Does clothing come second to spectacle in the fashion industry?
Chanel fashion shows always provide the most amazing and unexpected experiences: the casino at the scene, the airport, robots, dancing on the streets of Cuba, – how will they surprise their guests next time?
A few weeks ago, the footage of Chanel’s full-size space rocket, flying 10 meters above the runway at the end of the show, flooded the media – both traditional and social. The fascinated fashion editors, bloggers, and celebrities posted similar videos with the rocket launch, however, only a few of them shared the looks from the new collection. It felt that fashion became secondary at the fashion show. And Chanel is not alone.
Look at recent runway shows by Tommy Hilfiger: everybody looks at Gigi, who’s been collaborating with the brand as a guest designer for two seasons already. The media cover dancing models, and celebrities, having fun at the fair, which was built by the brand, but not the garments. Balmain always receives massive attention because of the army of supermodels they always invite to take part in their presentations and runway shows.
There are some other techniques to reach the same ‘wow’-effect in fashion shows. During the last few years, we saw unusual locations – from Fendi at Trevi Fountain to Gucci at Westminster Abbey and Louis Vuitton at Louvre Palace. Other brands spent money on crazy decorations: Ellie’s little house, taken by a tornado to the prairies at the Coach catwalk this season, or the spiral runway at Anya Hindmarch ss17; these are only two small examples of the trend.
Moreover, designers invite dancers, singers and actors to create the real spectacular show. But as the New Yorker pointed in 2014, “it is at least as hard to write a play as it is to design a truly memorable collection”, when they reviewed fashion shows of the season. “The clothes should be paramount, and the press and retailers need to see the detail and how the clothes breathe and move”, said Ralph Lauren two years ago, but now he has got involved in the race for most memorable show of the season with live white orchids and faux butterflies at his aw17 show.
Why does this happen to fashion giants? The answer is simple: they have no creative ideas for new collections, and try to spin the publicity wheel with such PR stunts as spectacular shows. We have not seen anything revolutionary or new at runways for ages, and as production cycles become even shorter with e-commerce and the ‘see now, buy now’ concept, we can’t expect any positive change in the near future. Fashion is one of the most profitable industries in the world, and it can’t just take a break from creating new trends and silhouettes. So brands continue to feed us with yesterday’s designs in new packages and hope we will stay pleased as long as they entertain us.