The Fashion Week Diaries

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London Fashion Week is only nine days away. As the countdown begins, we asked four of the industry’s biggest names to share their diaries from last September’s shows.

Read on for Make-up genius Val Garland, designer Roberto Cavalli, Harrods buyer Helen David and model Lara Mullen's diaries at London, New York, Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks, giving unprecedented access behind the scenes…

New York

Helen David, Harrods

In her role as Harrods’ Womenswear General Merchandise Manager, Helen David travels the world on buying trips. Working for one of the best department stores in the world means that she has high profile designer’s clambering to show her their collections at every appointment. She writes orders for looks from the shows, from private appointments and from salon style presentations, all of which will be ready on the rails of Harrods just a few months later.


I always stay at The Carlyle - a timeless old school hotel with amazing service. Day 5 of NYFW starts with eggs royale while I answered emails and caught up with the Herald Tribune fashion reviews (a daily must), then it is straight into a busy day of shows and appointments. During fashion weeks, my diary is completely packed but I love the variety that each day offers.

Michael Kors Show

The first show of the day is Michael Kors, who treated us to his sleek polished vision of the 60s style girl with bold stripes, geometric prints and primary block colours. Monochrome shift dresses were belted at the waist and cigarette pants cropped at the ankle were worn with buttoned short-sleeve blouses. The finale black maxi-dresses with their cut-away panels provided an injection of signature Kors glamour, and made me want to go back on vacation and get a suntan. The front row attracted almost as much attention as the clothes with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Marisa Tomei and Camille Belle all in attendance.

Oscar de la Renta Walk Thru

Following Oscar de la Renta’s stunning show last night, we went for one of my favourite NY appointments. We are just about to build a brand new Oscar shop at Harrods with double the space, so getting this buy right is a must! Watching a show before we place our orders in the showroom later gives us time to consider the dominant trends, think about what our customer’s will want and plan our buy. The SS13 collection retains the classic Oscar style that we love him for but there were a lot of fun additions this season and a lot of pink which our customers love!


Time for a quick lunch stop at one of my two favourite burger joints in NY, PJ Clarkes. Nothing beats a medium rare cheeseburger with fries when you need a midday energy boost to carry you right through to a 9pm dinner.

J Mendel Show

This is me on my way to the J Mendel show wearing one my favorite Alaia dresses. This collection was absolutely stunning. Gilles always produces one of my favourite shows of the season, but his perfect interpretation of the pastel trends and beautifully designed dresses was spot on. I will definitely be saving up for something from this collection.

Milly By Michelle Smith Show

This is Michelle’s daughter – part of the young fashion generation – already coordinating outfits at 5! There was a sporty edge to the show with body-con styles featuring pops of neon which were cool whilst maintaining an air of femininity and amongst the mini-skirts the show ended with some fun eveningwear.

Phillip Lim Walk Thru

Next we headed over to the Phillip Lim showroom to see up close the ‘cut up’ collection that features many pieces that incorporate a patchwork quilt style. The edgy collection of flower prints, leathers and appliqués gives it a chic yet chaotic appeal. This New York City floral tee is a definite must buy for our Designer Studio.

Alexander Wang Walk Thru

Another walk thru, this time at Alexander Wang. Here I have to resist shopping for myself. The SS13 collection did not disappoint mixing leather pieces with heavy cottons. Simple silhouettes retained hints of his signature sporty luxe style throughout with details such as exposed zips and seams, voluminous sweater shapes, backless styles and cut-outs everywhere.

Victoria Beckham Walk Thru

Victoria Beckham is always a favourite for us. On Sunday, the grand setting of the New York Public Library showcased a new direction for the line with some very wearable super sexy styles but with the addition of a lot of edgier tailoring.


Val Garland, international make up artist

With star clients such as Lady Gaga and Björk, the revered make-up artist shares her view from Fashion Week:

“I get up at 5:30am and eat a microwave pot of M&S porridge in a taxi on the way to the Kinder Aggugini show. This helps to keep me going all morning and I won’t pick at the backstage food.

ABOVE: Wake Up, power porridge breakfast and shower with This Works

Showtime is 10am but I arrive at 7am to set up my kit and brief my team on how to use the new L’Oréal Paris products I’m debuting backstage. This is where the products are rigorously put through their paces. If it smudges or smears then it doesn’t make the cut.

ABOVE: My own make-up collection, and my walkie-talkie

My team always uses walkie-talkies to communicate with each other at shows – there’s no screaming across the room on my watch

BELOW: My table at Kinder Aggugini, and catching up with the lovely Stephen Jones

ABOVE: The Kinder Girl gets her freck on

At Jasper and Vivienne

To check hair and make-up are working with the clothes we do a run-through. Today, at Jasper Conran, this happens 10 minutes before the show. The light isn’t hitting the models’ faces in the right way; it’s casting a shadow and putting their make-up into darkness, so the lights are adjusted to create a more flattering light.

BELOW: Jasper Girl is a Sun kissed hipster

BELOW: Time for a quick touch up Mani, before travelling on to the Issa show

As one show finishes, it’s on to the next – some days I do as many as five a day.

ABOVE: The Issa woman is 70”s Valley of the Dolls inspired

BELOW: Arrive at Vivienne Westwood fitting in Conduit Street - inspiration for show is Warhol Royale

At 9pm I meet Vivienne Westwood (wearing my lucky suit, which she gave me) to confirm what she wants for her show the next day. She talks a lot about royalty and wants the hair to feel very much like the Queen’s so I try to incorporate that into the make-up. I don’t leave until 1am. Then it’s straight to bed.”



Italian fashion maestro designer Roberto Cavalli is a household name the world over. His collections are sold in department stores and boutiques around the world and his jaw-dropping red-carpet creations are worn by some of the most talented actresses in Hollywood. As he and his team prepared to show the Just Cavalli spring/summer ‘13 collection in Milan followed by a raucous after-party in true Cavalli style, we asked Roberto to document 24 hours in his world.

“At 7am, I look through the Just Cavalli show sketches as well as the collection. I then go to the studio to oversee any finishing touches before going through the casting for the show and doing the fittings. Everything needs to be perfect.

ABOVE AND BELOW: Looking through the Just Cavalli SS13 show sketches, and in the studio to oversee finishing touches to the collection.

I finalise casting, accessories and jewellery. I also take some time to study an amazing handmade sweater – I love it and it’s one of my favourite pieces in the show.

ABOVE: Going through the casting for the show

Once all of these tasks are completed, I have a much-needed espresso, rush home to get changed (taking a quick look at the view out of my window and saying a quick bye to my much-loved parrot) and then I head to the palatial show venue on Arco della Pace.

BELOW: My parrot

BELOW: I arrive at the palatial show venue on Arco della Pace

Meeting the press

I have pre-show interviews with the world’s press before show-time at 11.30am. I watch backstage as the first model takes to the runway. Happily, Solange Knowles and Azealia Banks [who are on the front row] are captivated by the collection.

The After Party

Azealia Banks performs in front of an excited audience wearing a dress straight from the new Just Cavalli collection. The party carries on late into the night…”


Lara Mullen, Model

Hailing from Northamptonshire, British model Lara Mullen was scouted at a music festival by Premier just 2 weeks before the SS12 shows. Her first show was walking for Alexander Wang followed by a highly coveted Prada exclusive and appearances at Jonathan Saunders, Christopher Kane, Givenchy, Chloe and Celine. Despite being a relative newcomer Lara has already walked for Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior and Louis Vuitton and worked with the likes of Mert & Marcus, Peter Lindbergh, Craig McDean, David Sims, Willy Vanderperre and Patrick Demarchelier. Lara has appeared in campaigns for Topshop, Maje, Coach and Adidas SLVR.

"I normally stay in the Citadines near Point-Neuf, a lot of the other girls stay there and it’s very central to where most of the show venues are. They are basically one bedroom self-service apartments- very cosy and they are all over Paris. There is an amazing dress store next door called “Mac Chaul”, which I pass every morning before I set out for my day.

ABOVE: Paris Fashion Week calls for French clothing! I'm wearing my new Vanessa Bruno sweater and Kenzo skater skirt. The magnificent view of the Seine backstage at the Galliano show. So much luggage checking into/out of the hotel. This lot has followed me from New York, London and Paris!

Early call

It’s a really busy day during Paris Fashion Week. I normally wake up depending on my call times (which can be as early as 5am) Today I woke up at 7am. I don’t normally have time for breakfast so I usually grab something backstage while I am in hair and make-up like a juice and a yoghurt. The food backstage varies from show to show, but usually consists of salad pots and fresh fruit which are great to grab as I am on the go the whole time in between castings, fittings and shows.

ABOVE: Emergency charging...I can't function without my blackberry so I charge it at almost every possible opportunity to stay connected. The Dries Van Noten casting, a great place to catch up and have a chat with the other girls. An apple a day keeps the doctor away- the perfect snack for running between castings.

It’s great to catch up with my model friends like Andi Arthur, Kaitlin Aas and Nadja Bender and have good gossip. Fashion weeks are very much like school reunions for me! The castings can be quite long and sometimes I can be waiting up to 4 hours at a time, so it’s always great to have company.

ABOVE: Model Transportation-the Metro is the fastest way to travel during the Paris shows. More makeup! These are currently some of my favourite backstage products I have discovered this season - they make skin look amazing!


Hair and makeup for the Galliano show took almost 3 hours, but time flies as I was chatting to the lovely Julia Frauche and Ros Georgiou (time always flies past with those two) while taking in the amazing views of the river. The wonderful Pat McGrath and her team were behind the make-up.

ABOVE: Lara walks at Galliano

It’s my very first time walking for Galliano and I love the colours, and the fluidity of my outfit….the shoes were particularly beautiful. I loved the ambiance backstage - everyone is in one space and you get a real adrenaline rush as soon as you step out on the runway (I often forget to breathe). After Galliano it's onto more castings.

ABOVE: Hair extension glue at Ann Demeulemeester. It's my mum's birthday, so I just have to stop and pick up some Laduree macaroons!

I don’t have any shows for the rest of the day, but have a few more castings. Paris is starting to grow on me. I always stay in the same place so I am getting to know my area well. I like catching up with my French chaperone Julie and if we have time we go to the cinema.

Late Supper

I head out with my agents from Premier. We eat at a lovely bistro in Le Marais called Les Bonnes Soeurs which is like dining in an old convent. I have poached salmon and a green salad. Then back to the apartment and bed.”

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