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Blagging into London Fashion Week: A Guerilla Guide

Laura Gabrielle

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Prepare, prepare, prepare ................................................. 3

What to Get Your Hands on ................................................ 4

It’s Not What You Know .................................................... 7

Looking the part ............................................................. 9

Aim High .....................................................................10

Security ......................................................................10

Work Experience............................................................11

Blagging on the Fly .........................................................14

Blags not to Try .............................................................14

What to do Once You’re in ................................................15

Backstage ....................................................................16

The Ultimate Blag; the After Party ......................................17

Invites All Round for Next Season. .......................................18

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Guerilla Guide to Blagging Your Way into London Fashion Week

Introduction

The fashion world is notoriously one of the hardest to penetrate.

Possibly full of the biggest egos in the world, it isn’t the easiest to

make friends with. London Fashion Week has to be one of the

important industry events, showcasing the talents of those at the

top as well as the up and coming designers. It’s the place to be, for

everyone who’s anyone. So how do you go about being one of these

somebody’s? Well read on my friends, and become part of the

glamorous show that is fashion.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

The art of getting into the fashion show is not something which

should be left to the last minute. These events are strictly by invite

only, and it is very hard to get through the Fort Knox-like tight

security.

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What to Get Your Hands on

The actual exhibition at London Fashion Week probably isn’t of

much interest to you unless you are a buyer for a shop, and let’s

face it, you would have your invite in the post already so why would

you be reading this? What we’re really interested in is the limited

invites sent out by each designer to exclusively view their new

collection on the catwalk. This is where the celebs gather, hoping

to be seen as the latest fashion muse, and to hang out with the cool

kids.

Why Should They Invite You?

Most fashion designers have a stock audience that they invite every

year, but there are always a fair few invites that are up for grabs.

Of course, in order to get your hands one of these golden tickets

you need to prove that you’re worth the paper it’s written on. Here

are a few tips you could use to aid you in your convincing;

Setting Up a Business
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Most designers won’t say no to the possibility of new custom,

so this blag is perfect. By giving them the notion you are

setting up a new clothing business and would like to come and

view their collection to see if it would be appropriate for you,

you may just receive an enthusiastic invite. Beware though,

often this approach will end up getting you a very personal

invite to their show room; avoid this at all costs. Just reply

with the very polite notion that you would rather see all the

clothes in action on the catwalk where they belong!

It is likely you will be asked for a bit more information about

your planned set up. If this happens, just inform them of

where you're looking to locate your shop, what kind of

customer you foresee buying their clothes, when it will be up

and running, and various similar nuggets of information like

that. They'll be grateful that you've made the effort to

explain, so take a bit of time to make your business sound

worthwhile.

Very few designers or PR's will actually ask for a letterhead or

a business card, but even if they do – your computer can come

to the rescue!
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With the amount of new programmes at your reach today, it’s

simple to design and print off such necessities to support your

blag!

Obviously if they ask for a website you could take a few weeks

to build one; although chances are, you can get away with

saying it's in progress, or you're planning to have one once

you're open. Not every business has jumped on the

technological bandwagon just yet!

Fashion Journalist

Fashionistas give off the vibe that they, of course, know

everything, and we, of course, wouldn’t want to make it look

any different. We can use this to our advantage and come up

with a name that they may just pretend to know at the risk of

sounding not ‘in the know’. Construct some sort of edgy,

avant-garde title for a magazine and ring the press office

telling them you’re a brand new fashion mag. (they should

have heard of you) and you need a pass. Fashion is all about

making an impression, so build up a rapport with the person at

the other end of the phone. Ask them how the week’s panning
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out, whether they've got any confirmed guests you may be

interested in featuring in your story, what the shows looking

like, etc. All of this effort before asking for your passes will

certainly not go amiss and definitely help in your favour.

If they're still not taking the bait at this point, you can offer

to let them see your feature before it is published and edit it

as they wish; every PR's dream for their client as it guarantees

excellent exposure. Or, even better, inform them that

someone rang you a few days ago saying they’d send you some

but have only sent one; you need two more for your

photographer and your fashion editor. Et voila! Two fresh

press passes which not only guarantee you entry, but also a

nice close seat and if you're very lucky even queue jumping

privileges!! This is one of the best blags, as show organisers

are always on the prowl for extra publicity, something of

which you’re appearing to offer them, hassle free.

It’s Not What You Know

The first ingredient for a successful blagger is to use all your


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resources. The London Fashion Week website is a key component to

the blagger’s game. It lists every single fashion designer as well as

their PR companies, it’s your crucial entrance pass to the world

which you are trying to penetrate. Every single email address listed

is there for invite queries, so they’re the best place to start your

quest.

Step one: Go to www.londonfashionweek.co.uk.

Step Two: Go to the 'Show Schedule'section of the site.

Step Three: Go to the 'Contacts' link on the left hand side of the

page.

Step Four: Download and save the list of 'Catwalk Contact

Information'.

This information lists email addresses and contact numbers for both

designers as well as their PR representation. The PR usually

allocates show tickets and deals with various requests so it would

be best to send your blagging emails to them. That said it doesn't

harm to send them to both of course!

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Looking the part

If you’re tall, have chiseled out cheekbones and are sporting the

latest anorexic look then you have a heads up on the shorter, less

fortunate looking guerrillas. Looking like you belong on the runway

is certainly a good place to be, so if you’ve got it flaunt it!

Fashion is all about personal style, and originality, so following the

masses on the high street is not a good way to go. Dress to impress,

but not too much so. Nothing sticks out more in a line of elegant

understated beauties than someone who’s tried too hard. We can’t

all look as stylish as Kate Moss in worn jeans and a little white tee,

but we don’t need to go dressed to the nines. The look we’re going

for is effortless so don’t be afraid to wear what you’re comfortable

in. To use an industry favourite quote;

‘Make sure you’re wearing your outfit; the outfit is not wearing

you.’

If in doubt, black is commonly every fashionistas best friend in a

time of crisis. It ingeniously hides a million sins and slims like a


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dream, placing you quite nicely alongside those dripping in style.

Aim High

Don’t just stop at one invite; try your hand at getting as many as

possible. There’s nothing better than getting your face known at

various different shows and this could easily be your gateway into

being showered with invites to next season’s soirée.

Security

Security at Fashion Shows has stepped up a notch since those little

anti fur terrors - armed with their red paint and talcum powder -

decided to ruin every show they possibly could. Don’t make enemies

when it comes to security guards, or the clipboard Nazis – it’s a

well-known fact that most of them are failed policemen/models

who still live with their parents so if you accord them the respect

they feel they deserve and make them feel powerful you’ll have a

far greater chance of getting in.

The mantra of the guerrilla is “be prepared” but if for some reason

you have to resort to improve then try these guerrilla tactics:


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Fake your own staff uniform: Sport probably one of the most

exclusive garments of the event; the LFW T-Shirt. These T-Shirts

are worn by staff all over the event, and sets them apart from the

rest of us mere spectators. Fashion is a world full of replicas and

fakes, so why not fake your own staff uniform? Think of it as a fancy

dress costume, though it needs to look as authentic as possible, oh,

and another thing; accessorise, accessorise, accessorise!

Most of the staff sports a LFW identity badge; this is where you

really get to show off DIY skills that’d make Blue Peter proud. With

technology being what it is today, it’s somewhat easier to research

and thus copy the appearance of an ID badge. You can copy the

image from the web and then effortlessly place your own headshot

in the necessary space. This will give you access to pretty much

anywhere, including backstage, to witness the tears, tantrums and

downright brattiness. Just be extra careful that you don’t get

dished out a load of staff duties that you won’t be paid for!

Work Experience

All PR companies and designers love the prospect of some free help,
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so work experience is the perfect gateway into their world. Yes,

you will be working for free, but it certainly isn't the case of doing

something for nothing. It's one of the best ways to gain future

contacts as well as getting to experience backstage and even

possibly some after show parties! This blag needs to be approached

extra early, so you can beat other wannabes to the prize. This is

how you should approach it:

1. From the 'Catwalk Contact Information' on the LFW website,

make a list of as many PR's email addresses as you wish. Look

for the PR companies that are listed most frequently, as these

will have the most work available.

2. Compose a simple letter asking for work experience. Include

what you do, and why you would like to work with them.

3. Email the letter to your listed contacts. (Emailing is much

more effective than posting as it's quicker and easier for both

you and them.)

4. If you don't receive a reply within a week, write a short

reminder, but remember to keep it polite. The run up to

Fashion Week will have kept them very hectic and busy!
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5. Usually you won't need to go to an interview, but some

companies may ask for a CV. In this case, send them a well

rounded CV, not necessarily with an abundance of experience,

this is the reason you're offering to work for free, after all!

Don't worry about references either, they usually won't check

for just a few days of work.

6. With all the hard work you've done, you need to sit back,

relax and rejuvenate ready for the hectic days ahead!

PR's and Designer's aren't going to give work experience to every

Tom, Dick and Harry so you need to be someone they'll be

interested in. The following may help;

Fashion Student perks

Fashion students are the industry’s future, so they are often

taken very good care of. Try brown nosing the designer first

and then asking for a work experience placement, this may

lead to the crucial response you are banking on.

Budding Designer
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Although designers are in competition with each other, there

are often willing to help out young, new designers and put

their prowess to good use. Nothing makes a designer feel

better than having the chance to show off their extreme

knowledge of the subject. It also helps if you shower them

with complements too.

Blagging on the Fly

Even so, if you do find you have to leave it until the last minute, try

kicking up a huge fuss a couple of minutes before the show is due to

start. If you’re lucky enough, you might just stress someone out so

much you’ll be able to blag a last minute spare seat, but this isn’t

the recommended way to gain entry. If all else fails and you really

have no other way of entry, there’s always the back door, along

with the excuse that you popped out for a cigarette and left your

ticket inside.

Blags not to Try

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Just like fashion there are some blags which will never be stylish

and will never work on anyone.

• Pretending to be someone you're quite obviously, not.

No one can pull off being Anna Wintour or Naomi Campbell so

it's a fashion make-over not advisable to try. Don't even attempt

mimicking those who you may think are less known, as the people

you are blagging to be are very likely to know exactly what they

look like, i.e., nothing like you!

• Not doing your homework.

If you're imitating someone within a certain field, the worst

thing you can do is not know your stuff. Take some time out to read

the latest fashion bibles; Vogue, Harpers, Tatler, Elle, and get up to

date. The last thing you need is someone asking you what you

thought of Lily Cole's dress on the catwalk if you don't even know

who they're spouting on about!

What to do Once You’re in

Talk to people. There’s nothing worse than being surrounded by


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various industry professionals and not taking advantage of it. Make

like the best of them and get chatting, it’s your best way into the

after parties! If you’re not sure about how to start conversation,

saying hello as if you’ve just been reunited with your long lost best

mate is always an ice breaker, and usually the ego of the victim

won’t give in to the embarrassment of asking just who exactly you

are.

Drink as much free Moёt as is physically possible (or even Cristal if

you’re going for ghetto fabulousness). Have fun, look down at the

people who were given a worse seat than you and slate the models

for being far too thin to represent real people.

Backstage

Even if you’re not the typical bloke looking to gawp over the models

getting changed, the backstage atmosphere can be something of

quite extraordinary value. It’s the chaotic underside to a slick and

sophisticated world, and is always worth a peep. If you’re not so

lucky to have received a press pass or gone to the trouble of making

your own staff ID, you might have to rely on your gift of the gab
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(that’s presuming you have one), and use any reason possible to get

you on the other side of the curtain.

Any of the roles that you could have used for gaining the tickets in

the first place will help you along with this one, but fashion shows

vary, so always assess the situation before you go mouthing off and

making yourself look like a style mishap.

The Ultimate Blag; the After Party

Any guerrilla who manages this one definitely deserves to be

partying with fashion’s greats. The fashion show after parties are

notoriously difficult to get an invite to unless you are a known name

or face. It’s best to try and get your invite in advance to avoid

disappointment. Contacting the PR Company planning the party is

your first port of call. You should be an expert at making yourself

sound like someone important by now, use this to make them an

offer they can’t refuse. Offer them publicity, exposure, media

hype; it is every PR’s fodder after all.

If this isn’t your style, another route you could go down is to make

them aware of the fact you have been to their last few parties and
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were promised an invite to this one and haven’t received it. Of

course, you will need to do your research for this blag. Find out

what kind of party they threw, where it was held and who else was

there. Then engage in some delightful conversation about how

much you enjoyed it and that you were rather looking forward to

their forthcoming event; you just need the tickets to attend!

As for last minute, talking to people at the fashion show is one of

the best ways to get an invite, network your way around the room,

compliment people on their outfits, massage their egos a little.

If all else fails, and you find yourself stuck in a queue wondering

just what it is you can say to the bouncer to avoid him laughing in

your face, you would do well to gain some insight into the world of

‘Blagging your way into a club’ by a trusty fellow guerrilla.

Invites All Round for Next Season.

As I have before mentioned, there are loads of techniques you can

use to make sure you're remembered when the invite lists are

compiled for next season. Working a room is vital, as is knowing

how to come away with contact numbers for those you've chatted
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up during the evening! Work experience is the perfect way to gain

contacts you may never have access to, so take advantage of this.

The best way to get friendly with those who'll remember you next

year is to party very drunkenly with them at the after show parties;

that's even more reason to try your hardest to get into them!

Good luck and happy blagging!

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