Once I’d semi-mastered my “walk”, I grappled with the daunting concept of being in front of an audience, lined with rows of colleagues and industry peers. I considered not wearing my contact lenses, but for obvious reasons decided this wouldn’t be sensible. Instead, I attempted to channel tunnel vision as I walked. Tricky yes, but better than struggling to see.

Cut to the day before the show, at a fitting in OpéraSport’s airy studio with founders Stephanie Gundelach and Awa Malina Stelter – whom I’d met in London a few years ago at a dinner they hosted with Alva Claire – and I suddenly felt a little better about it all. Eni Subair, fashion features editor at Elle (and my former colleague at British Vogue) and GQ’s style projects editor, Itunu Oke, were also modelling in the show, and felt equally overwhelmed by the whole experience. (Vogue Scandinavia’s print editor, Allyson Shiffman, was another member of the model cast.)

BTS from the fitting.

The vibe at the fitting was calm and welcoming – we drank tea and cooed over Awa’s baby son as we looked through rails of clothes, moodboards and casting pictures. One at a time, we were each introduced to our looks. Eni changed into a cream ribbed dress with a ruffle detail snaking down the front, worn with vintage laser-cut boots and one of the brand’s signature scrunched bags. Itunu tried on several looks and pairs of shoes before Awa and Stephanie settled on a flowing semi-sheer robe with a frilled top beneath, worn with white vintage boots and a scrunch bag. Then we took fitting pictures of my look: a black ribbed dress with a cut-out shoulder, worn with vintage boots, which – thankfully – were easy to walk in. We all took our boots home to practice.

At 11pm, after doing laps of my hotel room in my boots, I heard Itunu – who was in the room above mine – testing hers out. I then proceeded to wake up every hour from 3am, filled with angst. 7:30am rolled around and I quickly showered, moisturised, grabbed the boots and went to meet Itunu and Eni in the lobby.

Itunu walking for OpraSport autumnwinter 2024.

Itunu walking for OpéraSport autumn/winter 2024.

James Cochrane

Eni walking for OpraSport autumnwinter 2024.

Eni walking for OpéraSport autumn/winter 2024.

James Cochrane

“I feel sick” was the phrase of the day, followed closely by “I can’t”, and, “why”. Drama aside, the mood backstage was far from chaotic. We got our hair and make-up done at a leisurely pace and met and chatted with other models. The nausea was real, though.

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