What happens when you take your kids to London Fashion Week?

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    Fashion journalist Regina Motalib and her six-year-old twins, Bella and Ralph, find out 

    I always knew I had to prepare myself for some challenges when my six-year-old twins took on mummy’s job and became journalists for London Fashion Week SS17. They have the right personalities for the project, but sadly little enthusiasm for my profession. Bella’s love of Lego and art led to her current dream job goals; she wants to be an architect. Definitely more Zaha Hadid than Marie Colvin. She had already decided redesigning her favourite building, The Shard, would be her first project. Ralph on the other hand, the budding inventor/scientist/rockstar, was far too busy inventing ‘the battery that never runs out’ and regularly telling me I should at least “try” to write for the Argos catalogue.

    My twins are headstrong and never afraid to express themselves, that’s for sure. And with an open mind we set off to compile Bella and Ralph’s London Fashion Week diary.

    Our first soirée was the Paul Costelloe show. It was straight after school and raining hard, so we had to zhuzh up their school uniform with wellies – The Original Muck Boot Company Hasbro Transformer ones for Ralph and pink zebra stripes for Bella – and rain macs, which they would only wear if I let them take their Mickey and Minnie Mouse head bands.

    After stopping for snacks in a nearby Sainsbury’s Local, the next challenge was one I had been dreading – Green Park tube station during rush hour. Not to mention the very long walk to the Piccadilly line from the Jubilee. I tried the creative approach; “it’s like a long catwalk and you guys are the fashion models in your cool wellies and Mickey and Minnie ears.” Bella looked at me in mock disgust as Ralph yelled, “Stop being so silly, Mum, you sound ridiculous.”

    It was a relief to finally be at Le Méridien hotel, where the show was taking place. By this point my twinnies were grumpy and cross, but thankfully they were fascinated by the show. When I told them Paul Costelloe hand-painted all his designs they were in genuine awe. Backstage was a real treat as they were greeted warmly by Paul himself. Bella sneakily touched the dresses she had just seen on the catwalk, as Ralph showed off his Disney headgear. Then the inevitable happened – a twin tantrum. Apparently Ralph stamped on Bella’s boot, so Bella kicked him. Apologising as I ushered them out, Paul laughed: “It’s fine! They are in the right place for tears and tantrums.”

    With Paul Costelloe
    With Paul Costelloe

    After a taxi trip home, I seriously considered making this a one-day-only thing. But our next adventure was a daytime one and set to be much more relaxed – or so I’d hoped. After walking in the wrong direction for what seemed like hours (thank you, super-helpful tube staff), we finally arrived at the Palmer Harding presentation.

    My mini fashionistas took their seats as models circled the room and stopped to pose at different intervals. As I studied the looks of concentration on their faces, I felt my chest swell with pride. Just then, Bella broke the silence and I’m certain it was within earshot of the designer. She turned to her brother and said, “That poor, beautiful lady she must be sooo tired. What a horrible job!” Her brother’s deadpan contribution was just as excruciating: “Maybe she didn’t get the catwalk job Bella… everybody has to work.”

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    The following day’s fashion adventure at the Designer Showrooms started off much more brightly. Antonio at Pret A Manger even gave us a free chocolate croissant, and promised more in return for the twins’ word that they would pass on his phone number to all the pretty fashion models. His jolly banter put us all in a good mood. Armed with the accessory of the day – talking Woody and Jessie dolls – off we headed to Brewer Street Car Park in Soho.

    Finally this felt like Fashion Week. The twins marvelled at the many photographers snapping away, capturing the diverse street styles. They happily posed for photographs of their own with other fashion bloggers and they loved the commotion being made by the anti-fur protestors. I had a proud mummy moment when Bella stood up and declared, “But they are right, mummy, grown-ups should not wear animals so I am on their side. That’s so mean.” Ralph saw this as an opportunity to drop in his new word of the week: “Maybe they are just weirdos.”

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    At the Mabylline make-up counter
    At the Maybelline make-up counter

    Just as I had imagined, the kids loved the Designer Showrooms – there was so much to see and do, and best of all they could fill up their free Fashion Week tote bags with the unlimited supply of popcorn.

     

    After trying on hats at Stephen Jones Millinery, Pop watches at Swatch, an oversized bomber from Teatum Jones and getting style tips from designer Angel Chen, the pair enjoyed some pampering at Maybelline and hair styling from their new BFF at the Toni & Guy stand. In the press lounge they were delighted when a fashion editor not only complemented them on their light-up shoes, but told them models also wore light-up shoes at one of the shows.

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    And then, right on cue, one of Ralph’s light-up shoes stopped working. There was no way I could even attempt to leave the press lounge without charging it up – his street cred was at stake here. But with the USB lead not working and Bella getting annoyed at her fruitless efforts to feed popcorn to the “rude and silly” Jessie, it was definitely time to head home. I even got to carry three London Fashion Week totes – two of which were stuffed with bags of popcorn and several copies of the Evening Standard magazine.

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    The last day of our fashion week was the much-anticipated Ashish show. This was magical for many reasons – the twinkling fairylights set the tone for a show I was certain my babies would never forget. Known for his bold statements in fashion, Ashish celebrated diversity in its most beautiful form. What may have seemed controversial, or at the very least thought-provoking in an adult world – models with faces painted like deities, men in ball gowns and tiaras, and even a snake – just seemed natural in my children’s eyes. It showcased a treasure trove of dress-up clothes, guilt-free playfulness and a belief that with the right accessories you can be anyone you want to be. Bella and Ralph joined the crowd and cheered delightfully.

    As I tucked my happy and excited cherubs into bed, I felt glad they had a chance to experience this adventure which undoubtedly opened up their minds to the fun and excitement grown-ups can have. My darling son soon interrupted my dreamy thoughts when he suddenly jumped up from his bed, “Oh no, mummy! We forgot to get that model’s telephone number for Antonio. She won’t get her chocolate croissant now!”

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    Follow Bella and Ralph at @bellaandralph_
    Photography courtesy of Tas Khatun