It's the hottest ticket in the UK fashion calendar, but is it really as fun and glamorous as it looks? We chatted with Brit model Sarah Ann Macklin to find out what a day in the life of a London Fashion Week model is really like...
One month to go
‘I train with Russell Bateman (who also works with Edie Campbell and Poppy Delevingne) throughout the year, it’s all about metabolic training so i’m in peak condition at all times (think weight-lifting and high-impact exercises with short breaks in-between to increase metabolic rate).
‘I’m a big fan of supplements and vitamins and take them religiously, plus I’ll have a juice with every single meal to ensure my body’s getting everything it needs beforehand.
‘Some models tend to just do a lot of body prep and dieting last-minute with fashion week – it’s not uncommon to see girls passing out from lack of food, but it’s just so full-on that you have to be on top of it to get through it.’
One week to go
‘I always take a few days off before everything starts to ensure I’m as fit, healthy and relaxed as I can be, and I tend to go back to my parents’ house so I can really switch-off. Plus, there’s places like Show Space which offer free treatments like massages and eyebrow threading for models and the media in the lead up to fashion week, which really gets you prepared.’
Three days to go
‘Castings are literally only a few days before the shows, it’s very last minute, so you can be going to castings for London Fashion Week whilst New York is still on – it’s exhausting. A model can expect to have between 20 and 25 castings a day, and if they like you they’ll ring up your agent and you’ll be whisked into a fitting before the show. They like to see you as a blank canvas, so I’ll wear skinny jeans, a white t-shirt and I’ll go bare-faced.’
On the day:
‘I’ll take a night flight from New York as soon as my last NYFW show ends and have a driver pick me up from Heathrow. I carry a massive bag with me at all times, crammed with food and my iPad, because you never know when you’ll have time to eat.’
‘Girls fly between shows on the back of Addison Lee motorbikes, you’ll just see them suddenly appear five minutes before they’re due on the catwalk out of nowhere with a helmet. Backstage the vibe is hectic with people – including hairdressers, make-up artists and stylists – all trying to do their jobs at once. You have to survive on the adrenaline.’
‘Between shows I want to be as comfy and warm as possible. I’ll wear trackies, a hoodie and a pair of Nikes.
‘I can have up to four shows a day, but that’s combined with fittings and castings, so it’s very fast-paced all day every day.’
‘Although you genuinely have to just eat when you can, there’s always amazing spreads backstage, including sandwiches, soups and quinoa. The designers always get caterers in and really look after us.
‘Changes can happen extremely last minute. Once I was next in the line-up to go out on the catwalk and was asked to change my shoes. We had no idea if they’d fit, whether I’d be able to walk in them, nothing. It’s terrifying, but you just have to go with it and hope for the best. Another time, for John Rocha, my dress was about two foot too long, I just had to kick it as I walked so that I didn’t fall over in front of the paps.’
‘My parents and my agency are both really good at checking in with me and making sure I’m ok. My mum will text me the whole way throughout fashion week to make sure i’m ok and not overdoing it and i’ll normally ring her at some point during the day to let her know i’m fine. My agency are the same, they’ll see you and it’s ‘Are you ok? Have you eaten? Do you need anything?’ Then they’ll whisk you away for one of their infamous platters.’
‘Although the atmosphere backstage is utterly manic, most of the girls you’re walking the show with are your friends, so there’s a really good girlie vibe. We look out for each other and it’s nice to have that support network.’
‘You’ll only have one fitting before each show, but sometimes they can run on til 3am in the morning. As a model you become totally immune to any weird styling tricks or tips, you just zone out from it. If someone tells you to get totally naked or put something on your head, you just do it, you don’t question anything.’
‘The first thing i’ll do once the day is finished is curl up in the car and start rifling around in my bag for food – there’s just no time to eat.’
‘My driver normally drops me home at about 11pm and i’ll head straight to bed, it’s rare that I’ll get out to any parties. You’re knackered and need as much sleep as you can before the next full day ahead, and I’ve known agents to only have three hours sleep and crash in their offices during fashion week.
‘But during Men’s Collections? I go to them all.’
One day later
‘You keep going for as long as you can during fashion month. Sometimes you run out of steam after London, other times you’ll push yourself through to Paris and Milan. Because it’s all so last minute you can just decide what shows to do as you go.
‘Once I’ve finished for the season I’ll head home to my parents to do exactly what I did before all the chaos started – relax.
‘The adrenaline is definitely the best and worst thing about fashion week. I love looking through all the photos and videos and it’s like ‘That’s me, wearing something from one of the biggest designers and no-one’s ever worn it before. It’s amazing’.
‘My favourite show ever was Vivienne Westwood – it’s like putting on a theatre show. You’ve got hair extensions right down to your waist and the whole thing is just so elaborate and theatrical, it’s a lot of fun.’
Keep checking Marie Claire for all the latest London Fashion Week news, but for now, here’s the latest from New York Fashion Week…