There are also a few unspoken rules and points of etiquette about what you wear during showtime.
Front-row choices can be pretty influential, too
What is the fashion pack wearing front-row? Having been reporting from the front line at London Fashion Week, which this season attracted A-list players including Carine Roitfeld and Anna Wintour, I can report that it was a mixture of current-season (autumn/winter) trends - aviator jackets, leopard print, black leather, shades of camel - and next-season (wedges, 1970s denim, split hems and form-fitting dresses) gleaned directly from what's been rocking the catwalk so far.
Most editors and senior store buyers have been in the business long enough to have honed their own styles, sometimes eclectic, sometimes classic - or even both - and it makes sense that by the time they reach the front row most are well into their 30s and wouldn't dream of experimenting with a new proportion or print advocated by whoever is the designer of the moment. They have learnt from experience the appropriate gear to wear for long days, long queues and straight-from-show parties.
Fashionistas whose budgets stretch to cars often have a few heel-heights and a blingy necklace stashed away in the limo glove compartment. Most have to make do with a large handbag to accommodate pumps, a warm scarf and - in London - a brolly. A lot of magazine editors who have the luxury of cherry-picking which shows they attend (a case of who pays to advertise in their glossies) get to nip home or to the office to change in between.
There are also a few unspoken rules and points of etiquette about what you wear during showtime. Many fashion editors will wear something hauled from the back of the wardrobe/fashion cupboard rather than splash out on whatever is the piece of the season. The idea behind this is that it's far better to wear the Yves Saint Laurent vintage dress or cropped bolero that will inspire the designer who will subsequently make it the piece the following season.
That is, however, a gamble. A wise fashion editor chooses proportions that flatter her particular figure or colouring, and adds the bag-of-the-minute - Mulberry "Alexa" or Alexander Wang "Rocco" - to show she's in the know. Carine Roitfeld and her daughter, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, were both wearing a lot of animal print sitting front-row at shows like Erdem and Mark Fast. Carine stuck to a tiger-print coat (with bare legs and short socks worn with Balenciaga heels), while Julia wore Louboutin leopard-print high heels with a black leather dress.
Certain new fashion-week catwalk trends emerged too, such as the loose faded denim shirt or lightweight parka worn over skinny trousers or leopard-print leggings. Leather trousers and pencil skirts were another front-row favourite, as were vintage 1970s printed dresses. Funnily enough, mid-heels and kitten heels - which, as we know, have been advocated by fashion editors as the accessory of autumn/winter 2010 - were conspicuous by their absence (pointed-toe mid-heels are the most excruciatingly painful shoe known to woman).
The stack wedge is stepping back into the limelight, both on the catwalk in cork, and off in suede. This rocks the 1970s vibe and is super-comfy. Biker boots, the fashion hybrid of the hiking boot and flat two-tone brogues, were very popular by day. But it would be erroenous to suggest anything other than high heels were favoured by fashionistas for evening. Many women who work in the industry really do have the sort of lollipop-stick legs (I call them "fashion legs") that, if you photographed them, you'd be accused of Photoshopping the result.
This is perhaps why, regardless of what happens to be the hemline du jour, legs are always bare or clad in boyish socks worn with sandals or Miu Miu T-bar heels. Heels remain the ubiquitous sign of glamour and one-upmanship - particularly if you can walk in them, which is a skill fashionistas must master if they wish to succeed in the industry. What about the aviator jacket, I hear you ask? The front row was full of these. So much so that editors wearing it were nicknamed "aviatoristas" (and aviatrixes by their assistants).
These were worn over lace and with pretty much everything from dresses and military combats to pretty blouses and 1950s tomboy jeans. What was my wardrobe? A camel coat-dress from a very establishment-type London outfitter called Cordings. It suits me because I'm blonde. I also didn't have to worry too much about anything else. This was my statement. Oh and my Tom Ford Azure Lime perfume. You might think sitting front-row is cool, but boy does it get hot.