Diving headfirst into the frigid heart of January, London Fashion Week isn’t just a spectacle of fashion; it’s a battlefield where brands, big and small, vie for the spotlight. But here I was, a fashion aficionado with a penchant for the opulent and the dramatic, ready to make my mark. Not with a collection of haute couture, but with something as mundane yet iconic as an umbrella. Why an umbrella, you ask? Well, it’s London, darling – where rain is more a fashion accessory than a weather condition. And in the midst of this stylish tempest, I found my muse.

With the success of MenStyleFashion.com, thanks to our audacious umbrella move, and our burgeoning dominance on social media, the BFC, in a move as predictable as the changing seasons, began to exhibit what could only be described as a high school-esque form of bullying. This wasn’t the collaborative spirit that fashion preaches. This was fear—fear of the new, fear of change, fear of losing control. Like a modern-day Pharaoh, they wielded their power with a heavy hand, attempting to erect walls high and thick around the sacred sanctum of London Fashion Week to keep me and my brand out.

Their tactics were not subtle. They whispered into the ears of fashion designers, infected them with a bias, ensuring I was blocked from entering any event associated with London Fashion Week. It was as if they believed by quashing one woman’s voice, they could silence the evolution of fashion itself. The irony was palpable—fashion, the industry built on the pillars of creativity, innovation, and breaking boundaries, now seemed intent on preserving a status quo that saw no room for someone like me.

Gracie Opulanza MenStyleFashion London Fashion Week

Imagine strutting down the cobbled streets of London, the city’s historic architecture forming a stark backdrop against the grey skies, armed with nothing but an umbrella.

But not just any umbrella. This one bore the bold insignia of MenStyleFashion.com, my brainchild and testament to my love for the male sartorial art.

It was my audacious bid to stand out in a crowd, makeup adorned with the likes of David Gandy, Dermot O’Leary, and Tinie Tempah – icons who themselves could turn heads with a mere flick of their coats.

After this event, I went home and created HASTAG, MenStyleFashion #weshowyouhow

As MenStyleFashion carved its niche in the annals of fashion history, it became clear that we were not just building a brand; we were igniting a movement. A movement that challenged the status quo, that celebrated the underdog, and most importantly, that reminded the guardians of tradition that fashion is, and always will be, about evolution.

Gracie Opulanza - Lavazza - London Collections Men 2014

The idea was simple yet outrageously bold. In the infancy of MenStyleFashion.com, when we were the underdogs of the fashion world, we needed to bark louder, shine brighter. What better stage than the London Fashion Week, where every eye is searching for the next big thing, the next trend, the next person to watch? My umbrellas were not just rain-shielding devices; they were billboards, declarations of presence, challenging the status quo with a blend of utility and unabashed branding.

Oh, the looks I received! From curiosity to admiration, and let’s not skirt around the deliciously scandalized whispers that followed my every step.

The likes of GQ magazine and the British Fashion Council shot glances that were a cocktail of envy, astonishment, and, dare I say, a smidge of marketing rage. My umbrellas, seemingly innocuous, had struck a chord, turning the spotlight onto MenStyleFashion.com with the precision of a well-aimed spotlight.

So, let them try to ban me, to block me, to bully me. With every attempt, they only add to the legend of MenStyleFashion, a brand that not only rattled the foundations of London Fashion Week but also stood tall, like a lighthouse, guiding those who believe in the power of innovation and the spirit of defiance.

Gracie Opulanza - Lavazza - London Collections Men 2014

But, as with any tale of daring do, there’s always a twist. The very next day, whispers of a private meeting among the high and mighty of the fashion council reached my ears. The agenda? To ban Gracie Opulanza and her band of merry umbrellas from infiltrating any further into the sacred halls of fashion shows, catwalks, or events. It seemed my audacious move, a mere twenty umbrellas strong, had caused an uproar so potent it could have rivalled the drama of a high-fashion runway show.

MenStyleFashion.com wasn’t just a website or a brand; it was a beacon for those who dared to dream differently. Our umbrella stunt, which had started as a mere whisper in the cacophony of fashion week, had now become a thunderous roar, echoing through the halls of fashion’s highest temples. This wasn’t just about making a statement anymore. It was about standing up to the giants, proving that innovation cannot—and will not—be stifled by the fear-driven efforts of those who wield their power unwisely.

Come In Loud Building Your Brand

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the irony. There I was, Gracie Opulanza, now akin to Mary Poppins in their eyes, ready to fly away on a gust of wind, propelled not by magic but by the sheer force of marketing ingenuity.

My umbrellas, which had opened under the drizzly London sky, were now a symbol of defiance, a cheeky nod to the traditionalists who perhaps had forgotten that fashion, at its core, is about making a statement, causing a stir, and, above all, having fun.

But here’s the thing about creativity—it cannot be contained, and innovation, much like water, will find its way through the cracks. The attempts by the BFC to ban me for life only fueled my resolve. It was clear; not everyone will throw confetti on your parade. Some, faced with the unfamiliar glow of success in others, choose to douse it with the darkness of their insecurities. Yet, it’s in these moments of adversity that true brands are forged.

Gracie Opulanza - Lavazza - London Collections Men 2014

This escapade was more than just a guerrilla marketing stunt; it was a lesson in brand building. It taught me that sometimes, to get noticed, you need to do more than just show up – you need to create a spectacle. And it doesn’t have to be with something as extravagant as a diamond-encrusted gown or a fleet of luxury cars. Sometimes, all it takes is an umbrella on a rainy London day.

Through this adventure, I learned the power of humor, the strength in audacity, and the undeniable truth that fashion should always be an expression of joy and passion. So, to those who dream of making their mark in the fashion world, remember this: whether you’re holding an umbrella or a couture gown, make sure it’s a reflection of who you are and what you stand for.

Because at the end of the day, the brands that leave a lasting impression are those that dare to dance in the rain, with or without an umbrella.

Navigating the gilded lanes of London Fashion Week with my umbrella arsenal was akin to unleashing a butterfly in a conservatory; it was bound to attract attention, both admiring and envious. But as the next season unfurled, it became evident that the ripples caused by my modest yet impactful stunt had turned into waves, crashing against the established shores of the British Fashion Council (BFC). What ensued was not a tale of admiration or a challenge accepted with grace. Instead, it morphed into a saga of resistance, of David against Goliath, but in the world of fashion, where scissors and sketches replaced slingshots.

In the end, it’s not just about umbrellas or fashion weeks. It’s about the indomitable spirit of creativity, the unyielding power of passion, and the undying belief that no matter how big the Pharaohs of the world may seem, they too, can be faced down with nothing more than an umbrella and a dream.