Fashionista Day In London !

August 14th, 2011

Last week retailers across the UK flocked to London for the UK’s leading fashion buying event, Pure Fashion at Olympia Earls Court. My friend Hazel and I had freebie tickets, courtesy of our daughters who were slaving behind the scenes on a four day work experience placement. We were really looking forward to it . . . until we got there.

Laid out before us were over 1,000 brands of contemporary womenswear, boutique showcases, stylish evening and occasionwear, handcrafted jewels, bespoke hats and some of the most elegant and stylish footwear I’ve ever seen. I was gripped with stomach churning excitement. My credit card was ON FIRE, it was literally seeping radiation. The Olympia Exhibition Centre had been transformed into a glittering textile mirage. My kind of place !

‘Amazing,’ Hazel said, digging in her handbag for her facial mist.

I grabbed her elbow and weaved past a party of slow walkers in front of us.

 ‘Isn’t it remarkable how rails and rails of magnificent fabrics can fill you with such emotion?’ I said.

A nymphy model wearing a tiny gold silk bikini top, and Arabian pantaloons over slim hips walked past us balancing three coffees in a shaky triangle.

‘I love that look,’ Hazel said pointing rudely.  

I imagined myself wearing the pantaloons, although I altered this visualization slightly by morphing myself to a size eight, and putting an extra six inches on my legs. I have to say, they suited me.

Hazel and I were wearing heels, but cleverly had flip flops in our handbags.

‘Let’s put our flip flops on and get marching. Don’t buy a single thing until we’ve seen everything. It makes sense to visit all 1,000 stalls, to get a feel for the place.’ I told her.

She was already ripping at her sling back stilettos, flushed with radiance.

‘Absolutely,’ she agreed.

So that’s what we did, we hiked around the entire arena. It took four hours. And we felt great, we felt tired, disheveled, happy exhausted. We felt as though we’d been mountaineering. Hazel’s foundation was blotchy and her forehead was pink, she looked suntanned, she looked as though she’d been on a Fat Camp Orientering Course.  I flipped open my hand mirror. I looked exactly the same.  

‘I know what I want to buy,’ Hazel said in a rush.

‘So do I.’

We both had our eye on the same jacket. But that was fine, because it came in eleven different shades. We stood side by side and admired ourselves in the mirror. The calf length rushed silk jackets with motif silk lining were only THIRTY SEVEN POUNDS . . .  I know! I know! Bargain of the century, we couldn’t believe it. Why hadn’t we thought to go to a Fashion Exhibition before? This jacket would’ve cost four times the price in any boutique I’ve ever been in.

‘I’ll have it,’ I told the salesman handing him the jacket.

 ‘At that price we might as well buy two each,’ Hazel quite rightly said.

The salesman took his pen from behind his ear.

‘So you want four hundred each?’ he asked.

Four hundred? Was he mad? OK, it was a nice jacket, but who on earth would want two hundred identical jackets. Not even my sister who’s famed for multiple purchasing would go that far. I wondered if he’d been drinking.

I tried not to appear condescending.

‘No, two each, so four in total,’ I said over slowly.

The minimum order was 50 garments, he explained politely. Only retailers could purchase, he informed us. Every Exhibitor at the event was a wholesaler, he added. He wouldn’t sell to us. Not even for a bribe. I tried.  I would have offered him anything, I would  have offered him Hazel for that jacket.  I wanted it so badly.

My hand flew to my forehead, my shoulders slumped and my jaw dropped. Hazel was big eyed and bewildered, she looked like a bit part actress in a silent movie, ( the one tied to the railway line). She couldn’t find words. Neither could I. We had run a flip flop marathon for nothing. I felt deflated, depressed and murderous. What was the point of going to an Exhibition if you couldn’t buy anything? Why were we there? My feet were suddenly killing me.

We hit the bar, mourning the missed bargains, what else could we do.  By six o’clock Hazel had a swizzle stick behind each ear, and I had a collection of cocktail umbrellas in my cleavage. And for our own safety the barmen had stopped putting sparklers in our pitchers of margarita. So at least we finished the day on a high. Hazel and I are survivors.

 If you want a day out, where you’re plunged into a forced economy drive, then I would highly recommend it. You won’t spend a penny, simply by virtue of the fact that no one wants your money. On the plus side, the Catwalk Shows are amazing. The girls are gorgeous and the atmosphere is electric. The only downside is that you go home empty handed.

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Posted in: From the Author by Molly Hopkins on August 14th, 2011

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