No matter how many years you spend covering Fashion Week shows, you still get nervous about what to wear during those few weeks of the year when your personal wardrobe - particularly your shoes - gets inspected by industry peers. It's a case of long days (and sometimes nights) walking on cobblestone pavements to and from events, climbing stairs, using various Metros, getting lost and running for taxis in the rain.
And there is the inevitable standing around: waiting in taxi queues, show queues, ticket queues, having your name checked by girls with clipboards who, meanwhile -along with everyone else - are checking out your shoes. Even if you are lucky enough to have a limo to ferry you around, the 8am starts and 11pm finishes take a terrible toll on the feet. Once during a particularly rainy season in Milan, I developed something akin to trench foot. I hadn't realised my Manolos (borrowed from the fashion cupboard) were samples and only had suede soles.
Last September, after staggeringly high heels had been in fashion for five seasons, I started feeling a sharp twinge in my left foot every time it touched the floor, but only (wait for it-) when I was wearing high heels. Anything flat and hugely unflattering felt fine, but when I so much as slid my toe into a slingback or kitten heel, I ended up howling with pain. My doctor sent me to hospital. An X-ray and ultrasound scan later, I was told I had Morton's Neuroma (a rogue nerve in between my toes had become enlarged.) "It's not serious," the specialist told me.
"It is if you work in fashion," I said. The result of my diagnosis means that for the near future I can't wear what I suspect is the cause of the condition: high heels. Finding a pair of sensible ankle boots wasn't, however, as hard as I thought. On the advice of my trendy 15-year-old niece, I sought out the shoe label Fly, which is popular with teenagers. Fly makes big, fat wedges with a bevelled sole that make you feel as if you are walking on air. My Fly ankle boots, which actually have a five-inch heel (don't tell doc!), also look funky in a kind of orthopaedic way.
Imagine my surprise when, minutes into Day One of Fashion Week, I attracted a swarm of Japanese paparazzi. Fly is also a highly sought-after brand in Tokyo, it turns out. In fact, it couldn't have been a better time to be rocking clumpy black "granny shoes". One of the latest catwalk trends is "ortho-chic". If they weren't doing high heeled hiking boots, several designer shows (Jaeger, Osman and Betty Jackson, to name a few) were showing boots that had a distinctly orthopaedic-feel.
I ended up making friends with normally icy fashionistas from Paris and Milan, who gave my hand a grateful squeeze when I revealed where I had bought my Flys (Selfridges). There's nothing they love more than an insider tip. *************** The official body that organises London Fashion Week failed to organise anything to commemorate the death of Alexander McQueen. So it was up to the veteran photographer Chris Moore to do something.
The founder of Catwalking.com collaborated with the product designer Michael Warren on a spectacular installation that McQueen would have loved. Called simply Wall, it consisted of 40 iPod touches each displaying 2,000 images from McQueen show archives. Housed in an off-schedule location in a cavernous building in Bloomsbury, it allowed visitors to flick through photos spanning the spectrum of McQueen's shows, including his gig at Givenchy, as they waited for shows to start. It went some way to display the designer's scope, versatility and influences.
"I wanted to do something for this very special man," Moore said. "I can't remember a single presentation of his collections that didn't outright thrill me." No one would dare try and recreate the sort of show that became synonymous with McQueen, but his influences were everywhere: kilts at Daks, Margaret Howell and Christopher Kane; gladiator boots and, most of all, the razor-sharp, futuristic, body-conscious tailoring now known as the "London look".