I sat nervous with excitement and, if I’m being truthful, cried when I saw my first international fashion show. Seven rows from the FROW (that’s front row), I had made it. A modern-day theatre with dimmed lights, incredible music and DVF – it was where the world’s most powerful industry insiders came out to work (and play). When the looks came on to the catwalk, people would sketch the designs, take the odd photograph or circle the outfit numbers in their programme, highlighting what they loved or wanted to buy for Bergdorf’s. That was then. Fast-forward nearly two decades and fashion week, as I experienced it, is dead.
Trust me, if you go to any fashion show around the world today it is as much about the pre-show/front row/celebrity/backstage/post-show and parties as it is the designs. If a PR tells me: “Oh, you can get an interview backstage after the show,” the deal is off. No way am I going to fight through gaggles of bloggers, street-style photographers and hangers-on to get a quote that a designer has pre-prepared for the masses.
More often than not the interview never happens as the designers just can’t handle the hordes of people that are now granted access backstage. It seems that I am not the only one who has become disenchanted with what the fashion week world has become. Catherine Bennett, senior vice president and managing director for IMG (organisers of fashion weeks worldwide), told the Wall Street Journal that New York Fashion Week was “becoming a zoo”. And living legend Oscar de la Renta also commented: “These mega-shows are out of hand. There are too many shows in New York. There are too many shows, too many designers, too many people.” I knew I loved Oscar de la Renta for reasons other than his gorgeous gowns. At his S/S14 shows, Mr de la Renta slashed his seating plan from 632 (the previous season) to 350 seats. The reason? “It’s so much better for the clothes to be looked at closely and by true professionals, journalists or buyers,” he declared.
Well, it seems that the organisers are taking note, with IMG being the first to make halls at different sizes come February 2014. These ‘intimate’ halls will be hold shows that make invitations, as an IMG representative put it, “once again an exclusive pass for true fashion insiders.” Well, one can only hope.