In the Moment: with Pandora Sykes
Isat behind Kanye West once at a Dries Van Noten catwalk show in Paris,” says Pandora Sykes, recalling one of her more surreal fashion week moments. “The swarm that surrounded him and Kim Kardashian later at the Balmain show was huge – my head of fashion Claudia Croft actually feared people might die.” Strikingly pretty and petite with a glowing complexion, Pandora is, as you’d expect, impeccably dressed: today in a Breton top, high-waisted black shorts and patent loafers.
The UK’s go-to fashion agony aunt thanks to her Sunday Times Style ‘Wardrobe Mistress’ column, Pandora also runs her own very successful blog, has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and has written for numerous other publications, from The Spectator to Company magazine – and she’s only 29.
Pandora is a fashion week regular and, despite the glamourous celeb sightings, the real excitement for her stems from seeing emerging designers. “That’s what it’s all about,” she says. “It’s finding the talent and championing and supporting them. I love the brand Shrimps [a British label that specialises in unique faux-fur pieces and is often seen on Alexa Chung]. I always look at the designer Hannah Weiland and think, you’re so young and your work is amazing, what am I doing?”
“I’m lucky enough to do lots of different things in my job like styling and creating shopping pages, but writing is my most powerful asset,”
she says. “It’s the only way I know how to leave a mark on anything, especially if I can bring an element of humour to it.” First and foremost a journalist, Pandora has always loved fashion and is keen to tackle the stereotypes that come with it: “I used to find the general attitude to be if you liked clothes, you couldn’t be clever, but luckily that is changing.”
Likewise, fashion week has evolved with the times, opening its doors outside the industry via social media and streaming live shows. “There’s an endless call for coverage now,” Pandora explains. “As an editor, you have to be in all the right places with your phone fully charged, which is terrifying because mine normally only lasts three hours.” This stress is also heightened by the scrutiny of street-style photography, with attendees constantly under pressure to look the part. “You don’t always look nice unless you’re a supermodel – and even then it can be a struggle due to the long hours. It’s exhausting.”
So what should normal, non-fashion people make of it all? “You have to take it with a pinch of salt,” she says. “What you see on the catwalk is art and that’s the point. It’s a heightened version of the trends, which will then be diluted to become more accessible on the high street. My advice would be to pick up on the things that work for you and your body shape – and most importantly, don’t panic!”