Beauty and the Beast – London Fashion Week September 2017
I was an accredited photographer at London Fashion Week 2017 for the Spring/Summer 2018 collections. I have covered LFW for several years now. I decided this year to keep it simple. To photograph fewer shows but to take more photographs – to try out my new Nikon D5 http://www.nikonusa.com/en/nikon-products/product/dslr-cameras/d5.html – Nikon’s newest news and sports photography camera. I ended up taking over three thousand photos over two days…
Photography at London Fashion Week is highly competitive, with world leading fashion photographers, international TV crews and lowly freelances all fighting for position. A couple of years ago one of my news editors asked why I never photographed the top shows. I had to explain that the top shows operate an “invitation only” for photographers and only established fashion photographers for big name publications were invited. But, there are still many exciting shows with up and coming designers to cover not to mention the odd celebrity designer such as Pam Hogg – and more on this later.
An additional dimension to LFW was the large and noisy anti-fur protests. On occasion there was an interesting juxtaposition between the fashionistas (who show their fashion designs outside LFW venues hoping to be noticed and photographed) and the anti-fur protesters.
First shows at London Fashion Week
I decide to target the first two shows at London Fashion Week so that I could get photographs to the news, photo and stock agencies as soon as possible. The first two shows were by designers Richard Malone http://www.richard-malone.com/
and Paula Knorr. http://www.paulaknorr.uk/ Richard Malone is a highly talented Irish designer who is heading for iconic status with his practical, sustainable designs. Paula Knorr is another “NEWGEN” designer who is increasingly being noticed on the fashion scene.
Both shows were in the minimalist BFC show space which provide a superb clean backdrop to display the detail of these innovative designers.
The shows at LFW are quite fast moving and there are key lighting areas to get the best shot of the models so a high level of attention is required. Richard Malone’s show was interesting as it featured a string quartet that added texture and interest to the normal catwalk shots.
Paula Knorr’s show, while lacking the live music was a highly colourful event with multi layered textiles providing depth and glamour to her catwalk show.
I did visit the Designer’s showcase that runs during LFW, where there is often good photographs to be gained. This year however, I found no inspiration at all, not aided by the somewhat confusing layout. Perhaps next year will be better?
My third a last show was the iconic Pam Hogg’s show at Fashion Scout at the Freemason’s Hall. I am a great fan of Fashion Scout at the Freemason’s Hall. Their choice of designers are always interesting. The Freemason’s Hall, while at times difficult to shoot, is often atmospheric and lively with personality and character sometimes lacking in the BFC showspace.
Pam Hogg is, in the words of her own web site https://pamhogg.com/about/ a “legendary fashion designer, rock star and artiest” and “her fabulous fashions worn by everyone from Kylie to Rihanna”. Her show certainly lived up to the hype. It was colourful, provocative and in a word, stunning. Given the large scrummage of photographers and camera crews fighting for position – certainly popular with the fashion media. There was much shoving and arguments over position with at one point tempers getting very short. I was lucky, although at the back I was fairly central to the catwalk and with my trust steps just managed to photograph over the heads of those in front and I was pleased with the shots.
Backstage at Fashion Scout.
I was privileged to get a back stage pass at LFW Fashion Scout. I got some atmospheric shots of the models being made up and having their hair dressed to perfection. I am always careful not to outstay my welcome aware that this is a busy and important part of the process; but it does add colour and depth to LFW coverage.
Thank you #Fashionscout
One of the activities I love when attending LFW is the fashionistas. These are the people who dress up in their designs and fashion and wait outside the venues in the hope of being noticed and photographers – which they often are, particularly some of the very striking outfits. This year, sadly, there were far fewer fashionistas than in the past. This may be a function of the new showspace in the Strand where there is little room for them to strut their stuff. They may have also been put off by the anti-fur protesters outside – more of this later.
The animal rights and anti-fur activist group Surge https://surgeactivism.com/events/ had organised protests at a number of LFW events. My first contact with them was outside the venue with noisy protesters picketing the main BFC showcase venue in the Strand. This was an effective demonstration drawing much media attention with protesters in bunny outfits and splashed with fake blood.
The more interesting protest – by the same group was outside the BFI IMAX http://www.odeon.co.uk/cinemas/bfi_imax/211/?&muid=0D01954D-848D-42DE-A16D-AE4D017FE9F5&gclid=CNTPiLi8wtYCFca37QodNwkKUg where Gareth Pugh http://garethpughstudio.com/ had a fashion presentation. I was lucky enough to be tipped off that the protesters were going to picket this event so I arrived in plenty of time for a chaotic, noisy and, at times somewhat disturbing protest. Guest had to escorted in by organisers, security and later the police (poor old Metropolitan Police, stuck in the middle again), either directly into the venue or via the Costa coffee shop which appeared to be a back entrance in to the IMAX.
The protest became somewhat surreal when a large group of teenage boys on bikes turned up – I was unsure if there were just there to watch or if we were trespassing on their “space” but if looked quite strange.
I made my way to the tube station to go home only to bump in to the protesters making their way via tube to the next event. Another surreal scene with hundreds of protesters with their banners forming up outside Waterloo station under the watchful, if slightly puzzled eye of a British Transport police officer. I just love the way circumstance and luck can give me a chance for some idiomatic photographs of London and democracy at its finest.
I found this year’s London Fashion Week SS18 to be a bit more subdued than other years’ – although perhaps that was just me. There were fewer fashionistas and perhaps fewer photo opportunities outside the venue than in the past. I was a great fan of the Somerset House venue that allowed a free flow of the great, the good, the ugly and the bad in all shapes and sizes.
However, for all that London Fashion Week is still a world leading, iconic fashion event that shows of London at close to its finest. Throw in a few fashionistas and a large number of well organised protesters and you have a spectacle the modern day equivalent of the Roman Colosseum on circus night.
I shall return!