Ever wondered what it’s like to be backstage at London Fashion Week? We followed our latest collection of Orla Kiely shoes as they played a starring role in her SS15 show.
Vogue backstage photographer, Robert Fairer, captures the scene.Shop the collection
7.30 am Boxes of shoes are neatly lined up under rails of pastel clothes. Each one is labelled with a model’s name: Stella, Ira, Melanie, Milena, Charlotte, Zorena, Viki. There are clumpy platforms in chocolate mock-croc, square toe patent sling backs with outsize chains, royal blue platforms with daisies on their toes and baby blue T-bar flats. The shoes' names are even cuter than the models' names: Beryl, Barbara, Betty, Bobbie and Bibi.
7.50 am Models sit in folding chairs; two hairdressers per girl, blowing out and straightening their hair while a manicurist paints pearly pink polish on their toes. In make-up, it’s all about pale faces and huge Bambi eyes. ‘It’s soft focus but with a hint of rebellion’ explains head make-up artist Attracta Courtney, as she blots matte apricot onto a girls lips.
8.00 am An army of dressers stand to attention by the rails. ‘Do you know who’s dressing who so I can shout at them?’ one asks. ‘Who’s after Vita? Chiara? Who’s after Chiara? Zorena?’
8.10 am Orla is planning the models’ route through the show. She walks between rows of white benches and up onto a stage lined with outsize flowers in flower pots. Props people are busy shovelling compost into the pots. Orla steps carefully over them.
8.20 am A huge box of shoes gets dragged into the middle of the room. They look as bright as sweets. Models hang around eating Krispy Kremes, waiting to have their make-up checked.
8.30 am Orla’s senior designer, Darren Cross, is going through the looks with the dressers. ‘See this one? You just have to pin it on, but it’s the first look so you’ll have time.’ He moves along the rails. ‘This one the hands have to be in the pockets. This top is tucked in. We’re going with the shorter skirt here. Both with the blue flats. Knot the belt – don’t tie it.’
8.56 am The backstage area is filling up. ‘Anyone ready? Any models?’ asks a dresser. Hairdresser, Luke Hersheson, is spraying hairspray on perfectly parted, perfectly straight hair. ‘It’s 60s Woodstock meets Penelope Tree,’ he says. ‘Super straight – as if they’ve spent hours ironing their hair on an ironing board.’
9.00 am The girls start to line up beside their clothes. Make-up artists dab concealer onto their legs then it’s socks off and into the shoes. ‘Is that too tight or too long?’ asks a dresser doing up a slender mock-croc strap. A model – looking like a baby Jackie O in a floral shift and cream patent sling-backs – grabs a croissant and eats it in seconds, brushing the crumbs off her front.
9.10 am ‘Girls, I want to get you in order,’ shouts Darren. ‘Can I have Ira, Milena and then Charlotte?’ He kneels to adjust a T-bar strap so that it sits perfectly on the centre of a foot. ‘Where’s Vita? I need her NOW!’
9.21 am The walk through is getting complicated. The logistics of posing for the cameras and planting their daisies in the flower pots is proving too much for some of the girls. Some walk off with their daisies and are ushered back, others plant huge flowers in perilously small pots. There are several near collisions.
9.35 am ‘Five minutes! Five minutes!’ The girls are lining up in running order – a row of pastel clothes, endless legs and at the end of those legs, shoes the colour of macaroons. US Vogue photographer, Robert Fairer, is sitting on the floor snapping the scene as the girls practice their poses. Flash! Flash! Flash!
9.40 am The music starts – a 60s mash-up of Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra’s duet ‘One Velvet Morning’ and The Rolling Stone’s ‘She’s Like A Rainbow’. Checked once, checked twice, the girls slip through the curtains and out into the show.
9.45 am Round and round the flowerpots the girls go, while LA artist, Alia Penner, and her two white overall-ed sidekicks paint big daisies onto a Perspex backdrop. The girls rush back to change into their second outfits. Hair is smoothed, outfits and shoes checked, faces are dabbed. Then it’s out again.
10.00 am Orla peeps through the curtains and smiles. No collisions, no trips, no fallen daisies. The girls are running backstage laughing, chunky heels clicking on the concrete floor. Then, as quick as it began, it’s over. Applause.