A Ticketless Fashion Week Experience
September is known as ‘Fashion Month’, with New York, London, Milan and Paris all playing host to their bi-annual fashion week events. For four weeks across four cities, editors, designers, celebrities and stylists are all out in force, looking for the next major trends. But while they attract international attention for their glamour and exclusivity, fashion weeks aren’t purely limited to insiders. Although many of the events and shows are reserved for the industry – there are still plenty of ways for everyday fashion fans to get involved with the excitement. Our exclusive guide will show you how.
Emily Norval is a London-based journalist covering a range of topics including fashion, retail, travel and lifestyle. She has written for both national and international publications and enjoys frequent travel as part of her work.
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New York: September 8th to 15th
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The first of the four major fashion weeks, New York hosts designers such as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Vera Wang. Although the key designers at New York Fashion week only allow access to the industry, events such as the Fashion Umbrella Foundation are open to the public. The Foundation will showcase the collections of five debut designers (September 9th) and tickets, including front row seating, are on sale.
Fashion week is hugely influential generally in the city, so plenty of stores offer special discounts or promotions during the event. For the best of the Big Apple’s fashion experience, book tickets for the Windows Wear tour. The two-hour walking tour showcases the city’s fashion credentials via it’s finest window displays, from Barneys to Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. Most are guaranteed to have particularly special window displays during Fashion Week and the tour is a great way to get to know the shopping districts.
New York is also home to some of the world’s best fashion museums, such as the Costume Institute at The Met. During Fashion Week 2016, it would be well worth visiting the museum at FIT (New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology) to see Uniformity, exploring the history of uniform and their influence on fashion and vice versa (open until November 2016).
London: September 16th to 20th
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London Fashion Week takes place directly after New York – hence what is known as ‘fashion week exhaustion’ to industry insiders by the time the last shows have taken place in Paris. Generally, London is known for its sense of rebellious creativity – attracting a young and trendy crowd. Perhaps because of this, it is one of the most inclusive of the international fashion weeks when it comes to the public, with particular efforts made across the city to host accessible events.
The best-known of these is London Fashion Weekend, held at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, where tickets are available to the public. As well as shopping opportunities (around 150 designer collections are curated by the gallery, many of which with exclusive discounts) there are Q&As with fashion insiders and beauty brands offering styling tips. What particularly stands out about the event is that designers who are showcasing at London Fashion Week also showcase their collections to the public at the gallery. For Spring/Summer 2017, these include London favourites Preen and Sibling.
Screens are also set up in the city to live-stream fashion week shows to the general public. At LFW’s home in Brewer Street Car Park, screens and seating are positioned nearby for fashion fans without tickets. The International Fashion Showcase is also open to the public, presenting up and coming designers, while the Fashion Space Gallery in central London often showcases student and graduate collections to the public during fashion week.
High street stores will also often host events and promotions – particularly around Oxford Street – and as in New York, key stores such as Selfridges, Harrods and Liberty are likely to come up with stunning window displays. While perusing the city, it’s always worth a visit to the V&A Museum during fashion week for some inspiration. ‘Undressed’ is the key exhibition in September, with an exploration of the history of fashion in underwear.
Milan: September 21st to 27th
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Gucci, Fendi, Prada, Dolce and Gabbana and Moschino are just some of the fashion houses that present their collections at Milan Fashion Week. As the city perhaps best known for it’s over-the-top style, people-watching is one of the most popular public pastimes during the week itself.
Although Milan Fashion Week is fairly exclusive when it comes to its events, fashion is in the city’s soul. Visitors without tickets to the shows can still enjoy an outstanding array of designer shops and fashion-inspired bars, restaurants and even hotels. The Marc Jacobs café is always a popular choice among the industry crowd, as well as the Armani Cafe or Nobu (located within the Emporio Armani store). Bar Luce at the Fondazione Prada was designed by film director Wes Anderson and is another well-known hot spot for fashion insiders. Editors, stylists and celebrities can often be found hanging out at the Bulgari Hotel Milan and the Armani hotel in between shows and parties, holding court over an aperitivo at one of the bars.
Paris: September 27th to October 5th
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Paris is perhaps the chicest of the fashion weeks, with its long-standing history of elegant couture. From Dior to Chanel and Louis Vuitton, the biggest names in Paris are among the most internationally-recognised. As with Milan, it is harder to access most of the major designer shows as Paris tends to be very exclusive. However, you can still feel close to the action by taking one of the many fashion tours on offer in the city, such as the two-hour walking tour In Coco Chanel’s Footsteps. There is also a history of Paris fashion tour for those with broader interests. Paris Shopping Tours are another opportunity to feel like an industry insider, with private drivers and personal stylists.
After a busy day touring the fashion districts, settle in for a cocktail at one of the city’s most fashionable hotels, Les Bains, which is well-known for hosting designer after-parties as well as being a central hotspot for the fashion crowd. Or, enjoy a glass of champagne at the Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg, a popular spot for editors and designers to relax between shows.