For the avid fashion-lover, the months of February and September that bring along another seasonal set of Fashion Weeks have gotten better and better over the past few years. More shows than ever are available to view online shortly after they're presented to a crowded house of press, buyers and guests, and the more technologically advanced of the houses are even streaming their shows live nowadays. Granted that the live streamings don't always work until after the shows due to high demand, the changes in global fashion weeks are leaving fashionistas without invites content, whilst members of the industry ponder whether they're worth visiting after all.
Why, you might ask? When from the eye of a fashion fan everything seems so glamorous, the dramatic changes we've witnessed over the past decade, or possibly even over the past five years have left a dramatic change on the industry, with technology putting incredible pressure on press, and the recent 'celeb culture' trend making it a less enjoyable experience. Whilst only last week New York Times critic Cathy Horyn expressed her disappointment at the end of Milan Fashion Week - branding it "an eternity of bad clothes crammed into four days with editors raging like shut-ins about the lack of fun" - it seems T Magazine's Stefano Tonchi isn't best pleased with the experience, either.
"The problem with international fashion weeks and their legitimacy is a larger one now that fashion moves so fast and is a full-on entertainment machine. Are biannual fashion shows really the way to present fashion when stores need new merchandise every week? When there are so many collections presented throughout the year, when fragrances and other accessories and products are so important to the life of the brand, what does it mean to run across the planet to see similar collections over and over again every six months?" Tonchi wrote on the T Magazine blog on Wednesday.
"Shouldn’t we rethink the whole system and have fewer fashion weeks and instead more showroom meetings with buyers and fashion market editors? Shouldn’t designers take more time to really work on ideas and to research new fabrics and shapes and show only when they are ready and have something new to say? Shouldn’t their marketing teams make better use of the budgets for what really is significant to the life of the brand?"
In the case of Tonchi, this isn't just about the Olympic-worthy hurdles that an editor might have to overcome these days to find his or her seat, amongst a crowd of snapping photographers at the latest headline-grabbing celebrity to sit front-row - this is also about the speed of fashion, and whether a seasonal set of fashion weeks are even relevant in today's ridiculously fast-paced industry.
While London Fashion Week was in full swing, Angela Buttolph spoke of the changes of fashion weeks - how it used to be an ever-so-simple case of allocating members of your team tickets, which they would then write about, and how nowadays each member gets a long list of who is expected to Tweet the show, who is blogging it, and so on. Then we have poor Grace Coddington, who recently expressed her struggle to keep up with the rate of technology, and more recently Andre Leon Talley and Coddington rejecting the idea of using Twitter and Facebook claiming that the fast-paced sites go against the essence of time and luxury at Vogue (only for ALT to try Twitter, to see what the fuss was about).
"If you do something fast — which is what all those things make you do because you’re spending your whole time reading and then it's outdated in 10 minutes or something — I don’t think that’s good for fashion because we are, we’re trying to speed up all those poor designers so they have 15 collections a year, and it’s stupid because how many dresses can you wear?" Coddington expressed in her outpour. "It makes them do it not so well, or they have a breakdown, as just very sadly happened. Alexander McQueen killed himself, and that’s part of that hysteria. It breaks my heart.”
Ironically, only time will tell if fashion designers take note at the disdain of those who write about their collections, and begin to slow the pace down. In the meantime with only a few more days of Paris Fashion Week left, there will be a good chance for worn out press, buyers and designers alike to take a break and rekindle their fire for the fashion circus, just in time for September.