to me. Imagine yourself faced with a bunch of photographers all at the same time needing things. Badges, directions, infromation about designers, you name it. All at once. All in the same time span. It can get pretty ugly.
At 9:00am sharp photographers started to file in. Holy cow. It was like someone told them to all be there at 9:00 sharp. The population in the photographer's lounge quadrupled. It became a mad house. It was at that moment I received my pass complete with a photo of me on it. I squeezed my way out of the photographer's lounge and made my way to the photo pit in front of the catwalk to mark my spot.
The photo pit is an allocated area where us fashion photographers mark up a small square with tape. It is important to do this at the beginning of the week and as early as possible as that's the spot that you'll be standing in for the entire week unless you can some how luck out and find another spot because someone hasn't shown up or someone feels nice enough to let you into their spot.
It's always a mad rush to get the prime spots. As an international photographer it's a bit more difficult compared to the British photographers. It's because you're not even in the country the day when they mark off spots. This is usually the day before fashion week is advertised. That is unless you can fly in a day or two in advance and get the information required to even know when they're going to open the doors to the press.
A good indication of how fashion week will run can be found on the first catwalk of the first day. This is the easiest day as people are relaxed and not very organized. Usually it's pretty much stress free with maybe the exception of getting your photo ID. In the photo pit, most photographers are still trying to find out where they are standing and generally will accommodate you.
Based on that assumption I would say this week is going to be INSANE. There were a large number of cameras in the pit this morning. The spaces available were pretty much all spoken for. I did however manage to get a space that fits my two feet perfectly. As long as I don't move much it's okay.
It's important not to panic no matter how bad the spot you are standing in is. If it's too off center you pretty much have to resort to shooting crazy environment shots and hope you can get an angle that the photographers in the pit can't get. If you're lucky enough to be closer to the center you still have to deal with other people who are shooting in front of you. Some may be sitting down, some may be tall with big heads. The point is you won't know until just a few moments before the fashion show is about to start when all the photographers settle in. At that point you can usually find a hole to shoot through. It might be over a shoulder, under video tripod legs, under human legs, or through someone's curled arm focusing a camera. Sometimes you luck out and get to shoot through open air. What a treat!
Simon, the lighting tech, checks the lights...
There was a significant amount of time between the Paul Costelloe's catwalk and Caroline Charles' to allow me to go back the photo lounge, send email then get back to the photo pit to take photos of the behind the scenes. It was a relief to see that Simon was here again doing the lighting. This is the guy that's ultimately responsible for making London Fashion week a joy to shoot for us photographers. Consistent lighting. I can't stress enough how great lighting makes for great photos. Sure, it helps to personally have good composition skills but with good lighting you're at 90% the way there.
...meanwhile the models are instructed on how to walk the catwalk.
I love shooting behind the scenes at a fashion show. It's usually the stuff most magazines are not going to print and as a result the general public doesn't get to see or appreciate the work involved. Magazines generally publish the photos of the catwalk to show off the clothing. They're not usually interested in the models getting directed during rehearsal wearing their own clothing and usually can't afford photographers shooting a rehearsal when they could be sent out to shoot an actual catwalk in progress.
Doing a test walk.
The scheduled catwalk
Ben de Lisi
By this point the photo pit was crowded much more so than earlier today. It seemed like photographers had multiplied and come out of the wood work. I noticed a wall of Italian photographers in front of me that weren't there before. (Note: I've got to learn how to speak Italian as they always look like they're having so much fun kidding around with one another.) One of the guys noticed I had been shoved back from my marked area and offered a case for me to sit on so I could shoot in front of him.
Being a photographer and a scum usually doesn't pay off at London Fashion week or I'm thinking at any Fashion Week any where in the world (at least I'm hoping). If you can accommodate others around you, for the most part, they remember and try to help you out later on. After all you may get a great spot at one location but get a completely crappy spot in another. Unlike in Toronto, London Fashion Week occurs in many different venues around the city. This means a lot of different locations and a lot of finding the right spaces.
Ben de Lisi pops his head out at the end of the catwalk
Who's that with all those people swarming her? Some footballer's wife? Why no, according to my London source, it's Alicia Dixon the winner of this years 'Strictly come dancing' on the BBC and also an ex-member of the girl band 'Mis-teeq'! (Thanks Farah)
Michael, Fiona and Yves
After the Ben de Lisi show I figured I'd call it a day. I wanted to wander around London and more importantly get something to eat. Over seven hours had passed since I first got to the fashion tent. I made my way to my favourite grocery store very conveniently located across the street from my hotel.
Sainsbury's!!! Woo woo!!!
The hotel sign for where I'm staying.
After getting a sandwich and something to drink I made my way up to the fifth floor (using the ten flights of stairs) and dropped off my camera stuff. My backpack was heavy and I decided to take a small nap before taking on any crazy hikes.
Andrew orders thai food
"This is where we are going"
An advertisement in the tube
I wasn't planning on shooting this collection as I was thinking of confining myself to the fashion tent today. After waking up I thought I'd go shoot the Jaeger London catwalk instead I opted to grab food with Andrew and Josie at a Thai restaurant across the street from my hotel. Since they were going to see Ann-Sofie Back I decided to join them.
It's almost like her coat was cut while fighting a guy with a sword.
Yes, those do look like panties hanging out from under her
It was at the TopShop venue (University of Westminster) near the Baker Street tube station. As a side note, this was the first tube station I got to know fairly well on my first trip to London. I took photos all around it for a show (Blueprint for Disaster) and afterwards the crew and I ate food across the street at the Globe pub.
The catwalk was very fluid compared to other runways. The models were zig zagging down the runway criss crossing each other making it a small nightmare for the photographer expecting them to come out in a straight line. I really wasn't prepared to shoot this. As I didn't think I'd be shooting anything after eating thai food, I didn't bring my monopod, so I shot the whole show hand held.
The show seemed pretty long and my arms were getting tired from holding the camera and deeking around the videographer in front of me. Midway I ran out of battery power and had to go to my photo knapsack to get another one. While doing this, I lost my space by the time I got back. The bag is too big to have sitting next to me so I had to place it out of the way by sitting it next to the wall. It's a real pain in the ass. I hate that bag. Although it got me on the plane with all my gear, I'm finding it difficult to get photos because I have to stop to take the stupid thing off or go to it to get the proper gear out.
The Top Shop for the second floor balcony
Singing for change
Later on after the catwalk we made it back to our hotel and ended up going to the Tesco. A variety / small grocery store that's open late. Just outside there were a group of guys singing. Not really sure if they were drunk singing or if they were actually there to collect money for some charity. A girl stood in front of them with a hat collecting change. I threw some money in and they all started singing. After taking a few steps away I walked back and asked her if she was part of the blue coated singing troop. She was. I thought it would have been funnier if she wasn't and just happened to be standing around with a hat asking for change.
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You do well on those "just turning" shots.
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