People often view Fashion Week in New York as a privileged and glamorous event packed with front row celebrities and major fashion editors. The perception is if you have made it to Fashion Week you’re essentially in the game, which is not always true. This year, thousands of people packed into Lincoln Center for designers’ Spring 2014 reveal at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. The number of attendees has increased significantly due to digital media and fashion bloggers who proved that they could be their own in demand editor.
During this season of Fashion Week, there are 350 shows scheduled in the span of nine days. Fashion shakers within the industry are noticing an imminent problem when it comes to the size and focus of Fashion Week. Even though the move from Bryant Park to Lincoln center in 2010 was reported to be able to hold 25 per cent more people, the shows are often over capacity with a sizeable amount of people standing to view shows.
From a public relations standpoint, there may be an advantage to increased media attendance to gain exposure for their clients. However, attendance to a show doesn’t always guarantee coverage and they’re certainly well aware of that. A large number of people who attend are also primarily focused on celebrity sighting. An example was of this was at the Herve Leger show where performer Nicki Minaj was in attendance. It wasn’t long after being shoved by bloggers and people who were more concerned about snapping a shot of the star than the clothes that I realized just how much things have changed. At least designer Max Azria was smart enough to make sure Minaj was sporting his design for next season during her attendance for his show.
It looked like production at the tents were aware of these issues and introduced something called “priority standing” this season. Just for curiosity, I asked a representative there exactly what that meant and they quickly explained that it was no different than a standing invitation. If you’re lucky enough to get standing room, this means you have to fight your way to the front of space allocated before 4 more lines pile up behind you. (Hint: If you’re past the second line in standing room, you might as well stay home unless you’re 10 feet tall.) Production at Lincoln Center also has to deal with the stress of trying to fit everyone in small space which often means if you’re standing don’t expect the “red carpet” treatment. To top it off, shows are often starting 30-40 minutes later than scheduled to organized the sheer amount of people in a space.
While this may be a green card for wannabes to say they’re in the game by being a scenester, it’s frustrating for those who are truly passionate about the designers’ inspiration. Creating buzz is necessary for fashion but one has to wonder who is really policing the gates for relevant coverage. Perhaps the problem is really that fashion has become too inclusive that the essence of it is being distilled to who’s sitting in the front row and the popularization of street style outside Lincoln Center.
Designers are now speaking out and making a conscious effort to limit both celebrity and media attendance to ensure the vision of their designs are not lost.
“Industry professionals 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.”-Oscar de la Renta for Women’s Wear Daily
"I don't like the drama in the fashion world. I like to do our thing without the drama.”- Tommy Hilfiger for ABC News
Notable designers such as Joseph Altuzarra, Diane Von Furstenberg and Oscar de la Renta have reported that they have reduced their number of attendees and have also opted to hold their show off site from Lincoln Center. Preseident of the Council of Designers and Fashion of America, Diane Von Furstenberg suggested that online shows might make Fashion Week attendance a thing of the past.
Check back for a review on the spring 2014 highlights from Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York. In the meantime, take a look in our gallery for some of my favorite looks so far.
Amy Yew is a contributing columnist at Vancouver Courier and currently in attendance at New York Fashion Week. Tell us what you think and submit any questions you have to email@example.com. You can also tweet your thoughts on Twitter @AmyYew.
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