Beauty and the beasts

A few years ago, I found myself at London fashion week. 

I certainly wasn't in the front row, but I could clearly see the faces on the other side of the catwalk, familiar from the pages of high-end glossy fashion magazines. Among them was the renowned ice-queen Anna Wintour, the editor of US Vogue. Her face was an unsmiling mask of groomed perfection, the white glare of the catwalk reflecting in her glittering dark glasses.

The atmosphere was high and tight as we all sat perched on tiny seats, casting quick, sideways glances at each other. At one end of the catwalk, a literal heap of photographers lay in wait. Many of them were balancing on precarious ladders with enormous, heavy and expensive-looking equipment slung about their bodies.

Finally, with an explosion of light and a roar of music, the models emerged and began to pound down the runway. They were wearing gossamer light, ghostly clothes that floated and rippled against their long and lean limbs.

But I was shocked at how young and fragile the girls appeared. They were like fawns freshly captured from the forest – idealised examples of unspoiled glossy beauty, stalking like herons on their delicate, stilt-like legs. They were marching straight towards the slavering jaws of the wolf-like pack of photographers, and in response, the flash bulbs feverishly popped and flickered in a relentless, blazing barrage.

Very quickly, it was all over. All around me, people were getting up and clambering out of their seats, while I sat for a moment longer, trying to absorb the experience.

It's something that's stayed with me – that interesting and slightly disturbing dichotomy of vulnerability, dressed up and presented as fierce bravado.

Pearl

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