Another Fashion Month kicks off this week and designers in New York are scrambling to get their Fall 2014 collections show-ready. They needn't bother. For bloggers, celebrities and sadly, even a few editors, Fashion Week is more of a time to be seen than see the collections.
Don't get me wrong, guests with coveted invites to the shows will be documenting them via pictures posted to their Instagram and Twitter accounts, but mainly to prove that they were there. In the past few seasons, show-goers have even gone as far as to take selfies...during the shows.
There is a growing consensus among the fashion crowd that the designs of Fashion Week are being overshadowed by the near hysterical self-promotion of bloggers and editors. Over the past five years a trend has emerged: Borrow clothes from PR companies and dress completely over the top to get your picture taken as much as humanly possible to generate personal publicity. If you don't have the clout to borrow, wear the loudest clothes you own. Some of these overeager street style models aren't even invitees, but Lincoln Center lurkers hanging around for a photo op.
The majority of them dress completely normally on a daily basis, but style themselves as eye-catchingly as possible for their fifteen minutes of Fashion Week fame. Nothing is too weird to wear outside the tents. The more eccentric the better. It's the equivalent of Halloween for the fashion industry, except it happens twice a year, and that's if you don't count Resort and Couture.
Despite the seemingly exclusive nature of fashion, Fashion Week photographers go nuts for anyone with a D-List speck of celebrity. You'll realize this if you've ever been to a fashion show with reality television star Brad Goreski in attendance. He's always seated in the front row and the way he's mobbed you would think Michelle Obama had made a surprise appearance.
The same goes for "street style stars," a term, which, in itself, seems like an oxymoron. Street style should be, if anything, the antithesis of star or celebrity style. Street style should be what one wears without the intention of getting photographed. It should be personal style in its purest form, what you wear to express yourself, just for the sake of expression. The opposite of the contrivance of dressing for an event. Uber-successful street style blogs like The Sartorialist started out as a very ode to this natural, genuine type of grace.
For the majority of the fashion industry, the editors, stylists and buyers who devote their careers to interpreting design for the masses, Fashion Month is indeed, an extremely hectic period when free time vanishes and work is without end. For them, going to fashion shows, despite sounding glamorous, is in fact work. Editors are crafting future fashion stories in their heads and taking notes on trends. Writers are reviewing collections before they've even had a moment to fully process what they've seen before moving on to the next show. These experts have a huge responsibility to the designers and the public to do their jobs well and in a short time frame.
I applaud these professionals who work in fashion for the love of it and don't forget that the designs are the true attraction of Fashion Week. If anyone deserves a chance to borrow clothes and dress up, it's them. I marvel at their ability to find the time to plan their Fashion Month wardrobe, especially if they are traveling to multiple cities. And I enjoy seeing what they wear, if not quite as much as seeing what my favorite designers have come up with. My favorite editors are the ones who look like themselves during Fashion Month, but better. The ones who step it up the way anyone would when going to an important meeting or interview, but wear clothes that are authentic to their aesthetic.
Inauthenticity is my main grievance with the frenzy outside of the shows. The rampant self-promotion and personal branding that is the amateurs dressed in every piece of clothing they own feels like too far of a departure from the integrity of the designs being presented. Credit should reside where credit is due, and that is with the designers who have beat the odds to be able to show in an incredibly competitive industry, not with bloggers whose main skills include navigating WordPress and the self-timers on their cameras. It pains me to think that some of them get more press than up and coming designers.
My tip for show-goers this Fashion Week is to look your best, but look like yourself. Get plenty of rest and take the chaos in stride. Smile for the cameras, or don't, but remember that it's not all about you. Most of all, take in the designs and put down your smartphone for a second to just see them. That's the point. There's nothing like watching a designer's creations float down the runway. Soak it in.