Art of Style

How NET-A-PORTER’s fashion director packs for show season

NET-A-PORTER fashion director Kay Barron occasionally likes to add a pop of color – usually red – to her “strict” fashion-week uniform

With physical fashion shows returning in earnest this season, industry insiders across the globe are preparing to pack their bags once again and set off to New York, London, Milan and Paris in search of SS22’s most exciting new designers and cult-worthy pieces. Chief among them is NET-A-PORTER fashion director Kay Barron, who is not only excited to see what this new chapter of fashion looks like, but also to be recapturing the magic of what has made the runway show such an enduring format. “I am looking forward to getting back to shows, ideally not to the number and size of the ones previously – but a digital show, no matter how great, can’t compare to the excitement and ambience of a physical show,” she says. For Barron, it’s impossible to put the appeal down to just one factor. “It’s the venue, the music; no livestream can truly translate a designer’s vision the way a show can. On the front row, you can get a true sense of the fabrics, an up-close look at intricate detailing and really see how each piece moves as it sashays down the runway.” Of course, this return to the front row also requires an enviable wardrobe and precision packing skills, both of which Barron has in abundance. Read on to discover her five fail-safe rules for crafting the perfect capsule suitcase…

Start with a chic case

“Investing in stylish luggage by heritage labels such as RIMOWA is essential. This luggage will last you a lifetime and makes the task of packing and unpacking a lot more enjoyable. Honestly!”

Identify your signatures

“I have a strict uniform that consists of denim, leather and a little bit of tailoring, almost always in blue denim, black and white but, occasionally, I’ll add a pop of color, too – usually red. This formula has remained unchanged for more years than I care to acknowledge – and fashion week is no exception. I basically love anything and everything by JW Anderson and Saint Laurent.”

l-r: Barron wears a leopard-print coat with a black cross-body bag; a denim jumpsuit with black pumps; beige linen pants with a black T-shirt and sandals

Learn to streamline

“I always used to be an over-packer, but years of the ‘heavy luggage’ tag of shame has forced me to rethink my ways. I have my favorite go-to pieces, and I now know better than to take lots of items that I ‘might’ wear, as I never do in the end. Many of my clothes have traveled the world, only to see the inside of a suitcase, closet and suitcase again – so I have finally learnt to edit.”

Amp it up

“While the foundation of my look remains the same during show season, I might add a new coat for the winter shows or great jacket during fall. I also dial up the sartorial drama by adding statement jewelry and accessories. My top tip? When I’m feeling tired, I always add a red lip to my look. It’s a fail-safe way to disguise long days – and long nights.”

Think ahead

“I’m not so meticulous that I plan every outfit in advance, but it does save time to plan a few – and I always pack a trusted look that I know will make me feel confident if I am having an off day. I lay everything out the night before, roughly put together three looks, and then I edit pieces out. I now know I don’t need nine pairs of shoes for five days – I need three or four, tops. Great high heels that work for every occasion are my fashion week go-to when it comes to footwear. Although I have recently discovered how comfortable and flattering kitten styles can be, too.”