Fashion Shows for Sale

Alexander McQueen's legendary Plato's Atlantis Spring Summer 2010 show live streamed on Show Studio.

This very interesting post by the Sartorialist last week got me thinking about the future of fashion shows. He says that fashion shows are changing so much because nearly all of them are live streamed, and asks “Don’t you think it’s only a matter of time before these shows are open to the public? …I mean, let’s think about it, designers always say that one of their biggest expenses are fashion shows. It’s always one of the first things to get cut when times are hard. But, if they had the ability to sell tickets to these shows, it would actually become a profit maker instead of a necessary loss.”

The concept of paying for a fashion show in Europe is unheard of. Many people ask me how much it costs to get into a Chanel show, and I then have to explain that no one pays to get into a Chanel show, its free for the very limited list of people that are worthy of attending.

I don’t like the idea of paying for a fashion show, whether it is a designer fashion show in Paris, or a local fashion show. Actually, I wouldn’t pay for a fashion show, as attending fashion shows is work for me, and I don’t pay to go to work. And I certainly don’t like the idea of the general public being allowed to pay their way in to a fashion show, it would completely ruin the notion of exclusivity that the fashion industry has cultivated and is desperately trying to hold on to.

Pointless celebrities in the front row of a fashion show.

In the CNN documentary about her, Carine Roitfeld talks about how unusual it is that everyone wants to know about the fashion industry now, and that ten years ago, it wasn’t like this. She is right, when I started, the fashion industry was not full of celebrities, and therefore there weren’t millions of people who followed it closely, movies dedicated to the going ons of the industry, front rows full of pathetic reality TV stars, and thousands of fashion students trying to get into the industry. But now it is different, Anna Wintour  is a household name (how many of you can name a fashion editor from the 90s?) and the fashion industry is out in the public domain.

I know that fashion shows are very expensive, and it would be nice for brands to find a way to earn some money from them, but I don’t think they should do that by letting people buy tickets. At worst, they should stage two shows, one which is for industry, and then a public version afterwards (although even that sounds hideous to me, and probably not very cost effective.)

One thing that has really surprised me about Vancouver is that there are a lot of fashion shows on here, and people pay to go and see them. It is actually a business. Tomorrow night I am going to a fashion show that costs a lot of money (I’m not paying) and takes place at 10pm on a Friday night. That is like asking me to have a business meeting on a Friday night. I’d rather be with friends or family, relaxing and enjoying myself, rather than being “at work.” But I have realised that this is how things work here in Vancouver, and it is surprising.

Yves Saint Laurent's Spring Summer 1974 fashion show, with an informal catwalk, in the companies headquarters.

Image source.

For now the shows may be open to the public through a live streaming, but the invitations are still reserved for industry and celebrities (ugh.) As much as I love a big production fashion show, if the future of the shows require brands to tone them down a bit, I don’t think that would be such a bad thing. Let’s go back to the salon style shows from the 60s and 70s, intimate affairs for industry only (not celebrities please.) Its a nice idea isn’t it? But I doubt that will happen… For now the celebrities are adding to much value to the brands.

Here’s hoping that the fashion show I am going to tomorrow night, which is showcasing local ethically-friendly brands (which could go many ways…) is a fun Friday night out.

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  • Mimi

    Hello, I just found your blog and going some pages back I found this post quite interesting.. I do get your point almost always, one example is I'm vegan and highly disagree with the fur industry (but this is another point). I think the term 'celebrity' is being extremely misused nowadays, people like kim kardashian, paris hilton, victoria beckham (I get sick just to write their names) and all those not so reality tv 'stars' are called celebrities. WTF? Since when? The dictionary tell us that a celebrity is a notorious person, who accomplished something to be celebrated, and of course there are actors and musicians and who else in this business who can be called celebrities for real; heroes of science, a theatrical luminary, a notable of the concert stage, a personage in the field of philosophy.. I understand your feelings towards the subject, everybody is famous for nothing now. This makes us forget about the notable people around we once admired. It's time for them to get back and put those worthless 'celebrities' who can't act, sing or pretend they know something about designing clothes in their place. They can't even act themselves.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    What is even more worrying is that young people these days don't think they

    need to accomplish anything to be famous. It is scary.