Gareth Cattermole, chief entertainment photographer for Getty Images, talks about photographing London Fashion Week – one of the world’s premier showcases for new fashion – from the front row of the catwalk to the backstage and beyond over the past sixteen years.
During Fashion Week we expect the usual front row celebrities, stylists, editors and influencers. Season to season it doesn’t really change and we are always on the lookout for interesting characters.
On this particular day it was of the animal variety. He caught my attention sitting casually front row during the Jean Muir show (2005), patiently watching each model walk past.
Trying to create distinctive and interesting imagery is a real challenge during Fashion Week because the schedules are so tight that you are often running from show to show. You push yourself to look for something that most people don’t see as they are focusing on the straightforward fashion photography – the clothing and the models.
Playing with shadows allows for an interesting angle during the shows like this image from J Maskrey in September 2003.
Each season it is important to look for new ways to tell the Fashion Week story and show people different angles and perspectives of what goes on. I use a multitude of techniques to produce creative imagery during the shows, showing something other than straight up and down catwalk fashion.
Here I have used multiple exposure and twisted the camera while it shoots to create a rotating model and lighting scene during the Jasper Conran show in 2013.
Sometimes you can take for granted how lucky you are to have a front row seat for some of the best fashion shows around the world, which most people are only able to watch online or on social media. As the years have gone on and technology progresses, it is interesting to see how guests engage and view the actual event. Over time this has evolved, and we see a shift from editors frantically scribbling in notebooks on the front row to viewing the show through their smart phones.
I love to look for these moments while the catwalk is happening, again looking for that different angle or moment not often witnessed.
The finales are an important aspect of the show; while ensuring we get every look and model, we also need to ensure we have great coverage of the finales. This is the culmination of all the hard work of the designers, models and the show itself.
This image from 2007 – taken during the finale of the Jasper Conran show – I really love. Jasper Conran is one of my favourite designers and I captured him embracing one of my favourite models, Lily Cole. I love the colours and the moment caught in between the red confetti as it falls through the air.
Something one of my favourite photographers Bill Cunningham once said was that “…the best fashion show is definitely on the street.” So, during London Fashion Week I love to spend a lot of my time outside the shows, shooting what goes on before and after each show as the guests mingle. To me it is the people and faces out on the street that I find most fascinating.
For this shot I turned to my love of portraiture to document these moments outside Somerset House in 2014.
Backstage before a show is an extremely busy and stressful time for the designers as they make the finishing touches to the looks, ensuring the models’ hair and make-up is complete. The buzz is electrifying and it is the perfect place to produce some interesting angles.
Here a model is reflected in a make-up artists’ mirror moments before the Huishan Zhang show in February 2019. Often backstage I try to keep out of sight as much as possible, blending in so I can capture more quiet, unobserved moments in the madness.
A big part of Fashion Week is the celebrity guests who are invited to the shows and quite a few make an appearance at the very last minute, right before the show is about to start. Most of the time you have absolutely no idea who will turn up, so it is important to keep one eye on the door and one on the start of the show.
Here Kanye West makes an appearance at the House of Holland show in 2009.
One of my favourite designers is Vivienne Westwood – the spectacle, the passion and the aesthetics all make for an amazing show to shoot. She is extremely welcoming to photographers backstage, so we can roam around and capture the buzz.
I captured her in this quiet moment in 2009 sitting down relaxing, eating her lunch, just before her show surrounded by her creations.
All photographs by Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images for the British Fashion Council.