Fashion Lifestyle The guardian

How to fit in at London fashion week: a beginner’s guide

From theguardian

London fashion week starts on Friday and I am going for the first time. I imagine it’s full of glamorous and fabulous people, so I am worried about fitting in. What should I do? Cara, by email

Oh young neophyte, innocent little babe wandering into the dark wood! I read your letter and I see the words, but the sound in my head is that of Ariel the little mermaid, splashing about happily and carefree in the sea, but singing about how she wants to be where the people are, wants to see them dancing, walking around on those – what do you call them? Feeeeeeeet! (Note: you do not walk around on your feet at fashion week – you walk around on the newly re-issued Prada neon wedge sandals with patent leather flames coming off the back. Also, I realise that the Little Mermaid analogy makes me Ursula the sea witch and I’m OK with that. I’m just here to help you, you poor, unfortunate souls!)

The first thing to stress is that fashion week is a very serious business event. It’s not just about champagne, OK? Fashion is a billion-dollar industry! Jobs! People! And clothes – everyone wears ’em! And anyone asking if perhaps there’s a better way to run this industry than making the world’s fashion press schlep to four random cities twice a year, take taxis all around those cities to even more random locations to see wildly expensive clothes, the majority of which will never be worn by anyone, with the front rows filled with celebrities, rather than the journalists, well, you just don’t get it, my friend. It’s all about creating an image of aspiration, yes? And aspiration sells clothes, and that leads to jobs and and and …

Oh, forget it. Does anyone want to read another justification of fashion weeks? I would rather hand-wash my cerulean blue jumper. Let’s focus on your question, Cara: how to get through it. Now, it all depends on whether you want to be an alpha, a beta or a gamma. A gamma is someone who is happy to stay as anonymous and invisible as possible, and bravo to them – sitting quietly on the sidelines is underestimated, now that everyone wants to be the star of the show. You enjoy yourselves, gammas.

The alphas and betas have different priorities. Sure, they are there to look at the clothes on the runway, but they are really there for people to look at THEM. They pick out three outfits every day – and another for the evening (they are not FARMERS, as 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy would say) – and their entire sense of self hangs on whether a 19-year-old blogger photographs them for their streetstyle Tumblr and what seat a harassed PR put them in for the show.

And yet the alpha and the beta are very different beasts. The beta cares and shows everyone they care; the alpha cares, but pretends they do not. So, if the beta is photographed by streetstyle bloggers on her way into a fashion show, she will frantically hunt down that photo online and put it all over her social media (total beta move). The alpha, by contrast, will treat the style bloggers as pesky irritations, her eyes heavy with patient irritation as she explains to the panting masses whether her jumpsuit is from Chloé or Céline. Should anyone tell her later that her photo made it on to the front page of a popular fashion website, she will feign interest before turning away and pointedly not Googling said website.

Then there’s the seating. By now, everyone (even the gammas – even the omegas!) knows that the row you are in is a reflection of how important you are considered to be. So, a beta will go through all of their invitations as soon as they arrive; if they are anywhere other than the first row, they will have their assistant call up and scream at the PR. An alpha will not take their invitation out of its envelope until they arrive at the show venue. They will then simply take their seat in the fourth row and effect an air of such otherworldly indifference that it will be communicated telepathically to the nearest PR, who will rush over and put the alpha in the front row. All the while, the alpha will insist they really aren’t bothered. At this point, the beta will be booted out of their precious seat and moved to the dreaded second row to make room for the alpha, thus occasioning the mother of all beta meltdowns, which the alpha will ignore by gazing serenely at the runway.

So all you need to do for fashion week, Cara, is to decide whether you are an alpha, a beta or a gamma. Good luck, my child.

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