Meet the hidden women behind London Fashion Week

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  • Here's how fashion week actually happens...

    Another London fashion week is officially here, seeing bad traffic, excellent celebrity spotting and a lot of well-dressed people frequent the city.

    Burberry, Victoria Beckham, Christopher Kane and Roksanda are set to highlight the weekend, with some very famous faces expected to walk the runway.

    But it’s not just models, designers and influencers that make London fashion week. What about the hidden women that are actually making it happen?

    From fashion illustrators and street style photographers to backstage managers, DJs and make up artists, we spoke to the women behind LFW last year to find out what really goes on…

    Jessica Bird

    Job title: Fashion Illustrator

    What my job entails at fashion week: Lots and lots of drawing. Capturing backstage activity and key looks from shows, live drawing, interpreting the collections from 3D to 2D essentially.

    Last LFW I was… In residency each evening at the London EDITION hotel drawing guests and LFW goers, capturing their looks in 15 minute pastel portraits. I’m back this year so come find me.

    What I wear on the job at LFW: I feel like my wardrobe has started to reflect my work – I play with colour a lot as I do in my illustrations, my wardrobe is very bright, quite fun, lots of fluorescent colours. At LFW I like to wear a few of my favourite pieces from Roksanda – with my trusty artists apron over the top of course!

    Three essentials in my LFW bag: Pastels, sketchpad and paint markers.

    My most stressful part of fashion week: Trying to keep up with all the shows, there’s just so many looks I want to capture!

    My most exciting fashion week experience: Being asked to cover LFW for Showstudio for sure. It’d been a dream of mine since I started illustrating so I was very grateful to have been asked!

    Fashion week work snack: Popcorn!

    Top LFW tip: COFFEE!

    Samantha Qureshi

    Job title: NARS UK Senior Makeup Artist

    What my job entails at fashion week: As a makeup artist ambassador for NARS, my job behind the scenes entails various missions: assisting the lead makeup artists backstage is one of those, making sure my hands become the extension of their creative vision without a fail and I am also in charge of doing VIP makeup sessions during Fashion Weeks seasons.

    Last LFW I was… Part of the most beautiful shows from New York to London so far. Rodarte was a dream and the exquisite pop art inspired makeup by James Kaliardos and beautiful flowery hair composition by Odile Gilbert, was part of one of the most inspirational moments of my career. I had the privilege to assist Lucia Pieroni during her makeup test at Christopher Kane’s studio in London, I loved to see how she creates and works the skin and how she really connects with Christopher Kane’s vision of beauty. All the shows always feel really special to me. As a creative person I feed my artistry juice with all the artists surrounding me, fashion designers, makeup artists, hairdressers, nail technicians, models are a huge part of my artistry growth.

    What I wear on the job at LFW: All black, neutral and chic, comfortable clothes. Backstage, it’s always speed, you have to be ready to run, be on your knees, and be 100% effective and dynamic. I keep my makeup very glowy and lightweight with a lot of NARS Skincare. Our new Climax Mascara and the Radiant Creamy concealers are my bests products to wear when working on shows.. Orgasm lip balm this season and go!

    Three essentials in my LFW bag: I make sure all my NARS skincare set is ready – radiant Creamy can do it all without fail, and my precious brushes which I never live without.

    My most stressful part of fashion week: Time keeping, sometimes we have to wait for a while for the models to come from other shows, and when they arrive, hair, nails, and makeup teams become one big team making sure in the last minutes before the line-up, every model looks fabulous and ready to go on the catwalk.

    My weirdest fashion week experience: The day we used just a concealer on a show was not the most satisfying feeling being a makeup artist. It also shows how being an artist is so subjective and I appreciated the reflection and inspiration behind it… but my brushes stayed clean!

    Fashion week work snack: In my bag I always carry a protein and cereal bar, a banana and plenty of water. (Take away coffee isn’t an option…)

    Top LFW tip: No coffee on an eyeliner/bold lips look day. Unless you have a really steady hand… Lucky you!

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    Yossy Akinsanya

    Job title: Street style photographer

    What my job entails at fashion week: I take to the main venues being used for shows and have captured every kind of outfit you can think of, from designer to conceptual to on-trend.

    Last LFW I was… Running from venue to venue trying to find the most interesting and eye-stopping outfits out there. I’ve lost count of exactly how many people’s Instagrams I’ve asked for after taking their picture.

    What I wear on the job at LFW: As it’s fashion week I do try and dress up a little bit myself but bring an element of comfort as I’m doing a lot of running around so I wear dresses paired with vans, so pretty much girly but comfortable.

    Three essentials in my LFW bag: A power bank for sure because my phone is always in my hand whether it’s for directions, taking usernames, checking the fashion week schedule or snapping the experience. Water because it is a long day and you will find yourself feeling dehydrated if you don’t. Lastly, business cards. I made the mistake of not having any ready but after working it I’ve come to realise how much everyone uses them and how helpful they can be for building contacts and getting your name out there.

    My most stressful part of fashion week: I think trying to feel like you’ve covered everything and getting to places on time definitely.

    My weirdest fashion week experience: I got stopped myself along with my friend who was doing photography and we were interviewed on our outfits and being black girls in fashion which was cool!

    Fashion week work snack: Energy bars, they fit anywhere, taste good and are quick to eat.

    Top LFW tip: Always do a schedule for your day the night before – times, locations and shows. You need to be prepared on the day.

    london fashion week careers

    Cathie Carday

    Job title: Showcaller/Backstage Manager

    What my job entails at fashion week: Ensuring the show goes smoothly, making sure any backstage requirements are met, setting up and breaking down the backstage area, and liasing with the show director, technical team and security to identify and solve any problems that arise. I’m also the go-to person for the designer and stylist to keep to schedule and ensuring everyone can do their job within the given timescale. I take care of the models and inform them of choreography and creating model line ups before and during shows, provide model lists for hair, make up and dressing teams. And as a showcaller I work with the sound and lighting team and cue the sound, lighting and models when we go to show.

    Last LFW I was… Working primarily as backstage manager in the BFC main show space but have worked on Steven Tai, Johnstons of Elgin and Mark Fast as a showcaller.

    What I wear on the job at LFW: I need to be invisible but not insignificant – the standard ‘uniform’ in event world is smart blacks but it is fashion so think utility chic – a jump suit with a designer pair of trainers is working well this season.

    Three essentials in my LFW bag: A bum bag, a clipboard and Paracetamol/ lipstick.

    My most stressful part of fashion week: The most stressful moment is when the alarm rings at 4am for a 5am call!

    My most exciting fashion week experience: Richard Quinn two seasons ago – our special guest was the Queen !!!

    Fashion week work snack: Bounce balls!

    Top LFW tip: Be fabulous, fierce and feminine!

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