The excitement of waking up to go to Condé Nast College sadly came to an end as I recently graduated. Thankfully though, the Vogue Festival in collaboration with Harrods gave me a little more of that Vogue experience to look forward to.
The first day of this highly coveted Fashion event finally arrived, and so did spring. With icy-blue, clear skies, the terrace in front of Queen Elisabeth Hall is crowed with people soaking up the sun while drinking pitchers of Pimm’s. Photographers are on full alert to capture the latest trends - open toe sandals, pastel colors, tinted sunglasses, long skirts paired with carefully chosen tee shirts, and jackets thrown on shoulders.
I enter the building waving through the fashionable crowd chatting in front of the entrance. The buzzing space is animated by bloggers taking photographs, girls waiting for an OPI manicure, or a Burberry make-up touch-up. Hershesons hairstylists are curling long hair and spraying Kérastase products on beautifully styled braids. In the Vogue shop space, people are trying out the Vogue sweater and debating whether to buy the pink printed or the navy blue one.
Joining my friends for coffee at Vogue Café, I hear my friend screaming “that’s Karlie! Karlie Kloss is here!” Indeed, supermodel Karlie Kloss is in the middle of the space, wearing a "rich bitch" printed baseball sweater with a prune metallic knee skirt, and open toe bobble shoes of the same color. Surrounded by Kate Phelan, and the creative team of British Vogue, she follows the photographer’s instructions. Security asks the few people, who already took out their iPhones, not to take pictures as the photoshoot is for the June issue of Vogue.
The first talk that I attended was Phoebe Philo, Creative Director of Céline. A severe and fierce woman who finds "mediocrity hard" tells Alexandra Shulman: “If I don’t want to put bags on the runway then there won't be bags on the runway”. Previously working at Chloé, she left because it “wasn’t her anymore”. She couldn’t stress enough that buying Céline is an investment and it is “not about fast fashion, there’s a sense of quality.”
Between talks, we hop to live styling session by the most coveted stylists including Fashion Editor Lucinda Chambers. While sipping Prosecco, we mingle with the Vogue crowd – with Sarah Harris hosting the “present your idea” workshop, and our principal Susi Forbes and Fran Bentley, Managing Editor of Vogue wandering around, there is not a single dull moment. Suddenly people circle around like a colony of ants around a crumb of bread. As the overwhelming anthill came toward us we notice at the center a very elegant Valentino, making his way through the buzzing crowd, chin up, head high in the most sumptuous way. His longtime partner and honorary president of the fashion house, Giancarlo Giammetti is discretely following the famous designer like he has been doing for more than 40 years. Instantly recognizing him I jump on this occasion to take a snapshot with him.
Valentino, the king of Glamour, delighted the audience with his genuine passion and his charming Italian accent. His world is beautiful, he lives and breathes and designs for beauty. His signature colour, Valentino red is what he calls a lucky colour. For him, wearing a dress is a big challenge for a woman because “when she wears a dress she has to make the dress live.” His answers filled with humour and warmth with a hint of innocence, made his talk the most touching and agreeable of the Vogue festival.
Day two starts off with a talk on the digital revolution and its impact on the Fashion industry. Fashion icon and business woman Miroslava Duma, high-profile photographer Nick Knight, designer Mary Katrantzou and model Pixie Geldof, form the prestigious panel. It precedes a “bad taste or good taste” discussion that confronts the divergent opinions of Lily Allen, Jasper Conran and Grayson Perry.
As we wait to take pictures in the Burberry photo booth, a PR lady from Harrods grabs us, and the next thing we know, my friends and I are working the runway on the Harrods Live Catwalk. People are watching the show - some are clapping, while others shout the name of their friend, brave enough to walk the catwalk all alone. As we reach the edge of the runway we have 3 seconds to pose and share our best smile dazzled by the camera’s flashing lights.
Making our way to the last talk of the festival, Condé Nast events photographer Darren confidentially tells us “ Naomi is on her way and she will come to the main entrance if she is in the mood.” While we impatiently wait for her arrival, Calgary Avansino, wellbeing and contributing Editor at Vogue screams: “Karlie’s Cookies”. As it catches my attention, I turn and notice Karlie Kloss distributing vegan cookies to a rushing and impatient crowd.
We quickly realize Naomi Campbell wasn’t in the mood to show up as they urge us to take our seats for her talk. Sitting with the outspoken Franca Sozzani, Editor in Chief of Vogue Italia, she shares her rise to the top and thriving career. Along with the influential editor, the one that Mandela called her “honorary granddaughter” campaign together for racial equality in the fashion industry. One major cause they fight for among many more. There could have not been a better way to end this inspiring weekend rather than with these two incredible women.