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An Insider’s Guide To Surviving London Fashion Week

Didn’t bag a ticket for the AW17 shows? Here’s your all-access pass

Fashion Month has officially arrived. The fash pack are flocking to the front row. Us: Refreshing our Insta feed an inordinate amount of times to coo over the latest OOTD. “Those shoes…THAT coat…Ooooh,” you whisper to yourself - looking at said person's sixth outfit change of the day. From an outsider’s perspective it is a fantasy funfare of FROWs, catwalk shows and after-parties…

Of course - there is a whole side to Fashion Month that you will not see on your social feed - from supermodel show prep to months of meticulous planning that goes into creating brilliant and completely bonkers £80,000 set designs.

So Grazia caught up with model Neelam Gill, fashion designer Ryan Lo, FROW fixture Amber Le Bon and set designer Gary Card to breakdown what really goes on behind-the-scenes and their insider tips on surviving London Fashion Week. Enjoy...

Neelam Gill

From her pre-fashion week beauty mantras to what gets her through the week, the 21-year-old Brit supermodel and Burberry favourite spills all…

The FaceTime…“Before Fashion Week I like to get an extraction, so I don't get any pimples during the shows - this is why I normally get a facial with Sarah Chapman in advance to allow myself a little downtime before it gets hectic. Her clinic in Sloane Square is like my second home - I swear by her products!”

Model workout… “I’m actually trying out boxing for the first time - I’ve started training at KOBOX. I was super nervous because I know it's intense but I love it. I want to stay long & lean, but try to get abs. That's my goal. I'm not very good at working out alone because I get bored and distracted so I find having a trainer much easier, especially when I create my own playlists.”

Off-duty style… “I love dressing up, but my day to day style is quite tomboyish, and I love mixing high and more accessible brands. A typical outfit would be an Acne shearling jacket, Supreme hoodie, AllSaints boyfriend jeans & Vans shoes with a Fendi handbag.”

The essentials…”Sleep! Headphones - I'm always stuck in traffic in London so I never leave without my headphones because I listen to music to pump me up. And my Portable charger…The days are long during and everything is last minute so I can't afford for my phone to die.”

First thing you do after Fashion Week? “Book a spa day. I love going to Akasha Spa at the Café Royal in Soho. It's so central but when you're in there you feel as if you've entered a whole new world!”

Gary Card

Gary Card has created grandiose and immersive set designs for the likes of Balenciaga and Moschino. This season he’s working with three designers at LFW: Roksanda, new label to lust over Marta Jakubowski and “one that cannot be revealed. It’s a super exciting show we haven’t worked on before.” Meet the fashion world’s secret weapon…

Gary Card designed a carousel set for Marta Jakubowski SS17

Stick to the brief… “Set designers have to be chameleons - you’ve got to have your own style but I always try to adapt to the designer and get inside their head. It’s their vision you want to translate.”

From concept to catwalk… “Roksanda’s shows have just got bigger and so we have to be more prepared for them. So a couple months before I’ll come in and she shows me what she’s been doing and her inspirations and what she’s excited about and I’ll show her some things I’ve been thinking about. Our visions then both come together.”

Location, location, location… “A month before the shows I’m looking at spaces around town, doing site visits, getting the right site building team on board. Then I’ll head back to my office in Hackney Wick to do a bit of design work. I’ll sometimes scribble doodles and ideas on the bus back to the office. I’ll sleep 5 hours a night if I’m lucky.”

Building a set on a budget… “We’ve had £80,000 for one show at LFW - an accessories designer - which is quite a lot. But with younger designers you obviously won’t have that - but there’s a willingness to make something really extravagant together with very little money. So with Ryan Lo it’s like: ‘Right…Paper! Tissue! Sparkly things!’ London is still the hub of creativity.”

Think BIG… “For Roksanda’s SS16 show me and 10 students from Camberwell College of Art hand painted a 180 metre mural. It took a about a week. Good grief it was an awful lot of work but it was an absolute privilege.”

Amber Le Bon

'A day in the life...' at London Fashion Week, according to Model, DJ and FROW regular Amber Le Bon…

Rest up… “Antonio Berardi kicks off at 9am, so I’m usually up at 7am to shower and get ready to leave the house by 8am. In-between shows - when there's a big gap - I'll usually head to my agency Models 1 to sit and read for a bit and keep out of the way. If I'm clever I'll have a car for the day or share one with Mama [Yasmin Le Bon] if we're seeing the same shows - it’s fun to have a show buddy.”

Make-up rules… “I like to keep my beauty looks quite simple. I find if I do lips then I forget about them an hour later and it smudges everywhere. My essentials are my MAC lip conditioner which saves my always dehydrated lips, and my Laura Mercier translucent pressed setting powder which I use with a medium sized soft eyeshadow brush to get rid of shine. A pair of dark sunglasses is also quite useful as a last resort.”

Pack a repair kit… “There’s been hysterical times in-between shows when I have to ask my driver to find a side road and help me with my zipper and hook eye fastenings! Or I’ve lost a heel stopper, and am frantically trying to google the nearest shoe shop. To find out every single one is closed - because it’s a Sunday.”

Plan your outfit like a pro…“I used to change for every show but that got crazy and exhausting: between 3-6 looks a day which was ridiculous. Now I might do two looks in a day which makes the whole experience a whole lot less stressful and more enjoyable. I like to think about what I'm going to wear the week before so it's all sorted and I don't have the last minute 'I have nothing, I hate my whole wardrobe' panic.”

First thing you do after Fashion Week? “I get some slippers, a blanket and a good movie and I fall asleep halfway through it. I think about having a long bath but I never quite make it.”

Ryan LO

The Hong Kong-born designer with a a penchant for Pepto-Bismol pinks, talks us through his LFW show playlist and why he’s planning his next collection RN…

Model walking in Ryan LO's SS17 show during LFW

Picking the playlist… “Usually the music comes first in every collection (even before the clothes or anything) as it sets the tone of the season and the attitude of the girls. For this collection I’ve been listening to Hip Hop from De La Soul. Fast and Furious 3 Tokyo Drift and some Cantonese 90s Hong Kong music about puppy love! The ‘Ryan LO’ girl is sassy, sexy, naughty, girly. She likes things that are traditionally quite tacky but she makes it into something super chic! This season she’s a Skate Chick - with two very good exciting collaboration projects…”

Designer uniform… “At London Fashion Week I’m usually wearing my favourite American Apparel oversized sweat shirt - a navy brown striped one. I think I’ve been wearing it for at least 7 seasons during my actual show!”

The pre-show fuel… “I’m usually snacking on sweets, spicy Chinese food and coca cola!”

Let the small things slide… “You want everything to be A+++ perfect but sometimes it’s just impossible. I just have to learn to let it go to accept the fact that we tried our best and there is nothing else we can to do.”

First thing you do after Fashion Week? “Usually I am 6 months ahead so I am designing SS18 and thinking about AW18 already.”

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