I’d been looking forward to this year’s St. Albans Fashion Week since I saw the Cathedral Catwalk show last year. And for those that don’t know me and who have escaped my constant SAFW chatter over the last 12 months (lucky you) it was my absolute mission to be a model at the Cathedral this time round.
When I auditioned I was so nervous that my face actually trembled. It was a very odd feeling and one that I’d not experienced before, not even when I auditioned for X-Factor some 7 or so years ago! But I guess that’s what happens when you want something so bad. Luckily they saw past my wobbly face and put me through.
There was a catwalk rehearsal held a week before the event that all models had to attend. We all gathered at SAFW HQ (previously a Millets but glammed up with beautiful furniture from Maison Hartley) where we were taught how to walk the walk and how to make that killer pose at the end of the catwalk. The lesson was provided by founder/director of SAFW, Ellie Ophira, who explained how everything was timed to perfection. Each model would be ‘released’ onto the catwalk every set amount of seconds. Walk too fast and you’ll create a gap in the flow of models, walk too slow and you’re going to cause a bottle neck at the end. And not being quick enough with your outfit changes backstage and you’re going to throw everything out of whack - which reminds me of how I giggled like a schoolgirl when the boys were instructed to wear tight boxers so that everything stayed where it should! Anyway, the atmosphere at the rehearsal was, for me, reminiscent of my local theatre am-dram days and it felt great to be part of a big production again.
However, nothing could have prepared me for the stunning, bright-white 30 metre catwalk in the beautifully grand and cavernous, majestic Cathedral that greeted me on Friday - nowt amateur about this event or location. It really was out of this world. I know I was at the show last year, but not in the capacity of a model and not at 9am in the morning when the belly of the Cathedral was empty and technicians were crawling along the high metal framework above the catwalk fixing up the lights and electrics for the show.
All the models were shown to the ‘crypt’ which is where we could relax between rehearsals, eat lunch, drink tea and chat. For many of the models, who had been in the other catwalk shows together earlier in the week, it was a chance to catch up and do it all again! The models ranged from 16 to what I would estimate as late 40’s (if any of you were in your 50’s and beyond then by golly, well done you – you look fabulous dahlings!). To my amusement, it was pointed out by a fellow model that there was a definite ‘visual’ age divide which, was not decided by how people looked, but how they sat. Many of the young teen and twenty something’s formed a ‘hippy circle’ sitting on the floor whereas the older ones formed a ‘not so hip’ (looking after their hips), sitting on chairs, circle! I was on a chair in case you were wondering!
In my head, I had run through how I would manage the quick changes but I am so thankful for the dress rehearsal. It highlighted that knowing which shoes had to be with which outfit is not the same as them being with the right outfit at the right time! And mentally being aware that there will be up to 10 models crowding round one clothes rail getting changed is not the same as being one of the 10 models doing just that!
After a successful rehearsal (though I have to admit I hadn’t quite got used to scuttling from one retailers rail to another wearing just a bra and thong with my bum cheeks on display) it was time for hair and make-up. I think this was the craziest thing about the whole day. Take one already bustling room full of models, add 4 hairdressing teams, 2 barber teams, a throng of freelance make-up artists, a dance troupe (desperately seeking rehearsal space) and you have what looks like a human version of a beehive – constantly moving, busy, busy bees!
Here are some pictures I took backstage. Wow!
You see, exciting is changing into some amazing clothes and heading into the city with your friends. Scary is changing into some amazing clothes, walking up and down a 30 metre catwalk without your friends and being watched by, what feels like, an entire city! Suffice to say, I thought I was going to be sick. And I mean proper sick and faint. That’s how anxious I was. Given that I frequently sing with a band in front of audiences (not as large as 800 people admittedly), I honestly wasn’t expecting to feel this stressed. Before I went on I had visions of collapsing on the catwalk and hoping that they would just nonchalantly scoop me off the side and let the show continue so I wouldn’t be held responsible for bringing the finale of SAFW14 to an untimely end.
Anyway, what d’ya know? I didn’t faint. I wasn’t sick. And I L.O.V.E.D it!!
Heading out onto that catwalk, with loud music pumping and an excited and animated audience watching on, was nothing short of AMAZING. Every time I stepped out in a different outfit, I felt on top of the world and just as Ellie Ophira had visualised - I lost myself in the Fairytale of Fashion.
Oh and before you go, take a few minutes to watch this wonderful film created by Movies by Mischke - it captures the day perfectly.
I'll be back with another post very soon.