Like many fashion fanatics, it has always been my goal to attend one of the big four. No, Sauder snakes, I’m not talking about accounting firms. I'm talking about the big fashion weeks — New York, London, Milan and Paris. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered I had the opportunity of attending the 2017 Milan Fashion Week.
I still honestly have no idea how I — a student all the way from Vancouver — managed to weasel my way in and basically get the experience of my life. A few weeks have passed now and it still feels like a dream. The phrase “fake it till you make it” has never been more real (except at any job interview I’ve ever had). Yes, I had a press pass, but I wasn’t a high-fashion reporter or anything. I was honestly just trying to take in any fashion week mayhem I could get my hands on. But despite feeling this way even before the week began, I channeled my nerves into motivating me to apply for numerous invitations, some of which I miraculously received.
And so my fashion quest began. My initial reaction to finding out I landed invitations to some of the events was to freak dance to the Lady Gaga song, “Donatella.” But as the moment passed, I soon realized that I had no idea how fashion week actually worked. I scoured the internet trying to look for advice, but believe it or not, “how to be a reporter during fashion week” wasn’t high up in the Google search bar. Eventually I realized I had to just show up to whatever events I was invited to and learn as I went.
So let me break down my general day-to-day routine.
My day would begin the night before, where I would download my invitations to shows onto my iPhone and then get a nice sleepless night, full of stress about what outfit to wear for the following day. Of course, I would have loved to dress like a diva style-blogger, walk to shows in my tiny stilettos and have fancy black cars chauffeur me around. Alas, my choice of footwear were Converse and my transportation was the underground metro. But hey, I’m not complaining.
I’d wake up, get dressed, grab my friend’s Canon DSLR camera which she graciously let me borrow and be on my way. I would then ride the metro to attend either a presentation or a show.
As I discovered, this is how fashion week works — designers display their collections at either a presentation or show, something I wasn’t aware of. Presentations are meant for lower-tier designers who get to simply showcase the clothes on their models in a room. These were really fun to attend, as you get to spend a lot of time looking at the details of the clothing while enjoying the free food and prosecco being offered. Additionally, the designers style the venue of the presentation to their liking, so I walked into winter wonderlands, forests and what I think was just someone’s house. What these presentations did lack was the glitz and glamour of a full-on fashion show, of which I got to attend a few.
The show is the real deal
I know a lot of times the experiences that you see in movies don't really resemble real life, but let me tell you that fashion shows are all they're hyped up to be. There are photographers everywhere and people dress in ways that I’ve never seen before in my life. At these shows, you’ll see all the crazy, sexy, cool people (TLC reference intended) dressed in beautiful or weird clothing, trying to get noticed by photographers or pass through the bouncers into the shows.
If there’s one thing I learned during the Milan Fashion Week — besides that fact that the exhaustion is real — it is that confidence can get you anywhere. If you get on that cocky Leonardo DiCaprio, Catch Me If You Can attitude, photographers will surely come snap photos of you and you will surely get into shows. All you have to do is play the part. This is slightly easier said than done, but still, looking around at the numerous guys and girls waiting outside of high-profile shows, they truly looked like they belonged there even if they had no ticket to get in. Cameras came flashing to girls who wore shoes that I had definitely seen on the sales shelf of Zara the day before.
Luckily for me, I had passes for all the shows I got into. I was generally assigned to the standing section, which meant that I had to wait until there were free seats leftover. This meant squeezing my way into the front row a few times, but it also meant waiting for an hour to sit down for a five to ten-minute show. Surprisingly, the norm for these fancy shows is that everything and everyone runs late, but when you get in, that waiting becomes all worth it. The lights dim, pretentious techno music starts to play and you get lost in the buzz of the show. After a full day of running around, it was back to my house loading the invitations for the next day and trying to get some rest. Needless to say, I got sick by the time the week was over. Was it worth it? Hell yes.
Fake it till you make it
By the end of the week, I realized what impressed me most during the Milan Fashion Week, besides the amazing shows that I attended, was the fact that fashion isn’t about what designer you are wearing or if you are a celebrity. It’s how you can take whatever you have in your closet and make it work (Tim Gunn reference). How do you make it work? By strutting those cobble-stoned streets like you own them. From my personal experience, it is definitely harder than it sounds. So that’s why, for my next upcoming articles, I’ll be documenting my day-to-day experience of the Milan Fashion Week to show you how the fashion trends from the runway can be brought right to your closet. Just know that, honestly, the only accessories you really need are your unique style and your confidence.