Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Article excerpt

London Fashion Week is one of those events, like the Lib Dem Conference and the Max Power show, that is important to a few people but passes most of us by. It is unspeakably pretentious and whips some of my more fashion-conscious friends into a frenzy of wild-eyed insecurity. Have they been invited to the right parties? Does everyone else know which parties they chose to avoid? Fashion has no mercy apparently. London Fashion Week seems to have very little to do with fashion.

There is a schedule of shows where young and suspiciously young-looking designers display their often unwearable cloths on dysentery-thin models. The Americans and the French don't take it seriously. It ranks somewhere below Tokyo Fashion Week and above Kazakhstan Fashion Week, which by all accounts was a disaster. I went to the Luella party because Fashion Week mania is contagious and I got that 'If I don't go, I'll be missing out' feeling. The entrance to the Claridge's Ballroom looked like a branch of Northern Rock except that the people queuing round the block wore black 'skinny' jeans and clutched mobile phones, not savings books. They had the same look of panic and desperation on their faces - terrified of losing their social currency. Once inside I remembered why I preferred looking at photographs of Russian models to talking to them. Everyone was obsessing over the PPQ party around the corner. Was I going? Could they come?

I was going home, I said. Home? This fashion junkie tried to place the word, wondering if this was some underground club or new brand not yet on their pop-cultural radar.

'I'm not bothered either way, ' said the man sitting next to me on Eurostar.

I'd asked him if he liked art. His answer staggered me. I spend so much time trawling auction catalogues, going to exhibitions and discussing art (non-pretentiously) with other addicts that I'd forgotten that some people feel about art the way I feel about football - that it's baffling and boring. Everything I collect is destined for the house I will one day buy, but is more likely to end up with the bailiffs. Once they know you a little, art dealers offer you 'terms'. I represent the bad debt of the art world. Every month I pay the gallery that scares me the most. I get emails and texts, and people call at the house. Sara, my fiancee, has been briefed to ignore fey plummy-sounding men when they telephone. Nothing has been repossessed yet, but I'm waiting, nervously. Pictures are so much easier to buy than they are to sell. Especially macabre drawings by minor Belgian artists. It will either end well - with a studio flat in Ealing (the new Acton) groaning with weird art. …

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