Justine Fairgrieve, 40, is CEO and founder of RelativeMO, one of the biggest fashion PR companies in the country. She lives in South Woodford with her six-year-old son, Jackson, and their dog, Riley
I look after the PR for designers including Giles Deacon, Erdem, Julien Macdonald and Christopher Kane, so London Fashion Week (LFW) is my busiest time. My job is to organise the shows and parties for the designers – ensuring the most influential fashion editors and celebrities are there – and to buffer the designers from the rest of the world during their big week.
Ten days before LFW I go into ‘lock down’ and my normal life ceases to exist. I’m a single mum so I drop Jackson with his dad Ashley and stay at my friend Natalie’s house. She lives near central London, which is a godsend when I’m at parties five nights in a row.
This year, my craziest day is Monday 20 September. I’ve got an Erdem show at 1.30pm, a Giles show at 7.30pm, then an Erdem and Matches.com dinner. But in, scrabbling around for chairs, even mopping floors when I have to.
I grab a cup of black coffee from backstage but there’s never much food around so if I’m desperate, I’ll pop out and grab a bacon sandwich around 10am. During LFW I rely on junk. Then I’ll check on the designer and calm their nerves. The atmosphere backstage varies from nervous to electric. Everywhere you look, models are having their make-up done or being dressed.
It’s my job to police the guest list. Agents, journalists and talent bookers request tickets months in advance, but people always turn up unannounced. They barge to the front of the queue, everyday is frantic. I’ll get up at 7am, throw on my jeans, grab my iPhone and run out the door. I take a taxi to the venue (this year one of our shows is on the old Eurostar platform at Waterloo) where I brief my team. Top of the list is making sure the right people – editors such as Anna Wintour and Carine Roitfeld and celebrities like Emma Watson – are on the front row and we have the correct number of seats for everyone attending. I always get stuck yelling, “I’m on the list. I booked my tickets with Justine!” I always reply, “I’m Justine and your name isn’t here.”
I’m lucky that Emma Watson seems to like my events, but every year we have at least two celebrity nightmares. Last year I was told Kanye West was coming to one of our shows. I didn’t think he’d show, so I put someone else in his seat. Then, after the show began, I got a call saying he’d arrived. I had to frantically move the people in his seats and sneak him from backstage into the front row.
After the show, which surprisingly lasts only 15 minutes, I run backstage and coordinate the designer’s interviews. It’s my job to make sure they aren’t overloaded when they probably haven’t slept in days.
If there’s another show, I’ll go to the next venue and do the whole process again, checking style.com on the way for instant reactions to the last one. Then I’ll go back to the office in east London.
I need half an hour at my desk to gather my thoughts before I re-apply my make-up and travel to one of the many Fashion Week parties, where I network and make sure any celebrities are happy. Despite her reputation,
Anna Wintour’s easy to deal with. Her people phone ahead so you know when she’ll be there. It’s the ones who call just before dinner starts and ask to come who make my life hell.
The best party we’ve ever thrown was for Christopher Kane in 2007. He’d just done Fashion Rocks with Beth Ditto and she was amazing. Café de Paris was packed out, Kate Moss was there and everywhere I looked people were having a great time.
Being away from Jackson is the hardest thing about Fashion Week. My job means saying no a lot and I have to be quite hard sometimes, but Jackson puts everything in perspective.
The parties finish around 1am and I head to Shoreditch with my team for the biggest cheeseburger I can find. I roll into bed around 3am, knowing that in four hours I’ll be doing it all again.
Stylist visited Justine at the RelativeMO offices in Shoreditch, east London. Want a guided tour? Click on Work Space.
Pictures: Gemma Day