As fashion month has officially arrived we thought it only right to get advice from one of the industry's most esteemed professionals, Harrods' Fashion & Buying Director: Lydia King. Having spent over a decade working as Buying & Merchandising Director for Selfridges before having recently moved on to take on her prestigious new role at Harrods, we can't think of a better authority on fashion to speak to as we prepare for fashion week.
Harpers BAZAAR Arabia: Did you always want to work in the fashion industry?
Lydia King: I grew up poring over magazines, before the digital age these magazines and a TV show called ‘The Clothes Show’ were the closest you could get to an insider view of fashion, but yes I always had a passion for the industry.
HBA: How did you get to where you are today as Fashion & Buying Director of Harrods?
LK: I started my career in the industry in Fashion PR, representing a handful of luxury brands at an agency before moving across to Buying. My entry role was at Harvey Nichols then I worked my way up through the ranks at Selfridges for over a decade, before taking on my current position as fashion director at Harrods.
HBA: Fashion month is calling how do you prepare for the non-stop month of shows, socialising, and outfits?
LK: I can’t say it isn’t stressful planning outfits for a month of shows but it’s also a time of great creativity and experimentation, seeing how everyone brings the catwalk looks to life is incredibly inspiring. We buy so far in advance that I usually have earmarked the pieces I want to buy before they come into store, I mix this with timeless favourites that don’t go out of fashion and of course I ensure that I am always dressing for the weather.
HBA: You attend fashion weeks globally, where is your favourite destination?
LK: It is so hard to choose just one, they are all amazing cities. I love travelling and discovering new places, inspiration comes not only from the collections we see but from other stores, museums and cafes, each city has such a different experience. We have just finished the Haute Couture shows in Paris for AW20 which were absolutely exquisite, the level of craftsmanship and design is always awe inspiring.
HBA: What three items do you always take in your handbag when attending shows and talks?
LK: Sunglasses, red lipstick and snacks! There is never time for lunch, so we make sure to snack in the car during the busy show schedule.
HBA: Packing wise – what outfit essentials will you be bringing?
LK: I have some beautiful new Bottega pieces - a gorgeous trench and the new Cassette bag in racing green. There is lots of amazing tailoring this season so I will be wearing separates, I’m lucky enough to have an office in the centre of Harrods so I have a few looks from designers planned from Loewe, and Prada through to Rejina Pyo, Nanushka and our other many amazing contemporary brands. Monochrome is my go-to, I usually migrate back to black and white.
HBA: What is something about fashion week only an insider would know that would shock those who have never been?
LK: It’s a mixture of the lowest and the highest levels of glamour, the first flight out to any given city will be full of the entire industry, even at 6.40am to catch the first show. Pyjamas have even been spotted before! The shows always run late, then there is a huge rush at the end to find your driver and get to the next one on time.
Also, for every catwalk there is a showroom which presents the entire collection plus additional styles that were possibly edited out of the final show, these styles are absolute gems that our customers will love, and we end up buying a mixture of both.
HBA: Top pinch me moment at fashion week?
LK: We haven’t started Fall-Winter yet but for Spring-Ssummer, J-Lo walking the finale at Versace was an amazing and unforgettable moment.
HBA: What trends are you hoping will make a return on runway?
LK: The recent rise in chic, glamourous fashion has been so wonderful as each collection is so diverse. We love opulent colours and fabrics at Harrods and are so pleased to welcome it into our store. The tonal neutrals trend has also been received incredibly well by our customers and at the other end of the spectrum amazing, statement dresses are always incredibly popular. At Harrods, we are known for eveningwear and this year we will be doubling the size of the department so the more fabulous the dress, the better.
HBA: What shows are you most excited to see?
LK: I can’t possibly say! Some of the fun is that the shows that you sometimes look forward to aren’t always the highlights and with every fashion week comes a surprise. Issey Miyake last season was a visual spectacle with models on skateboards or being dressed on the runway. It was so creative and upbeat.
HBA: Heels or flats at fashion week?
LK: Both! It depends entirely on the outfit.
HBA: How much does fashion week influence your buy for Harrods?
LK: Hugely, our customers are connected to the industry and their favourite brands through social media and we respond to our customer requests by ensuring we have all of the hottest products alongside high quality brands, styles and fabrics that will stand the test of time.
HBA: Which fashion weeks will you be attending next month?
LK: I will be attending the full house, Copenhagen, NY, London, Milan, Paris and Qatar!
HBA: Do you think as the modest fashion movement is making a progression in the UK?
LK: Yes definitely, the move towards chic, elegance and building an iconic wardrobe entwines very well with the move towards modest styling.
Images courtesy of Harrods