With the announcement of Style Voyeur’s STM/ PerthNow partnership and as I begin preparations on my 5th Perth Fashion Festival – I find myself likening the experience of embarking on a fashion week as to how I imagine going into battle for the armed forces would be. There are certain tasks one must organise ahead of time with regimented control in order to survive out on the field. I have done 7 fashion weeks to date and these are my 10 Survival Tactics on how to make it out alive…
1. PACK YOUR RATIONS
First, pack your cupboard full of rations because you won’t have time to reach the motherland for longer than ever before. Those ration packs – necessary for in between shows or at 3am when there is no time to leave the barracks due to looming deadlines – could save your life.
2. OPTIMUM HEALTH IS VITAL
You must maintain optimum health at all times in the lead up to and for the full duration of fashion week, so as to not burn out and let down your side. While you try to avoid disillusionment from days and nights of little to no sleep, fighting back the hallucinations and oasis fantasies of 1,000 count Egyptian cotton sheets – your immune system will act as your armour. Whilst slightly less glamorous than chain mail, it will serve to protect you and you must wear it with pride. As you have no way of avoiding your fellow soldier’s (models) inevitable doom (catching the flu), whilst at the same time, must stay within close proximity of those infected down in the trenches (backstage) to complete your mission – your health must stand above all the other troops’ and is your only chance of survival. When the inevitable plague does come (one soldier falls, taking with her all of the rest), you must survive against all of the odds – or risk going AWOL – gravely affecting your line of duty.
3. BARRACKS AT THE READY
Your quarters need to be hospital clean as though a Drill Sargent would pardon you immediately because pulling together fashionable outfits in times of great weakness is highly necessary and bluffing in combat is a necessary evil. The aim here is to manage to look like you, in fact, DIDN’T crawl out of the trenches for every single fashion show, day after day – even though you definitely did.
4. CODE OF CONDUCT
Brush up on your salute, clear your diaphragm and practice your perfect ‘YES SIR!’
Despite what everyone thinks about bitchiness in the fashion industry, this is not the way to behave to get ahead. There are certain unwritten codes of conduct one must understand when in combat (backstage). In real life you may command a certain level of respect or notoriety as a blogger, but backstage you are the lowest ranking soldier. If you behave out of line or act above your station – in any instance or to anyone – you are jeopardising your chances of winning this war and just you watch that experience come back to bite you where the sun don’t shine!
Be nice to EVERYONE! The volunteers, the cleaners, the show callers, the hair people, the bar staff, everyone. Everyone is to be treated with the same level of sweetness you would show those waiting for you back on the mainland – no matter how exhausted or busy you are. I say this with sincerity because it is life or death. That very person you may have overlooked during a busy moment in the course of your day, could be the very person you actually end up relying on to save your life later on. If you show one iota of attitude, it will only serve to dishonor you when you least expect it.
5. KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE AND YOUR ENEMIES CLOSER
The security – or anyone preventing you from crossing the boarder (to backstage) where you need to be to do your job – is the enemy. The one who will serve to protect you when this happens (when you have left your media pass at home, for example) is most likely going to be someone you have luckily befriended already and comes to your rescue, because you abided by Survival Guide Tactic #4.
Befriending everyone is not only so they can help save you when trouble strikes, you genuinely need friends in combat (backstage) because the whole experience of being at war can be rather lonely at times – whilst everyone else is on the benches watching surrounded by people they know. Like going into battle – it takes guts. The first year I did PFF, I didn’t know the models or anyone and would literally go home and cry at night because I ACTUALLY felt like a weird Voyeur and was so lonely at times. I was also house-sitting my brother’s place and wasn’t born to spend this much time alone at night on my computer like a nerd (I am meant to be a vivacious leo) so it was tough at first. Over the years I have learnt that the moments you are with other people in combat (backstage), are moments to be cherished.
(Above – today’s STM announcement of Style Voyeur as part of the team covering PFF for PerthNow).
6. SHAPE UP OF SHIFT OUT
Know your place, stand in line and if someone needs your help, no matter who they are or what it is, even if it means putting your own line of duty in jeopardy – do everything you can to aid them in their plight. And it goes both ways. If disaster strikes and you need help, (a powerpoint to charge your dying camera battery) you better hope that the person who mans the power board, is someone you smiled at when you walked into the room earlier that day.
7. REMAIN SELFLESS BUT STRONG
Such as in times of war, being backstage at a fashion show can be incredibly stressful, hectic, scary and highly intense. In the past I have had to call models who are taking too long to change between looks to help the backstage manager as I am usually the closest person between the runway exit and the dressers – requiring me to put down my camera and potentially forfeit the Style Voyeur picture moment of the night. The main thing to remember at all times in your line of duty is that ultimately, you are serving the greater good. None of this is about you, nor about your job, it is about the bigger picture, it is life or death (for the fashion show and the people running it). If help is needed, you give it, period. The battle (show) must go on – or you all lose!
8. BE AWARE OF THE DANGERS ON THE FIELD
As far as I know, fashion is the only industry where drinking amongst your colleagues on the job at 9:00am is acceptable. Through the course of your mission you might have to fight every will in your being to remain disciplined and stay aware of the dangers on the field, (Champagne), as losing concentration and steering off course (drinking too much) will ensure grave consequences (missed deadlines, risking professionalism and your reputation).
9. THE FIGHT AND THE WAR SCARS
The whole point of going into battle, is to win. The reward? Peace, inspiration, and hope for the people you are fighting for. The process of war = bedlam, exhaustion and dismay. Whilst witnessing hungry people everywhere you turn (joking), you fight against the clock, fight to stay awake, fight to meet your deadlines, fight to look good (not like you are dying) and fight to do the best that you can do, day after day. You fight because you are a fighter and what you are fighting for is something greater than yourself. In the process you become so strong, it is life changing.
A couple of good tools in fighting all this battle is white eye-liner and Invisible Zinc tinted moisturiser. White eye-liner is the BEST thing on this here planet for making you look like you haven’t been up all night, and while foundation is okay – Invisible Zinc gives you that extra fresh glow 😉
10. BORN TO RUN
No matter what my particular responsibilities are each day, no matter how many pictures I take, or words I write – as a blogger, taking all of my own photographs, editing and writing for deadlines due at 9am the morning after the shows, this work can only get done throughout the night – when a regular person would be asleep. People find this hard to imagine and say, “do less, make time to sleep.” The reality is, they simply, have no idea.
The most I have slept during any fashion week is 1 hour each night, for 7 nights straight – and that is mostly through accidentally falling asleep, usually resulting in missing my deadline by that very. There is LITERALLY no time to sleep. In 2008 the festival used to be 10 days – thank Christ that got changed, they did because it was too tiring for all of us. I once chipped a tooth while nodding off at the computer, with both hands still firmly pressed on the keypad (no joke). I have also had more hallucinations than I’d like to recall, however Style Voyeur is a labour of love and, ironically, in the end, brings me a great deal of inner peace.
I love what I do. Style Voyeur is my calling, my love, my friend, my baby and my life, the pictures I get and working with the models, gives me pure joy – and the fact that I have a loyal, local and international following, well that is simply icing on the cake.
Participating in a fashion week is one of the most exhilarating adrenaline rushes anyone can experience and whilst DEFINITELY not for the faint hearted, deep down in my bones, I know that I was born to do it, war scars and all!
Disclaimer: This was a tongue-in-cheek article and was in no way intended to offend those (or the families of soldiers) who have served for The Armed Forces in the line of duty.
Above is the double page spread Welcome Page in STM featuring a Style Voyeur image I took at the PFF Launch a month ago – proud moment!