Out in the Fashion Jungle


It's a mad world out there! While pretty models strut around in beautifully created garments for you, you barely even have time to register the catwalk! That's the world behind fashion - hectic, crazy and a gamble at that!

By: HH Alexandra Orloff, CEO, Sacha Orloff Ltd

Posted on: October 10, 2010

It is a mad world out there! While pretty models strut around in beautifully created garments for you…you barely even have time to register the catwalk in your brain! That’s the world behind fashion…hectic, crazy and a gamble at that…

Forget about the leaves falling down and the weather getting colder. All eyes were on London for Fashion Week, where more than 80 design houses showcased their Spring Summer 2011 designs for press, buyers and fashion fans around the world. Come and join us in a pleasant Spring daydream... However reality was in the air. The Spring Summer 2011 shows were flagrant and the season’s work evolved to be far more structured and adventurous than the previous years’. Has the re-emergence of the UK from the recession given a new lease of life to the fashion industry? One can believe so, as this season’s collections embraced the necessity for change, creating not only more visionary and exciting pieces, but embracing a new-found opulence in textures and shapes.

If you think that preparing for fashion week is as simple as receiving an invitation through post, think again. It takes months of preparation and incessant decisions on who you wish to see and believe will be ‘the next big thing’. It is a gamble between settling for older and established ‘megabrands’, or putting your chips on a smaller ‘it’ designer. With Swiss timing and a military precision, time flies running to-and-fro from runway shows to designers meetings. Glamour goes out the window as you rush to check if you have the right passes and make yourself seen and heard among a hoard of fashionistas - or else the doors to fashion paradise are closed, and you can be waiting in the anteroom of despair.

Queuing, rushing, pushing, getting into the rows (will it be the front row?) - photographers assembled in front of the white walk, noises, laughs, goodie bags, small water bottles for each seat on the first and second rows, and press releases of the designer.

On the right hand side of the white carpet are all the buyers seated - waiting to discover if the next season is going to be a hit - to buy or not to buy. On the left hand side: the press and the bloggers mixed with celebrities, some famous, some B to C listers, believing their presence is a ‘must’. Hush hush, the lights are off. The anticipation. Silence. And then the drumming beats of music, hypnotic in its rhythm. All eyes are on the catwalk. All are waiting for the first apparition which will make or break the show. The scene is set and the first tall, evanescent model opens the show.

Again, if you thought you were going to feel threatened being surrounded suddenly by these beautiful giraffe creatures, think again. One might laugh looking at these slender, lighter and slimmer than ever young girls - straight of a coach from Odessa - who gravitate towards the pulsing lights and pulsing music which has transformed the catwalk into a circus. They are literally defying gravity! Apparently, the new fashion is to walk with your back arched backwards at a 35 degree angle. Better you than me. Their heels are comparable to hills. The sheer height of their footwear gives the impression that the catwalk has become Mount Everest rather than St. Tropez. Everybody watches with bated breath. Sartorially, and deep inside, everybody wants a show to remember. The unavoidable catastrophic hecatomb at Charles Anastase runway happens - more than five models consequently fall due to their ladder heels. Let the show begin!

Flashes, iPhones, Blackberries, digital cameras - pictures, videos and blogs are the name of the game. Is anybody actually watching the show? Doubtful. The audience can always catch up later via Twitter and Youtube. The importance is not watching, but being there - being part of the lucky few who can dictate the season’s must-have items. The most difficult task was getting the right shot - this undoubtedly requires pointy elbows and a rather flexible arm/hand guidance technique. This is the jungle. Every photographer for himself.

Back on your tiny bench, the crowd is devouring the new cuts, the colours, the lengths. This Spring Summer 2011 will be very feminine and very black with a see through style. The cuts are clean and light. It breaths puritan decadence. The silhouettes will be elegant, sandy, caramel, kingfisher and white. Dresses are flanked with mesmerizing prints and Armani-an looks. Cupcake shapes and girly looks are the order of the day. Be aware that the well known North African ‘Fez’ is back, the famous truncated cone hat, yet it has to be in bright satin (try pulling this off in the London Tube).

In the crowd you could spot the singer Paloma Faith, Amber Rose - the model and ex-girl friend of Kayne West, Amel from the Sugarbabes, and Bridget Nilson (lifted and re-lifted). Not to forget, our very own mascot ‘Rudolf’, the male Japanese wannabe blogger, photographer and socialite of London Fashion Week, made quite a dramatic appearance. He was dressed in an Autumnal look with woolen tights under a short pair of lederhosen, very sweet and precious. He was wearing deer horns on his head, or maybe mimicking the Afternoon of a Faun thinking of Nijinsky and Debussy.

The up and coming Italian born designer Kinder Aggugini, is making a name for himself in England. His pieces have a Chanel style mixed with Hermes touches excellently. The collection was themed ‘Out of Africa’. Stitches, lining, finishes were faultless where the collection moved from a crisp colonial silhouette with sharp tailored edges, to ethnic-style outfits with looser fabrics and softer movement.

Busy is just an euphemism, it was overwhelming work. Forget sleep. There are after-parties to attend - go and be seen. Explore an Alice in Wonderland world of creatures, who think of themselves as being famous, maybe for their incredible incongruity, some barely dressed showing the world their naked behind (Oops! Was it a girl? Or was it a young male with a super mini skirt?).

And you think that after London you can rest? No, there is Paris Fashion Week. There is a mad rush between choosing and buying the collections to other runway shows, writing articles and columns in the Eurostar while traveling from St Pancreas to Paris Gare du Nord, and worrying whether you will get enough time to finish it. Is it a life or a theatre? Is it reality or a nightmare? It is stressing for the sake of the customers, who are going to decide from what they have been fed by the press, on what is going to be ‘in fashion for the next season’. It is a gamble hard to play and a mistake hard to pay if you don’t gamble your next fashion trend move correctly.

Russian and Spanish aristocrat, HH Alexandra Orloff, is the CEO and owner of Sacha Orloff Ltd, a consultancy offering services and products in luxury jewellery, watches, and fashion industry. Having worked in numerous prestigious luxury brands, she has enormous expertise in strategy development for luxury brands across emerging markets. 

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