Back Stage with Huishan Zhang at London Fashion Week

As I was packing my suitcase I was thinking to myself; seriously – your going to London Fashion Week, actual LFW not the weekend aftermath this time it’s the real mccoy.

Arriving at Euston the heat hit and oh my I wasn’t dressed or prepared for the weather.  Will I ever learn, a few years back I went LFW weekend leaving Scotland that chilly morning in my faux fur coat and tights only again to arrive in an indian summer.  In the excitement of it all I never checked the weather.  It was all a bit last minute – I read and reread the email.  “We are delighted to have you confirmed as a Backstage Dresser for HUISHAN ZHANG at LFW tomorrow”  It was a case of hotel and train booked, the dress code was all black, flat dark shoes, no heavy make up, short nails and no jewellery incase the delicate fabrics were snagged.

I packed light, all black outfit for Monday, the basics – PJ’s and underwear.  I travelled in jeans, blazer, light knit (!!!) and my trainers.  It was 26 degrees when I got to London.  My feet were like balloons by the time I got to my hotel, I ended up with the blisters from hell and later on that night I was on the phone to my mum when I jumped out of bed after discovering a rash all over my legs. Helloo prickly heat!

No rash, blisters or seriously puffy tired face was going to dampen my day, I’d never been to the Holburn area so I set out early for the tube..  My heart went out to the commuters having to endure that cattle market every day.  Crammed in like sardines in the hundreds, the smell of cigarettes, perfume, aftershave, sweat I’d never been so close to a bunch of strangers!! The silence is deafening: so many people so little noise.  Only the sound of footsteps; waiting on the lift to get back up to fresh air there must have been at least 50 of us huddled waiting for the door to open when a lovely lady from Trinidad shouted from the back in her cheeriest accent “Good morning everyone” no response, only 1 young girl looked up from her phone, she made eye contact with me which is a no-no and cracked a smile.  Finally we cracked the code & broke the sound of the underground!

Rosewood London, what a place. Built in 1914, hidden from the hussle and bussle of the busy streets through an archway you enter into a grand courtyard.  I didn’t have a clue what door to go through, I was looking for the Grand Ballroom. One of the chauffeurs saw the confusion / panic in my face, took pity and started chatting.  Turns out he was from Scotland too; Dundee with only a few years until he retired I found out he chauffeured all his days. He managed to pin down one of the concierge who directed me to the ballroom, I thanked Tom / Tam if your from Scotland and made my way in.

Greeted by a softly spoken lady, dressed in a gorgeous black full length lace dress, I was passed through security and given my Access All Area’s band I was directed down the beautiful winding staircase to the ballroom.  The sound check and lighting was being rehearsed and the soundtrack for the show was Dorris Day – Perfect!

Girls were in makeup when I arrived, we were briefed and put to an outfit, my outfit was a beautiful pink shimmer high neck mini dress with cap sleeves, nude bodysuit, feather bag with strap to be wrapped round the left wrist and hung in a certain way, this was important so the all the bags were carried the same. People who had dressed before were put to the trickier outfits.

I met Millie a beautiful girl with a warm smile, we chatted for a bit, she’d done a few shows already so new the set up. I felt lucky some dressers just stood around whilst there models were on their phones. Then it was time.

I put Millie’s shoes on carefully as the leather was  fine & delicate and we had been warned about this beforehand and we were ready for the walk through. We got to see this on the screen just outside the dressing area so we had an idea of what was going on.

Back to hair the girls went, I did go down and watch as a trained hair dresser I was fascinated.

One by one the girls came back and were dressed, I patiently waited on Millie she had beautiful hair and a lot of it. Eventually she came bouncing through the door full of life and adrenaline.

She got dressed, there was a panicked silence in the room, lots of rushing and helping others. Millie’s was ready quickly so I helped other dressers with shoes and making sure the feathered drawstring bags were positioned correctly even helping one model with one of my blister plasters!

It was onto photos, every girl had their photo taken individually back stage then made there way to the the line up where hair & make up we’re doing there final touch ups.

The music started and the stylists quickly made one last check on the girls then it was time. One by one the disappeared through the curtain to the eagerly awaiting audience.   We huddled round the small screen watching the girls do their thing!  Eyes focused on the end of the runway as they made their way one by one, the collection was stunning, Camera’s flashing, phones filming every detail and just like that it was the finale with cheers from crowd, it was another successful collection from Huishan Zhang.  As the girls came back to the dressing room full of cheers and applause , it was  a quick change for them back into comfy clothing, make up off and racing on to the next show.

As the guests made there way out into the courtyard full of excitement, chatting of fabrics, who was there, who sat where. They finally parted ways air kissing their goodbyes as they made there way to the Bentleys and Mercedes waiting to take them to the next show.  I stood for a few minutes just to take it all in, my eye caught the chauffeur I was chatting to on the way in. “Well, he asked, how did you get on?”.  My face said it all.  “Maybe the next time we meet, I will be on the other side sitting front row being chauffeured around”.  We both laughed said our goodbyes as I stepped out of the archway back in to the real world I looked back, smiled, my heart still racing…………..did that just happen ?


Marlene x

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