The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fashion minus the faces

London, Feb. 20 (Reuters): “Nice clothes, daaahling but where are all the celebs'”

After all, the fashion faithfuls who queued for hours in London’s freezing February weather were not just there to watch models sashaying down catwalks.

London Fashion Week, now drawing to a close, usually boasts a good quota of famous faces behind the designer sunglasses, but this year it seemed celebrities have followed fashion’s big names who have gone abroad for richer pickings.

The result: fame famine — and a chance for the overdressed and badly coordinated to make a name for themselves.

Reduced to looking out for soap actresses and children’s television presenters, photographers sometimes seemed ready to snap anything that moved.

They flocked around those who were meant to be viewing, not viewed. And naturally, buyers, public relations representatives and journalists obligingly went to great lengths for their outfits to stand out.

One woman, dressed in a tight white mini and sunglasses, got the flashbulbs popping when she sauntered in and placed herself on a prime front-row seat at one of the top shows.

Her dress and seat marked her out as someone famous but the photographers who flocked around were not sure exactly who she was — perhaps a European actress of note'

Er, no, not exactly. She was quickly asked to move on to a fifth-row seat by one of the ushers — social Siberia.

The week kicked off on Saturday as the biggest political march in British history got under way against the looming Iraq war. But most fashionists had more important things on their minds.

One magazine writer was heard weeping about a Valentine’s Day break-up with her boyfriend — instigated by her after he failed to secure a booking at the hippest restaurant in town. Those around her sympathised with such a shocking experience.

Champagne flowed at all times, even at the early morning shows. But any requests for something non-alcoholic at such unearthly hours were met by withering glares from the achingly hip bar staff.

Still, the fizz was useful for calming nerves backstage, where mayhem reigned.

“It’s quite something backstage but there’s definitely a difference in rank between male and female models,” model and full-time university student Nicholas Bryant said.

“It’s a lot more glamorous for the girls. No guy grows up wanting to be a model — and, believe me, I can understand why.”

The girls, he said, got all the money, glamour and attention but rarely granted the boys even a “hello” or a friendly glance, despite all the hopeful approaches.

Hairdressers were in a frantic race against time to meet the requirements for each show. They often had only a few minutes to turn wildly teased manes from a previous show into greasy, lanky locks for the next.

“Sometimes we work with two people on one model,” said Luca Portadibasso, hair-stylist for Vision salon in London — a glass of champagne in his hand as he recovered after the last show.

“It’s really exciting though and the models — especially the famous ones — are very nice.”

With all the business of negotiating traffic, keeping hair in place and dodging protest rallies as they raced around from show, the models were often delayed.

But at the end of the day everything ran on time — which in fashion land is, of course, always late.

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