Sadly my fashion retail job prevented me from attending many of the shows I was invited to on behalf of AnyWearStyle for London Fashion Week (LFW) but I did make it to the Taiwanese designer Apu Jan’s at the Free Masons’ Hall in Covent Garden. When I heard about the venue I immediately thought of the Simpsons episode when Homer joins the Stone Cutters, especially the scene with the members singing in their KKK-style robes. In some ways I suppose the fashion circle in its own way is also a mysterious, self-serving circle to some. This was somewhat confirmed when I arrived to find a number of my retail colleagues clutching their invites; apparently one of them store has been in a relationship with Apu Jan for eight years!
It was cold out, so I had opted for my flying bomber jacket given to me by my father as a child and simple black jeans. I liked to think I was going for a confident casual look. I overheard a glamorous girl in a dress and trench out being admired by her friends for braving the cold. She leaned into their circle giggling, “My trench has a cashmere warmer and I have leggings in my handbag!” There were, of course, some much bolder outfits which the cameras enjoyed capturing but nothing farcical as I had anticipated. It was interesting to note how at Shanghai Fashion Week (the only other fashion week I have been present at) attendees opt for glamour and bling, in contrast to London where fashion devotees prefer to appear trendy and fashion-forward.
My ‘plus one’ was my godmother, Catherine, the one who had taken me to the pearl exhibition at the V&A. Stepping out of her taxi, it was Sunday after all and taking the tube would have been too much work, Catherine was her classically chic self in a block turquoise tunic and immaculate jewels. Both she and the show were (suitably) fashionably late.
Flashing my press ticket at the gate keepers with clipboards and going straight in made me feel cool as it was but when I was allowed to skip the queue inside I felt downright smug. Initially Catherine and I could only find second row seats, being short of stature it appeared I wasn’t going to see much of the show. Emboldened by my press ticket I asked one of the ushers politely if there was room further forward, to my surprise she shuffled members of the front row closer together and beckoned Catherine and me over. Even Catherine, who is not one to shy from bold requests, was impressed at the success of pulling my weight.
I won’t review Apu Jan’s clothes here as my post on AWS details this (see the link in the comments). Instead, I will reveal what surrounded the show. Firstly, there was the goody bag, the contents of which included a tea tree face mask and ‘Colour Crush’ lipstick from the Body Shop, popcorn from Proper Love, Vita Coco coconut water, and dry shampoo as well as Shine Mist from Label. M. However, the gem in my black tote was a USB stick of the music by the musicians who had performed live at the show.
What I expected least from Apu’s show was the friendly vibe. From what I could tell much of the audience was made up of the friends and family of Apu and his print designer Ying Wu. At the shows end, family and friends photos were set up and conversation hummed with pride for the designers’ achievements which had just graced the catwalk. An enduring image is that of an infant scoffing the popcorn from the goody bag throughout the show.
I too had my bonding with Catherine over fashion. Once I had finished interviewing Apu, Catherine whisked us both to Selfridges in a taxi (I wanted to spend a Christmas voucher on make-up) for a coffee and catch-up. Those rare times we take to talk about our desires and hopes in depth are so cathartic and deepen bonds. There was a brief spare moment for us to peruse the beauty counters before Catherine had to dash to meet her yoga instructor which then gave me the opportunity to agonise over how I could best spend my vouchers. In the end I settled on a nude MAC crèmesheen lipglass and Nars eye paint.
Fashion, to me is not merely what we wear, but a means to communicate and bond with one another.