Fashion Week has come round fast this autumn. Or at least it seems so to Violet Perrault, who is “beyond busy” styling semi-obscure young actresses for a not-quite-bimonthly, independent glossy, and as a result hasn’t managed her usual pre-show regime. This consists of a fortnight at the fabulously hard-core Mayr Clinic followed by an only-slightly-less-strict four-week diet, after which voluptuous Violet is less curvy, and more fit for a week of catwalks and carousals.
This summer, however, “work commitments” – actually a pretty uncommitted dalliance with a love-rat photographer called Enzo – have meant she’s only had a week at the Mayr. This is too bad: she never got into the swing of things, skipped a few Epsom salt purges, and is hungry, headachy and craving wine. Worse, there’s no time to readjust to civilian life: her flight home doesn’t land until 8pm, and the first show the next morning is at 10am across town. Too tired when she reaches her flat to contemplate cooking, or even a takeaway, Violet munches on her stash of “emergency biscuits” and some chocs she finds in the fridge, next to a third-empty bottle of Frascati that’s now only good for cooking. Or, as it turns out, glugging.
Violet awakes in a fug at 8.30am, and is flopping into a car by 9.15am. She’s never got ready so quickly. But then, she’s a pro: she prepped her “Fash Week Weeds” and make-up palette before she left for the Mayr; so despite today’s McQueen-Dior-Schwab ensemble being a touch on the squeezy side, she looks, well, passable.
She is more than passably famished, though, so breakfast at Romeo’s show will be a relief – he loves to lay on food “just like mamma’s”. But instead of the usual caffè latte and cornetti, Romeo has opted for a “Model Breakfast”, and Violet, elbowing a delicate-looking Ukrainian out of her way, finds abundant displays of… fruit, fat-free yoghurt and herbal tea. All the muesli has gone. She grasps what she thinks is an orange juice; the slight fizz should alert her to its champagne content, but after last night’s Frascati assignation she doesn’t even taste it. She downs two glasses and is shown to her (sixth-row) seat, as the press girls shrill that “the show’s about to start!”. It isn’t, of course – and doesn’t for another 25 minutes, by which time she’s said “chow” to the six Ladurée lime-basil macarons in her goodie bag. The confection of clothes is similarly delectable, and Romeo insists that Violet toast his success backstage with a large glass of Veuve, which she does swiftly, as she’s due at the Foliage show.
This one was supposed to start at 11.30am. Elevenses is on offer, but it’s already noon and there’s no time to grab croissant or crumpet (amazingly, the table is groaning with carbs; not so amazingly, they’re untouched), and Violet, cursing Fashion Week’s Alaïa-snug schedule, finds herself by the runway contemplating lunch – unlike the ethereal models, she thinks, many of whom look as if they last ate lunch in spring/summer 2008.
Then it’s backstage again, with a golden opportunity to lay her hands on a savoury smorgasbord; but she’s too embarrassed to be seen eating by a trio of famous waifs, who hover round a golf-ball-sized smoked-salmon canapé before finally deciding to split it three ways. Violet’s diet-obsessed friend Mo shows up, swigging a foul-looking green liquid she claims is a “wheatgrass smoothie” – but Violet has already spotted the Stoli bottle in Mo’s gaping Black Forest Mulberry Del Rey tote. So why, Violet thinks, should she beat herself up about a bit of bubbly?
And so it goes on. From show to show, Violet devours teensy goodie-bag nibbles while the lights are off (It-bag-shaped biscuits, ganache truffles, petits-fours) and slugs champers backstage.
After the final show, a fuzzy Violet (past hunger, thanks to her double-figure champagne intake) arrives at a “must-go” bash at a chic Mayfair hotel. Tumbling out of her car and swaying precariously on her vertiginous heels, she focuses (barely) on the next challenge: a revolving door. It’s only after her fourth spin, when she’s bamboozledly back where she started, that she spots Enzo, focusing on her – literally. Snap! The blinding light of his flash triggers the sudden recollection that she’d hired him to follow her around discreetly for the day for a pap-style feature for the magazine.