I’ve been waiting to comment on the whole Milan vs New York & London fashion week scheduling drama, as I wanted to see what happens. But it looks like the fashion weeks are going ahead as planned, which means next fashion month is going to have some serious fashion show overlaps.
For those of you that don’t know the full situation, I am going to cheat a little and quote Vanessa Friedman’s blog. She summed up the chain of events quite nicely:
“1. According to the CFDA and the British Fashion Council, in 2008 the four fashion bodies in the four big fashion cities met and agreed on a show schedule in perpetuum: NY would start on the second Thursday of September and February, London would follow, then Milan, etc. And so, indeed it has gone.
2. Now the Camera Nazionale claims this is not true: the agreement was only for three years, has expired, and in 2012 sticking to it anyway would be too difficult for it because the second Thursday falls late, which mean Milanese designers will not have time to meet their production schedule.
3. As a result, Milan has said, in effect, “in your face,” and moved its dates to Weds Sept 19-Tues Sept 25. Which conflicted with the stated dates of NY (Sept 13-20), and London (Sept 21-25). Given New York usually ends with ginormous advertisers Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, and Milan usually starts with Gucci, which puts retailers and editors in a pretty big financial bind.
4. Tough: NY said it was sticking to the agreement and would not move; Milan said it would not move. Conde Nast International said its editors (British Vogue, French Vogue, German Vogue) would side with NY and London, and not go to Milan.
I have to say that I completely understand Milan’s position here. The fashion bodies of Paris, Milan, London, and New York may have agreed on dates for three years, but if the agreement expired this year, it makes sense that Milan wants to move their dates. Even in the past three years, it feels like the fashion schedule has sped up, and designers are pressured to deliver new collections sooner than in the past. A few years ago it may have seemed beneficial to be one of the last fashion weeks (New York used to be last) but nowadays it is probably better to be at the beginning because of production schedules.
On the other hand, I can understand that New York doesn’t want a fashion week overlapping with Labour Day, as they have a ridiculously small number of public holidays and it would be a shame to lose one to fashion. (It is a shame to lose anything to fashion.)
So now it seems that Milan and London fashion weeks will overlap. I can see why the fashion industry is annoyed at Milan for being quite sneaky with these dates (they didn’t actually “announce” them, they just posted them online) but we can’t blame the designers for wanting to get their deliveries out on time.
The main problem here, in my opinion, is that fashion month is beginning to feel irrelevant and pointless. Who cares if London and Milan are showing at the same time? Sure, journalists and buyers need to see the collections, but shows are unnecessary. Buyers buy in showrooms, and generally journalists rely on catwalk images, lookbooks, and showrooms to choose what collections they want to feature. One tweeter suggested “Cancel Fashion Month, throw it on a flash drive” (@colleennika) which makes a hell of a lot of sense.
The fashion shows have turned into red carpet events where industry people walk around in fancy outfits and get photographed by street style bloggers (which has resulted in most of the street style images beginning to look the same.) The shows have turned into circuses where it is hardly about the clothes, its about the set, the models, and the front row. While it IS an amazing experience to attend a well-produced show, it is also a big pain in the ass to travel to the show, line up outside, and wait 20 minutes in your seat, for about 15 minutes of fashion.
So personally, I think this whole scenario is quite funny and I am not really that bothered about it. In fact, if I wasn’t so busy with baby, I’d probably go to London or Milan next fashion week as there will be some good invitations up for grabs.
The one thing that really annoyed me is that Conde Nast’s chairman, Jonathon Newhouse, said that if Milan chooses to show at the same time as London, then the Conde Nast editors will not attend the Milan shows. (WWD) I thought that was hilarious, I’d like to see Franca Sozzani choosing the Henry Holland show over Prada. Alexandra Shulman (editor of British Vogue) also said she thought people would choose London over Milan, which is totally absurd. Milan has some very powerful advertisers showing, whereas London has very few, and magazines will not snub the Milan designers because they will risk losing advertising income. Jonathon Newhouse also said “the best way to avoid having a problem is to maintain the schedule as it is now” which really pisses me off because he is clearly not showing any understanding of WHY Milan has changed their dates, he is simply thinking about what suits his magazines. As usual, Conde Nast and their staff think the fashion world revolves around them, which is totally ironic as Prada, Armani, and Dolce & Gabbana probably pay a nice chunk of their salaries.
Anyway, let’s see what happens. Either way, this drama sure is exciting.
Street style images by Phil Oh from Vogue.com.