Crash Testing: How To Get Into a Runway Show Without Being Invited

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET

I should be ashamed to admit it, but the journalist in me feels justified. Crashing a fashion show is at best tacky and at worst illegal (I'm sure there's some trespassing law against it). But if something is extremely newsworthy, isn't it my professional duty to go above and beyond to cover it? And, if anything was ever worth going above, beyond and through a cue of three hundred guests for, then the Gareth Pugh show is it. Understandably, his name might not ring a bell, but in the London fashion scene, the Scottish-born designer is close to legend. His gothic flavored creations have earned him multiple mentions in Vogue magazine, a New Designer of the Year nomination from the British Fashion Council and the fervent ardor of successful writers, struggling artists and mainstream celebrities alike. The irony, of course, is very few people can actually manage to simultaneously wear his clothes and look sane. His artistic, mammoth-like ensembles are more art than outfits. But that hasn't stopped him from being one of the hottest tickets during London Fashion Week.

So for the sake of my profession, I had to get in. Unfortunately I don't rate high enough in style or stature to actually register on his p.r. company's radar. So after several emails and a follow-up phone call, I still had no invitation. Fortunately, I've been in this predicament before and learned that necessity always inspires innovation. So with my cutest bag, highest boots, and chicest jacket I crafted a look that was meant to communicate my sheer importance without uttering a word. If it did come to words, I was prepared to announce I'd lost my ticket and demand that I be let in. Yet, whatever statement I hoped to make -- verbal or otherwise -- was quickly deleted once I saw the hordes of people waiting to enter the show. In a sea of shimmering dresses, colorful heels and luxury bags I looked...plain. My wardrobe alone wouldn't work. My courage failed me.

Between nervous glances at the growing crowd and aggressive p.r. rep at the door, my friend Valentina -- who was fortunate enough to have a ticket -- and I schemed on ways to get me in. Should I announce myself as her intern? Should I pretend to be a photographer? Should I act indignant and storm in? None of these seemed right, leaving me with prayer as the only option. Blessedly, with all that's going on in this world, heaven still has time to respond to fashion week requests. My prayers were answered and my angels appeared in the form of two stunning and stylish editors from Elle (UK) magazine. After over an hour of waiting online, they decided to leave -- but they didn't exit without doing a good deed: they bestowed their invitations on me.


Thirty minutes later, I made my graceful entrance into the show -- right behind the editor in chief of British Vogue, Alexander Shulman, to boot! As if in honor of a mission accomplished I, along with the other guests, was treated to a champagne reception before the show officially began. I grabbed a flute of Moet and a comfortable seat in the second row. It was prime location to view the collection, which did not disappoint. Pugh was in rare form and showed his rapt audience tailored jackets trimmed with shaggy hair-length fur, cocoon like skirts constructed from silver, scalloped plastic and hooded tops that jutted out from the body in tough, triangular shapes. Some unlucky soul behind me, who only had a standing ticket, commented to his friend on what a brilliant artist Pugh is. I agree. His is in turning out remarkable clothing, and mine is in turning up -- invited or not -- to see them.