I'd never felt so fat and frumpy. As I turned the corner and joined the growing queue of matchsticks, my excitement vanished like a white rabbit in a magicians hat. I cursed myself for not making more of an effort, wishing my fairy-godmother would miraculously appear with her wand and spruce me up like Cinderella, Stars in their Eyes style.
I was queuing for "Fashion Fringe", a particular event during London Fashion Week (LFW) that promotes young and budding designers' A/W collections. I'd managed to get a last minute 'press' ticket and had to pass myself off as a fashion journalist. Fortunately for me that wasn't too hard given the fact my last job was at a national newspaper. As I waited for my other friends in line, I took the opportunity to look around at the outfits on display. Spandex cycling shorts paired with platform shoes, painted faces, paper mache hats; it was like a scene from Alice in Wonderland, unusual to say the least. By the time I'd reached the front of the line, my friends had found me and we were ready to go inside for the champagne reception.
Immediately we were greeted by hosts offering a whole range of drinks. As a teetering alcoholic I didn't know where to look or what to choose. White wine? Yuck! Red wine? Drowsy. Beer? Too butch. Champagne? Bingo, bottoms up! I paced myself. "Sip, don't chug" I told myself, as I glanced around the room for any celebrities to 'interview' remembering momentarily I had to keep up my journalistic facade. The walls were adorned with plush fabrics, low lights and catwalk images which loomed down on me inadvertently making me want a new wardrobe....and a new body.
Disrupting my self-deprecating evaluation came a shallow, mellifluous voice cooing over my shoulder.
"Chanel?" she whispered, touching my floor length black skirt, uninvited.
"Er, no it's er...from Norway."
"Designer?" she continued.
"Er...no." I admitted, shuffling my £3 vintage Dior bag into view, making a feeble attempt to distract her from asking any further questions about my 'market' clothes. I cursed myself for succumbing to the pretentiousness of the occasion. Sure enough I had more pressing issues to worry about...like finding my seat.
People had begun to filter out the entrance hall and were making their way to the showroom. After necking back my final glass of champagne, my friends and I followed suit. Unfortunately, we were all sitting in separate seats, myself on the other side of the catwalk. My first obstacle was finding my block and row number. In theory, it shouldn't have been hard due to the fact there were only four rows. The reality was a different story. The rows were already brimming with over-eager student designers and wannabe fashionistas; everyone had conveniently ignored their seating numbers in order to try and get the best seats. All but one was filled. I speedily made a beeline to the empty place and began disturbing the peace. Like Pumba at the watering hole, I wriggled my way down the row towards the unoccupied seat in the middle, consequently making everyone stand up as if it was a Mexican wave. As I leaned forward for balance, my onion booty rubbed just about every crotch down the line and as I wedged myself into the chair I was grateful for the dim lighting concealing my flushed cheeks; hidden embarrassment.
Just as I had regained my composure, I was startled by a multitude of flashing cameras directly aimed at me. Me?! Why were the paparazzi taking photo's of me? Alas, it wasn't me, it was the blonde haired beauty sitting directly in front. Claudia Schiffer. I was just an extra. My uncontrollable 'fro offering a touch of ethnicity to the picture, a background aesthetic. I didn't know what to do with myself. Smile sheepishly like an idiot passing by in the background of a news report? Unsuccessfully pretend not to be phased by the supermodel inches away from me? Indulge myself in a fabricated conversation with the stranger to my left...or right? Too late. The cameramen were ushered away and the show was abruptly underway.
Three designers showcasing each of their collections in just under fifteen minutes. It went by in a flash, as did the click of my camera. I'm not really fashion savvy. Not savvy enough to describe the different outfits and designs, but nonetheless I enjoyed it apart from worrying if the malnourished girls would keel over and crumble into a heap on the catwalk. Most of the girls looked half dead, like ghosts, their faces lit up by the strobes as they scuffled rigidly down the aisle in unbearably high heels. Part of me hoped they wouldn't trip. The other half wished one of them would just for some free laughs.
When the lights came on signalling the end of the show, I grabbed my stingy, 'credit crunch' goodie bag, filtered through the crowd to find my friends and we made our way to the afterparty to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. By this time, I was less concerned with mingling and *ahem* 'conducting interviews' and more concerned with the free food on offer. I cowered in the corner by the kitchen doors to get first dibs and unreservedly helped myself to canapes off the tray. Pate, mini burgers, macaroons...you name it, I grabbed it. In a drunken state, with a full belly and a free goodie bag, there was only one thing left to do. Go home.