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23 April 2013

Look, don't touch

Ask me what my favorite thing about fashion is, and I’ll tell you it’s the fact you can wear it. It seems obvious, doesn't it? However sometimes I feel we lose sight of the distinction between art and fashion. In order to validate a sartorial inclination, we feel ourselves pressured to link it to art as opposed to appreciating it's individual virtues. People always assume an interest in fashion stems from a love of art but in fact the two, for me, are separate. I appreciate couture and the work of more obscure designers, but clothes that I could walk outside wearing on an everyday basis are my true heroes, call me old school if you want. Whichever way you look at it, wearability is an art in itself; it separates traditional views of art from the individual nature of fashion and truly celebrates that disparity.

I’ve done a couple seasons at London Fashion Week now and the shows are magical, the atmosphere is unparalleled. Despite this, the first show I ever attended is always set in the back of my mind. It was an off schedule, up-coming designers show around the theatre district. The show itself was held in a small ballroom, even in the back row I was 10 feet away from the models, almost able to reach out and feel the gauze of the dresses and silk blouses. That intimacy with a collection is something I admire, finding yourself close enough to truly connect with the clothes and embrace the details. Arguably the sum of details make a show- how could you possibly stand to miss them? A button and mismatched seam in a dress are the nuts and bolts of the industry.

Lately I’ve noticed the rise of huge, vacumous venues chosen by more established designers, the increase in 'acceptable' guests (read: celebrities, bloggers, more industry insiders and a surge of online fashion website) causing a demand for thousands upon thousands of seats. Traditionally these houses are iconic, masters of detail and true to their passion for clothing. Their ready to wear shows often live up to that title should you have sufficient funds, and that’s an admirable trait. Yes, the clothes are accessible, but what of the unfathomably large, stark show spaces? I’m all for a more-the-merrier approach to fashion and it’s inclusion of new areas within the industry, but how connected to a collection can you feel when it’s 100 feet away from you, riding away on an escalator before you're able to take it in? Where is the magic in that? Is there any real point in attending a show if you have to rush back to later to truly admire the details of it through a photograph? The effect certainly isn’t the same, regardless of the resolution of a live stream. If I wanted to be separated from beautiful clothing I could simply turn up to Harrods shirtless and weep as they escorted me out the back door. These gigantic venues distance you from the very thing you wish to embrace, framing the clothes like art and tainting the idea of ‘ready to wear’.

It would make sense, after months of meticulously planning and sketching that a designer might want an eager audience to truly appreciate their work. Maybe we've become so caught up in the 21st century approach of 'bigger is better' that we can no longer appreciate intimacy during a fashion show. The large venues are powerful, you'd be hard pressed to find a museum of turbines not overwhelming, though I can't help but wander if that's really the point of a show. Perhaps it’s impossible to please the masses and still retain a personal connection to the clothes on display? More worryingly, it seems we’ve lost sight of which is more important.

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  1. very nice collage dear!! :) and i totally understand you, really know what you wanted to say by this post, i love your post like this :)

  2. Clothes -in my opinion- should be made with to be worn and like you, the ones that im most impressed by are the ones i can see people/myself in xx

  3. I'm normally a skimmer of blogs and just look for the photos, but you're writing makes me laugh and think at the same time, and that ability seems to be scarce these days. I truly admire your writing (and of course your style) And it's true, connection to the piece is critical and it seems cut short these days. x

  4. so true!

    Did you already participate in my giveaway? You can win Nike Freeruns in a color of choice on my site :)

  5. Lovely post. I think the 'bigger and better' phrase is what's taken over a lot of fashion, everyone just wants to be the next big thing, have the best show and the best people there. And I guess that comes with the venue a lot of the time!

  6. I think it's all part of the democratization of fashion - which is great if you're a celebrity or blogger who is growing their brand or charging appearance fees - maybe not so great if you're nostalgic for the days when it was a more intimate. Everything changes - nothing stays the same, fashion like everything else is evolving. There will however, always be up and coming artists that cannot afford the circus and will host smaller more intimate shows. Maybe we can veer away from the spectacle of high end luxury brands and look to the new guard for inspiration and to fulfill our hunger for something-a-bit-different.

    ♥ Paula Shoe Fiend.

  7. I love how you express your thoughts! Great post!

    Carly's Closet

  8. I think you are right. I have never been to fashion week but the first picture you showed above, I thought at first that it was a concert! The aim of a fashion show should be to admire the clothes but how can you admire them from that far away? I think that a fashion show nowadays is like performance of fashion and if the designer wants to make a big show, he should include a big screen with the details so people can see it better, that way more people can be in a presentation but there should also be a separated and smaller show where selected people is closer to the runway to see the designer's work better, like the old days.
    (excuse my writing mistakes, I don't speak English as a first language)

    Fashionably Sparkly

  9. Interesting post - I actually did my university dissertation around this idea. Designers tend to want to outdo each other, have the biggest names on their front row, and to make their shows bigger, better and therefore more memorable. Space and size is just one way of achieving this, but think too of Dior coating the walls with flowers, Chanel importing icebergs and Louis Vuitton's carousel and train. I agree that making the showspaces so vast does take away the charm and emotion of the clothes, but a lot of the time the designer wants us to remember the 'whole show' and not just specific pieces. It's such a shame though, as it should really be about the clothes.

    Loes x

  10. I love reading your article type posts, they leave me with food for thought on topics I hadn't considered before.
    I agree completely though. The extravagance of a fashion show shouldn't be determined by the scale of the audience but by the quality of the designs. With such a large scale to cater for, it stops the consumer being able to consume the clothes which certainly takes away the true beauty to a fashion show.

    Briley x

  11. Amazing write up, I definitely agree with all the points you've raised! Even at Sydney fashion week, it was super un-organized anyone who had a camera were pushed to the back. I don't even remember some of the shows unless I look back to my photos.

  12. I literally don't understand how you're so smart for your age.

    This is an insanely introspective article, and having myself written about the distinction between fashion and art, I never came upon the realization that the two may in fact be fundamentally different.

    I considered fashion artwork that we conduct upon our own figures, but acknowledging the notion that fashion may not be art at all and actually a whole other aesthetic experience is really really ingenius.

    You're clearly leagues ahead of everyone in terms of how you think about your "sartorial inclinations" and their origins and effects.

    Thanks so much for getting me thinking, and keep doing what you're doing. your'e fantastic.


  13. Wow, the fashion show look so wonderful.


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