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04 September 2013

Who wears the pants?

The front row at Chanel // ph. Google

NYFW is just around the corner and so fashion month begins, with a pop of champagne and a whole load of blister plasters. With this arrival of our favorite month (because let's face it, February fashion week is just much too cold for anyone to really enjoy) Oscar De La Renta has made a bold statement; he'll be openly reducing the number of people at his show, particularly those who won't directly influence the sale of his next collection (i.e celebrities and it girls). Tom Ford has already done something similar, going as far as to ban photography from his shows and make it an all business event as opposed to the circus that the majority of big named shows end up dissolving into. All this begs the question of who should be invited into shows? Buyers, of course. Editors? Duh. Family? Obviously. Bloggers? Within reason I am of course biased to believe so, though perhaps being more selective of this category is necessary. All we're really left with is celebrities dominating the front rows and storming through the crowds cursing photographers while striking a pose and prancing into the shows wearing the designers last seasons best hits as a note of respect. Perhaps I paint a negative picture and arguably this is what most of the industry does at fashion week, and perhaps, just maybe, that's just fashion week for you. I don't really believe that any group of attendees are completely guiltless of the above, and while in a sense Menkes may have had an underlying point in her much debated article, her ability to stereotype and generalize was quite spectacular. 

What I want to touch on is less my disdain over front rows packed with it girls while buyers are shoved back a couple rows, but this idea that by inviting celebrities to shows, the focus is immediately removed from the collection itself. Who wants to look at Valentino's next look when they can stare at Kanye West across the room and wonder why he is at a couture show when his last collection with A.P.C was just a reflection of his own sunday-best. Ok, ok, perhaps that isn't what you're thinking when a world famous person is seated mere feet from you, but it does beg a question. I remember last season a few celebrities were seated front row at Bora Aksu, the lights dimmed for the show to begin, but frantic photographers were lighting up the room with their blinding flash and repeatedly questioning their outfit choices for the day. The question shifted from what do the pants look like, to who is wearing them. Shows have in a sense become almost as much about what goes on on the catwalk as who happens to be seated right next to that catwalk, and where is the sense in that?

Shows should be about nothing but the clothes, right? Even the designer merely pops their head out at the end, leaving the clothes to linger in your mind and hopefully inspire buyers to pick the collection up. By that logic, buyers and editors should be front row, left right and center. Street style is key to fashion week, but leave it to the streets. It would be hard to invite Madonna to your show and seat her in the second row anyway, but by the same token doing the same thing to an industry professional seems obscene. Fashion week, though we may like to pretend it's a social gathering, is pure business. There is, of course, the argument that lest I see Alexa Chung donning a Fendi purse, I am less likely to buy it. In that respect I suppose you have a point, Celebrities do influence what we buy whether or not we like it. They have power and for that very reason, designers send them clothes they are subsequently papped in and the pages of Hello! reach a much wider audience than Vogue does. So if Ms Chung is seen in Hello, why must she also be seen at every single show too? The over riding number of it girls and 'oh so swag' rappers dominating that key area by the catwalk almost ridicules the collection. It takes away from the exclusivity that collections should always exude, the personality of a show can be lost because too many instagrams are aimed at the guests as opposed to the clothes.

Perhaps De La Renta is on the right track, taking the first step to limiting his guests well aware that while Madonna is an influence, she will not be stocking Barney's with the next big order. Dakota Fanning may be an on trend guest to invite but she certainly won't be dictating the fashion spread in the next Harpers Bazaar. So, why do designers feel a need to pack their shows with familiar faces when there are other, arguably more suitable, ways to attract attention to the clothes and use celebrities as a form of publicity. I would argue the same for bloggers but more often than not, we're happy to take standing room even if it is purely an excuse to use our zoom lens and feel a little more professional. I know plenty of bloggers who prefer the photographers pit. And even when given a front row seat at larger shows, it's always followed with a set of photos and a review of sorts, usually reaching a concentrated sartorially inclined audience. The issue is an ongoing one and I definitely think it's an issue of balance, finding the right amount of each group to cover the show and maintaining an absolute focus on whats on the runway, not what surrounds it. Next time someone asks you who wear the pants at fashion, I encourage you to simply reply 'Who cares?'

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  1. i loooove this article !!!! wll written babe

  2. perfect 1st row picture! love every single look!

  3. for me you have the reason baby....

    i want to share with you also the most special post of the year in my blog:

  4. I absolutely agree with your article! I do think there're many guests/celebrities who make a show more ridiculous than awesome because you see that some designers place value on someone like Katy Perry (dont want to offend her but I dont think shes famous for her good styling sense?). As always I enjoyed reading your article, your style of writing is just so catchy and clever, Camilla! X

  5. Brilliant article! I love how you wrote it. Well done! :)

  6. what a great read! a very interesting topic to discuss before the fashion weeks!
    I'm a little split. Do the buyers mind sitting behind Alexa Cheung? Or is it a turn off to buy?
    brilliantly written!

  7. this is an amazingly written article!! I completely agree it's ridiculous front rows are filled with well known celebrities but at the same time I understand why its necessary to boost the brands sales. Really, really good topic! X

  8. Love this article. It definitely touches on a topic that is fairly controversial in the Fashion World, I think. The designers themselves want to show off how popular their products are with the big names that take his/hers sweet time to attend their show. But really, they're not necessarily part of the fashion industry and, as you mentioned, fashion week is supposed to be an industry event.

    I think with the start of the internet and social media, brands believed that having well-known names as attendees would boost sales. But perhaps now that they've spent a few years in trial and error regarding who attends + actual sales, they've (at least a couple of them) came to the realization that celebrities did not help.

    Not sure if I made sense or just rambled on. But anyway, intriguing post <3

  9. Loved reading this because it actually sounds intelligent. A lot of the rebuttals I've read defending bloggers sound overly defensive and irrationally angry. Criticism is expected in any field. You basically summed it up in the end: it's all about that perfect balance.

    Mili from call me, Maeby

  10. Great lunch-time read! Interesting topic of debate. I agree that it's all about finding a balance. But yes the presence of celebrities does create a media circus and sometimes I'm left wondering how some of them end up on the front row (I'm looking at you Katy Perry). But in some cases, their attendance makes sense - take Jennifer Lawrence for example - she shows up at most red carpet events wearing Dior and isn't she one of their brand ambassadors? So her presence is no surprise...


  11. Lovely article, it definitely made me think a lot especially concerning which shows i look at first during fashion week (most usually one's people i love have attended). It's strange how the media can take over almost every art


  12. Love a blog with great writing, so congratulations. Quite frankly I couldn't care who is sitting front row at the fashion shows, but at the end of the day as a whole we do care what the famous are wearing and how they're wearing it. I suppose that at the end of the day (in general), the buyers make the clothing available, while the celebrities promote them to the public. I definitely agree that there should be more of a balance, but I think we're slowly getting there.


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