Front-row tick­ets to top cat­walk shows be­ing of­fered for sale for up to £5,000 each

The Guardian - - NATIONAL | LONDON FASHION WEEK - Ru­pert Neate

You might have thought that front row seats at Lon­don fash­ion week are re­served for the hottest celebri­ties, In­sta­gram trend­set­ters, trade buy­ers and jour­nal­ists such as Anna Win­tour. But a Guardian in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­veals that top seats to some of the world’s big­gest fash­ion la­bels’ cat­walk shows are be­ing of­fered for sale for as much as £5,000 each.

De­sign­ers sell­ing seats in the front row – known as ‘The Frow’ in the in­dus­try – in­clude Alice Tem­per­ley, a favourite of the Duchess of Cam­bridge, and Mary Ka­trant­zou, whose dresses have been worn by Michelle

Obama, Sarah Jes­sica Parker and Keira Knight­ley.

Ka­trant­zou, a Lon­don-based de­signer who sells cocktail dresses that cost £30,780 , is of­fer­ing front row tick­ets to her cat­walk show this evening for £5,000 each. Sarah Du­long, her se­nior sales ex­ec­u­tive, said: “We did [have tick­ets], but a few weeks ago. The tick­ets were sell­ing for £5,000 for the front row.”

When asked if the ticket buy­ers would need to have a knowl­edge of or in­ter­est in fash­ion, Du­long said: “Not par­tic­u­larly, no”. Later, a Ka­trant­zou spokesman said: “Mary Ka­trant­zou sell tick­ets to the show through the BFC [Bri­tish Fash­ion Coun­cil] Lon­don fash­ion week guest club pack­ages.”

BFC said the pack­ages of­fer an “ex­clu­sive op­por­tu­nity for your guests to be part of the se­lect few who ex­pe­ri­ence the phe­nom­e­non of this in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed fash­ion event”. It of­fers “uniquely daz­zling pack­age[s]” such as “glam­orous cham­pagne break­fasts”, pri­vate chauf­feurs and pre­views of forth­com­ing col­lec­tions. These start at £520 per per­son.

It also of­fers “front row seats at a stand­out Bri­tish de­signer cat­walk show plus the op­por­tu­nity to meet and greet the de­signer back stage af­ter the cat­walk show”. The cheap­est front row tick­ets cost £1,700 plus VAT.

SME Lon­don, the BFC’s cor­po­rate hos­pi­tal­ity part­ner, said it had tick­ets avail­able for Tem­per­ley Lon­don’s show tonight for £2,500. The SME rep­re­sen­ta­tive said the tick­ets in­cluded meet­ing Tem­per­ley af­ter the show. “The front row ex­pe­ri­ence is very much be­ing at the cen­tre of things with all the VIPs and celebri­ties and those in fash­ion,” the SME sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive said. Tem­per­ley did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

The BFC de­fended sell­ing front row tick­ets. Caro­line Rush, BFC chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “As a not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that sup­ports many young de­sign­ers, we of­fer hos­pi­tal­ity pack­ages that in turn en­ables us to of­fer a pre­mium show venue to emerg­ing de­sign­ers at a re­duced rate, or of­fer ad­di­tional in­come to those de­sign­ers that work with us on front row pack­ages, to off­set the costs of pro­duc­ing a cat­walk show.

“As you can imag­ine, the show seats, par­tic­u­larly front row, are in high de­mand and we only work with de­sign­ers that are able to ac­com­mo­date, hence the lim­ited amount avail­able.” Rush later said that the BFC had failed to sell any of the high price front row tick­ets.

The Guardian was also of­fered front row tick­ets to Vic­to­ria Beck­ham’s show to­mor­row for £5,000 each by a third­party. Beck­ham was not aware that tick­ets were of­fered for sale and said she has “cat­e­gor­i­cally not of­fered any hos­pi­tal­ity to the vb show”. Tick­et­ing com­pany Sin­cura has apol­o­gised to Beck­ham and stated that an em­ployee who of­fered the tick­ets was mis­taken.

Tony Baxter, di­rec­tor of Sin­cura, said: “We can con­firm that though we do have ac­cess to many shows, we have no ac­cess to Vic­to­ria Beck­ham’s fash­ion show.”

Sin­cura’s web­site also of­fers front row tick­ets for New York fash­ion week, in­clud­ing Calvin Klein for $5,500 and Os­car de la Renta for $4,400. Calvin Klein said it would take le­gal ac­tion against Sin­cura. A spokesman for Os­car de la Renta said: “There were no tick­ets to the show sold and to my knowl­edge that is not a prac­tice the brand em­ploys.”

‘The front row ex­pe­ri­ence is very much be­ing at the cen­tre of things‘ Sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive SME Lon­don

PHO­TO­GRAPH: DAVE BENETT/GETTY IM­AGES

Front row guests at the Turk­ish de­signer Bora Aksu’s Lon­don fash­ion week show yes­ter­day

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