New York Fashion Booms, Draws Criticism for Becoming a Circus
As celebrites, celebrity bloggers, and magazine editors lay out their impeccable outfits and finalize their cutting-edge manicures in preparation for the start of New York Fashion Week on Thursday, not everyone is looking forward to the commotion. In fact, some of fashion's most prominent names have openly criticized NYFW for turning away from its original purpose (displaying the couture) and becoming a celebrity-hungry arena for posers and show-offs.
Oscar de la Renta has announced that he will slash the number of attendees at his show by half in order to avoid all the celebrity-hunting and Instagramming that typically goes on at these "megashows." As de la Renta told WWD, "It’s important for [certain industry professionals] to look at the clothes and see them. They shouldn’t have to go through 30,000 people, and 10,000 who are trying to take pictures of all of those people who are totally unrelated to the clothes.”
Although Garance Doré and Scott Schuman made a name for themselves "trying to take pictures of all those people," they too have spoken up against the NYFW circus. The powerhouse streetstyle-photography couple just aren't as big on NYFW as they used to be, since it draws so many people who are, well, trying too hard. In an interview with Elle UK, Doré referred to the shows as "overcovered" and "overexposed," saying that the "streetstyle" of fashion week isn't genuine streetstyle, but the more calculated "fashion-week style." Even those who work in fashion don't want to see too much artifice.
If you've never attended the hysteria that NYFW has become, here's what you're missing. Outside of the shows, you'll have to fight your way through hordes of fashionable who's-whos attempting to have their photos taken (and their outfits documented) for various editorial and blog outlets. At the same time, these attendees will be snapping their own pictures as they tweet, Instagram, and Google Glass their way through the week, feeding their own immediate reactions to their online followers.
Hear a sudden roar to your left? Don't jump — that's probably just Kim and Kanye being escorted into Marc Jacobs.
Once inside a show, you may find it hard to focus on the couture, since Tyra Banks and her striking bone structure are sitting right across the aisle! Obviously, you have to take a photo. Fashion industry consultant Robert Burke would judge you, but he wouldn't be surprised: "Sometimes you can hardly see the show because people are jumping up to photograph each other," he says.
After an exhausting day — or seven — of show-hopping, celebrity-stalking, and photog-baiting, you can slink back to your hotel room and relive the whole thing online: re-watching the shows, preordering the collection, and maybe even checking to see if Forever 21 is selling a knockoff yet.
The chaos that NYFW has become does not exist in a vaccuum, however. It's endemic of the frenetic pace of fashion design, production, and distribution in general — a pace that barely allows creative designers to do their own things when they're putting on six, eight, ten shows a year. Suzy Menkes, in a piece for T: The Times Style Magazine, links the demanding speed of the "fashion carousel" to the demise of both John Galliano and Alexander McQueen.
Oscar de la Renta's slashing of show attendees is an attempt to return to an earlier, more exclusive world of fashion, while Doré and Schuman seem restless to turn away from the frenzy and onto something else that's more authentic. Either way, the pace can't last for long. In the next few years, something about New York Fashion Week, and maybe the fashion circus in general, will have to change. As Doré told Elle UK, "What you see at the shows has become a totally different thing [than real street style]. When it becomes like that, maybe it’s time to turn your camera away and shoot something else.”