An average day in Milan starts around 6am for writing, checking email & getting ready, but you can easily start an hour before that if you are an American magazine diva with uber grooming standards, (& if you are Anna Wintour you will be having your hair & makeup done professionally), followed by breakfast downstairs at 730am (39 Eur/$52) per head at the Grand et Milan in my day), unless I had a breakfast with a publicist. Then there is the totter out in five inch stilettos to climb into a black car (door held open by uniformed driver), idling on the pavement in a line of about 7 or so cars at 800 to take the editor to the first appt/meeting of the day.
You rely on your driver to keep you sane during the shows. There’s no time to eat if, like me in the past, you are part of a small team and therefore unable to spread show responsibilities amongst a team of editors (hence the importance of stuffing down large quantities of breakfast in manner of a grumpy dormouse filling its cheeks for the winter, although I expect that the nervy twiglets eschew breakfast for yoga or some such nonsense) so a good driver knows automatically to fill every spare pocket, door and niche (after all nature abhors a vacuum) in the car with sweeties, mini bottles of waters and tubes of Pringles.
Because that is all the nourishment you are getting till you eat at 10pm or later. (Can you imagine being in Italy and not having time to eat?) Some of the early morning shows lay on breakfast, if a Danish, espresso, glass of Champagne can be described as such, and you do actually see people eating — hell this is fashion, people eating is a noteworthy occurrence — because the show will inevitably run late and there is bugger all else to do except graze on carbs.
The key thing about covering the Milan shows is that it’s impossible to get to everything you need to see for your publication without a car and a driver. The shows are spread out all over the city and the public transport system doesn’t seem to go anywhere near the show venues. The shows are every hour and, often, two an hour, so you would never get to anything on time if you took the metro – or even the fashion bus. Average cost of a car & driver (including moderate overtime) for five days: EUR2000 ($2654). This is one reason you don’t get the hordes of freelancers & bloggers (including me, now) at the Milan shows.
But if there for a magazine, I advise holding out for a driver who speaks English: You try six days with an otherwise charming man who gets left and right confused continually – which is no joke when you exit a show in the rain with five hundred other people, all of whom are hunting for their identical black cars which are crawling in traffic to get to the venue, and you are tried, hungry & grumpy, fed up with being elbowed in the exit mêlée by pushy assistants & bodyguards, wearing silly shoes and a by now wet and see through diaphanous dress in which you totter down to the left hand corner 200 yards away to wait for the car, only to discover he meant right which is now 400 yards in the opposite direction…. And you do that ten times a day.
I am now remembering the shin splints from high heel wearing (technically having a driver means no walking or standing, but there’s always going to be waiting outside a venue by which time your driver has buggered off to eat panini & watch Inter kick soccer arse in some café for the next hour), and the continually rumbling tummy — take it from me, Haribo are not a nutritious or filling lunch — and the rain. It always bloody rains in Milan. And you can guarantee we’ll all be wearing something that doesn’t take kindly to wet. Feathers, silk frocks, suede open toe hooker shoes, vertiginous platforms that have no traction on rain sodden pavements.
But of course there is always the moment when something glorious happens and you get swept away on a tide of extraordinary and beautiful clothing that redefines the craft and you remember why you love your job.…
Part three to come…