So there I was, in the bosom of style greatness, surrounded by aesthetic alumni and fashion royalty. I was in the new spiritual home of the highly successful designer fashion retailer, Matches. No. 23 Welbeck Street, Marylebone, London, is the enviable address that is designed to host what Matches term "quietly glamorous events" and I was at one of them.
Ruth Chapman, founder of Matches, dressed impeccably in this season's essential trouser suit by Alexander McQueen, spoke to her chosen few along side Grazia's executive fashion and beauty director, Charlie Miller. They generously bestowed their knowledge upon us. We were transfixed by words and phrases that we must become familiar with if we want to approach the new season with any kind of conviction; brutalism, industrialism, Futurama, (the cartoon?) laser-cut, plasticized, something to do with bolts. Uber fashion warrior and journalist, Angela Buttolph was there too, asking these fonts of fashion questions for those of us who were unable to articulate what we really wanted to know.
As a lapsed fashionista I found myself unfamiliar with some of the names of the new pioneers but that didn't matter. The old excitement that used to be so familiar to me when I worked as a reporter on the catwalk shows, in London, Milan, Paris and New York, surrounded by clicking cameras and flashing lights returned. I once again felt a part of the fashion fraternity.
Back in before 2000BC (before child), in my capacity as a fashion TV producer and reporter, I had access to both designers and their celebrity clients. Often the access wasn't authorised but I got my soundbites nonetheless. To me, fashion reporting was something I would have done whether anyone was interested in viewing or not. I had to get backstage, to chat to the designers, to feel the fabrics, to marvel at the cut, to hear the fashion editor's opinion. I had talk to the celebs that came to watch but it never occurred to me to ask them about their latest role/ single/ squeeze /shame. I was only interested in what they thought about the collection of which they had a front row view. Often, they were too busy hoping they would be the front page story and not be upstaged by a remarkable bit of tailoring.
I had forgotten the buzz of being there and watching a fashion moment. And to me, listening to Ruth and Charlie talking so passionately and being so informed about the new season and having the opportunity to see and touch these exquisite pieces made me realise that this too was a fashion moment. The moment that those designs are introduced to the clients in their wearable forms; the chance to touch and feel those catwalk creations that always feel at arm's length and somehow unreal; the skill of interpreting catwalk looks into coherent trends. I wanted to buy, buy, buy.
Inviting clients to special fashion events has become more popular throughout all strata of the fashion retail. Is it an antidote to that "add to basket" culture? It has obviously been recognised that the discerning fashion follower may need more than the shop experience to tempt them away from the internet. And let's face it, being handed a cardboard box couriered to your door by a sweaty driver brandishing an inkless pen and scribbling on a plastic screen just isn't that glamorous.
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