Monday, 3 October 2016


After the heavy thoughts left behind by the morning's first two sessions, it was a relief to enjoy something lighthearted, and so my Carer and I stayed put in The Clore Ballroom, which was currently being adapted for the Ryan LO retrospective that I was so keen to get to earlier. 

Set up in a circle, there was a small path left for the models to pass through, and little else. Noting that there was little space for me to squash into, I asked the same helpful staff member who offered his services at the start of the Diversity panel, to guide me to a place where I would not be in the way for the next segment. Moving a row of benches, he told me to move into the space that he had created, only it was on the end of said path, where the models would be walking past me, and focusing on the audience in the opposite direction. I had a prime view of the back of each - which was great, but selfishly, I have a thing about seeing the front of an outfit; I know, it's arrogant, but what can I say, we all have our vices...

The Ryan LO Retrospective - or at least a part of it...

Realising that I was not going to get a decent shot from the awkward position that I was placed in, I whizzed backstage in the hopes of pleading my case to be allowed to view the collection again, since I was incapable of seeing from the position that I had been put in; instead I noticed that amidst the commotion, the models were already being asked to pose for a gaggle of photographers! Deciding to get my fill, I snapped my way through every single outfit that I could find, until I felt that I had a good feel for the collection.

Dainty, and playful in some lacy areas, the LO collection made me think of the lead characters in Virginia Andrews' novels, once they had been whisked away to the collective rich families that they had all been ripped from at birth. That was one half of the collection. On the other, there was a playful, childish element to some pieces, in the shapes of animals, with soft, almost towelling textures, that reminded me of animal suits at children's parties, completely out of place with the ideals of what a catwalk should showcase (and maybe that was the objective). Bringing together eight seasons of collections, a quick fact check of the show information confirmed that the Hong Kong born designer's previous collections involved tulle and lace-clad bunnies in SS14cosmic cowgirls in AW14, and Shanghai ladies in AW16.

The Ryan LO Retro...well let's just call it backstage...

Going so far as to quote him, the page stated:

"This is a really fun and rewarding project for us bringing together four years of hard work! Southbank Centre is massively important for the development of culture in London, and it's an honour to present a retrospective show here. I hope to see those new and familiar with fashion at the event!"
Ryan LO

Reuniting with the Carer I had left in the dust to get my shots, we headed outside to try to catch the FAD Fashion Young Designers Showcase, but it had unfortunately taken place whilst I was on the opposite side of the building snapping the models. Deciding it was a perfect opportunity to prepare for the next event, also due to take place in The Clore Ballroom, we saw to our needs in a very small, uncomfortable place supposedly designated for the disabled, but clearly not designed by anyone with special needs - before barely escaping with our lives, to go and join the rest of the spectators amassed to see the dance troupe choreographed by Lea Anderson.

Entitled 'Getting Dressed', we saw what I thought was an inspired interactive routine, where dancers were dressed and undressed in four ateliers that had been set up in a loosely circular shape; allowing the four people dressing up to climb down off of the platforms, and walk amongst the crowd until they'd done a lap in clothes by designers like Mary KatrantzouChristian Dior, Regina Pyo, Natasha Zinko and Bora Aksu. Then, they would be helped onto another platform, where the process was repeated in artistic form. Spurred on by a soundtrack that included tracks like Do It Again by Royksopp and Robyn, I Got  A Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas, Turn Up The Love by Far East Movement, and Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO to close.

Hightailing it outside, where the Festival Terrace was now extremely busy, we found a good spot where we could take in the Benjamin Milan performance, which had already started. Amazed at the feats which this man could perform with his body, it was mindblowing to watch him in action. Merging modern dance and 'vogueing' with what could only be described as contortionism, it was easy to see why celebrities like FKA Twigs return to him to express the music in their videos time and again. Speaking with him after his jaw-dropping performance; I learned that his inspiration never fails him; and there was no difference for him when it came to choreographing a fashion show, or a music video - both were about taking the designer / musician's ideas for the ethos and aesthetic, and turning those into movement that expresses the message behind each to their full, fluid extent.

Benjamin Milan moved in ways that made the human body question itself...well my human body, at least.

With some time to spare before the next event began, I used the opportunity to take in the What We Wore exhibition. Photographer Nina Manandhar collated Britain's style history dating back to 1950 in an attempt to find out how we have changed, and whether we had come full circle in that time. She also used the document to learn whether some clothes held memories attached - therefore making them an integral part to our make up as human beings.

A sweet reminiscent note, inspired by the nostalgia of the exhibition...

Heading back outdoors, it was time for the penultimate event on the timetable - The People's Catwalk. It was interesting to see the variety of people who got up to strut their stuff like a professional; from independent designers with a group of models in their creations, to children, to best friends, to bloggers in a wheelchair...

There's something familiar about this...

After my rolling merriment that earned me several hi-5's and congratulatory comments; I took in the rest of the catwalk and felt the shared camaraderie of individuals of varied race, creed and culture accepting one another, giving a brand new meaning to the term 'super' models.

All to soon, we had come to the end of the show, and two gorgeous rays of sunshine appeared at the DJ booth on the already hot and sticky day, made stickier by boogying on the Southbank to the feet-burning (I'm assuming) sounds played by the infamous DJ, The Last Skeptik. Playing one of the best multi-decade sets I've heard in awhile - the 90s RnB segment especially - then were my feet working, I assure you they too would have been burning! Making my way towards the shining beauties, I introduced myself to the very sweet and accommodating MAC Twins. Explaining that I had tried to book a quick 5-minute interview with them through their PR company, who'd informed me that they were booked up, both ladies happily hopped down off of the platform and asked me what I would like to know. Agreeing to move to a marginally quieter area, I asked them the following:

Which infuses the other for you: Music or Fashion?

Alana: "Mmmm...Probably Music!"

Lisa: "And I'm more Fashion!"

Alana: "She's a bit more outrageous with her fashion..."

Lisa: "I'm more charity bucket...

Alana: "Yeah!"

Lisa: "...and she's more...

Together: "Zara!"

Alana: "It's all about the basic, straight lines for me - black jeans and a tee-shirt - boom, I'm happy!"

Lisa: "And I'm like, whatever I can find..."

Alana: (rolls eyes comically) "more like fancy dress..."

Lisa: (mocks digging in the bottom of a charity bucket) "...bargain bucket - I'm like yep, I'll have that!"

Do you think style icons are relevant when it comes to Diversity?

Alana and Lisa AKA The MAC Twins
Lisa: "I think that...I mean, we're from a working class-sort of background, so we never had icons growing up, we just saw what all of our friends were wearing...we actually had fake adidas with (both finish) three stripes!"

Alana: "Y'know I think it's good to have style icons, but only if it's attainable? A lot of people have a style icon that they look up to, but there's no way that they could ever have a wardrobe like that. It's important to influence young people to be their own individual rather than be a carbon copy of someone else. Like I think that the Kardashians have a great style, but not everyone can look like them. Whereas I think it's important to influence people to be exactly who they want to be."

What is your advice for young women who wish to be taken seriously as DJ's in today's climate?

Lisa: "Stick to your guns about what you feel comfortable in and what you don't feel comfortable in. We were told so many times that we had to wear heels and a dress to DJ; whereas most of the time...(both cock an opposite leg almost as high as my head to show their trainers) we're in trainers! And also, Fill your box with stuff that you want to play; we were told you have to play this to DJ, you have to play that to DJ...whereas I like RnB, she's more house music..."

Alana: "If you wanna play Bewitched and Five, play Bewitched and Five!"

Lisa: "Yeah...You might clear a room with that...(Lisa patted her twins shoulder in mock condescension as Alana skulked in an adorably dorky fashion)...You have to be able to sleep at night with your integrity intact, knowing that you did whatever works for you, and that you didn't compromise yourself or anyone else."

At that, I asked the girls if they wouldn't mind taking a quick selfie with their new biggest fan, to which they humbly obliged, gave hugs, and borderline skipped away to take over their set like the double rays of sunshine that they are. I seriously want to know where to apply to become their new best friend - I adored them both with every fibre of my being.

Yours Truly with her new pretend Best Friends...

Dragged away from my fangirl moment only with the promise of painkillers for my now pain-filled body, I acquiesced and agreed that it was finally hometime. A brilliant inaugural event save a few tweaks, I can only wait to see what they come up with next year. But if there's one thing that's for certain - I'll be more prepared to rock that catwalk next year; and I won't need to worry about being on two legs to do it.

That's all for this three-part series! Catch me back here shortly for THE BIG REVIEW in the ESPspotlight on Craig David's new album, Following My Intuition - I know that I'm following mine!

Until the next...

All photos taken by EricaSharlette and Eva Travnickova for EricaSharlette Promotions Ltd.