An interesting fact: there are only 6 months of the year that aren’t decorated with an ‘official Fashion Week’. Another interesting fact: Norwich (home of both Delia Smith and Alan Partridge) hosts a fashion week.
My point – besides the fact that this blogpost may not be as unseasonable as it sounds – is that the term ‘Fashion Week’ is one that is banded around ruthlessly, from the highest offices of the Big Apple to the sleepy towns of rural England. Why? It is a clear publicity spinner. We are living in a time when anyone with a WordPress account can call themselves a fashion blogger, just as anyone with a Twitter account can call themselves a political commentator. And if you are a fashion blogger, then a local Fashion Week is probably the one event on your calendar which permits you to blog about something of substance. (That’s right, your £40 H&M-based haul vlog does not count as substance, neither does your blog about what you wore to your Grandad’s 80th birthday party). Here, the intrepid blogger gains a ‘press pass’ via an online form, and can be spotted a few rows back, iPhone/SLR in hand, taking photos of everything that comes down the runway. Only mental notes are taken, and no true criticism prevails.
So much for the local Fashion Week, but what of the Big 4? Well in this instance, the bloggers have not created a PR storm as much as they have created a monster, or a joke. London Fashion Week is a 3-4 day long event that revolves around a big gazebo erected in the middle of Somerset House, where the shows take place. Of course, the whole of London cannot get a seat, so the real ‘action’ takes place on the cobbles outside. Here, in an extraordinary display of symbiosis, Bloggers take pictures of other Bloggers, and blog about how great all the other Bloggers look. This anthropological phenomena is aided and abetted by the Models: those who aren’t really models but art students and attention-seekers who wear something outrageous, smoke, and look edgy. They provide sartorial food for the Bloggers, who more often than not cannot blag tickets to a fashion show.
And so the Bloggers head home to blog about their ‘amazing time’ at Fashion Week. Of course, having seen a grand total of zero shows, their blogposts should really be entitled ‘My Time at The Circus Surrounding Fashion Week.’ But the circus is really now the main event. All the glossies send photographers to capture street style – which is just about as ‘street’ as Princess Michael of Kent’s parlour.
Notwithstanding the clear PR-ingenuity of said street style photographers, I suppose the politics of Fashion Week is one of democracy, of people power. It is the young, innovative spectators making the front page, not necessarily the millionaire designers. But what’s missing is substance in the form of criticism. Adjusting the process of ticketing for shows could mean that bloggers, free from unbreakable corporate relationships, will also be free to criticise the collections. Bloggers themselves need to become more analytical. The people need to ransack the palace; the bloggers need enter the tent.
Alas, many bloggers these days are tied to commercial contracts just as much as the magazines. But that’s for another blogpost.