13 Sep 2010

5 Days to LFW: F&S speak to fashion insider Courtney Blackman

Courtney Blackman MD Forward PR & Co-Founder of FBC

What is your profession?
Well, first and foremost I am the founder & managing director of Forward PR, I’m the co-founder & co-chair of Fashion Business Club & executive producer of FBCtv, and I sit on the board of the Ethical Fashion Forum.

Who are your clients?
Forward PR looks after a varied gamut of fashion clients that range from ongoing long-term monthly clients to short-term project based ventures: -Art of Being by Elizabeth Emanuel – iconic British designer to Princess Diana returning to London Fashion Week with a Little Black Dress collection. - Beautiful Soul – upcyclers of vintage kimonos into multi-functional dresses, skirts, tops and outerwear. Sold at the V&A. -Drapers Fashion Summit 2010 – two-day event providing comprehensive and exclusive insight from top industry leaders within fashion. FASHION.MUSIC.STYLE – London-based, globally distributed fashion and indie music magazine. - Prophetik – sustainable men’s and womenswear label from Tennessee, designed by Jeff Garner. - Magenta 8 – specialise in coats, capes, jackets, boleros in baby alpaca. Rebekah Roy – renowned fashion and celebrity stylist working across fashion, music, editorial and television. - Sapphires Model Management – ethically focused and award-winning model agency based in Soho. - S.C. Vizcarra – 85-year-old luxury, hand-woven handbag label managed and designed by London- based Rita Nazareno. - WGSN Global Fashion Awards - the first awards to recognise innovation in fashion across all disciplines from around the world.

Courtney Blackman for FBCtv
What does LFW mean to you, your clients and how do your prepare for it?
London Fashion Week is the UK’s most important twice-yearly fashion event, and it just keeps getting better every year. Our clients operate on so many different levels of the industry, so it is really interesting to work with them all and the unique spaces that they occupy. Art of Being by Elizabeth Emanuel, and Prophetik are both doing catwalk shows, so there is so much work that goes into them from coordinating pre-show press, interviews, compiling the guest lists, doing the seating arrangements for the shows and on and on and on. We’re talking 16-hour days! But everyone’s working those hours now – ‘tis the season. For Beautiful Soul, they are creating their first film, which will launch during LFW or just before. I’m really excited for the brand. Nicola Woods, the designer and creative director is such an amazing person and when you speak to her, she actually glows – not kidding. FASHION.MUSIC.STYLE’s editor-in-chief, Sarah Hardy will be circulating at the shows in her capacity of press, looking out for trends and new labels that will suit the magazine. Magenta 8’s Giovanna Velasquez and S.C. Vizcarra’s Rita Nazareno will be going to shows, networking and picking up inspiration for next season, and Ian Warren and Neely Reyes of Sapphires Model Management will be preparing their models for show castings, booking them for shows, attending shows and scouting. Rebeka Roy will be going to New York to style the William Tempest show, then quickly hot-footing it back to London to style the Art of Being and Prophetik catwalk shows…and I will be at the epicentre of Forward PR making sure all runs smoothly!

What does your LFW schedule look like?
The Prophetik show kicks off the shows at Vauxhall Fashion Scout on Friday the 17th at 12pm, so on the first day of LFW, our call time will be 9am. We’ll rock VFS, then maybe go to some other shows in the afternoon, then on to the Prophetik after party that night at the Sanctum Roof Garden. Then it’s onto making sure the Art of Being by Elizabeth Emanuel show is all set. It’s an extremely high-profile event due to her past with the royals and her current roster of celebrity clients, so there are a lot of little details to consider as far as security, overall numbers and media allowances for both television and print. I’m not sure how many shows other than my own clients that I’ll personally get to, but I always like to go to a good few. It’s great to catch up with contacts in the queues! – and I’ll need to connect with other clients and make sure their LFWs are going well.

What is your favourite moment in a LFW day?
I love it at one of our own shows when the last look tucks in backstage and the designer comes out to everyone applauding and cheering – it’s exhilarating, an adrenaline rush and completely relieving! I also like running into people in general that I haven’t seen since the previous fashion week. It’s like a big reunion!

And trend wise what are you looking out for during LFW S/S 11?
On the catwalk: accessories, shoes, hemlines, fabrics, colours, hairstyles and make-up and on the street, the same and how the two will blend and fuse to usher in the new season’s overall feel and aesthetic.

Courtney Blackman with FBC co-founder Alison Whelan,
designer Jonathon Saunders & Dolly Jones, editor of Vogue.com

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