“Thank you for your message. However, except for a few shows in Paris, I won’t be covering fashion month this season. Let’s speak for the next one.” These are the words I have most often emailed in the last few days. After 5 years covering every single major fashion week (New York, London, Milan, Paris, women's and men’s, plus couture of course) I need a breather.
Photo by Anna Palermo for NOWFASHION
“If you can’t handle it, just watch the shows on Youtube. No one’s like forcing you to go to fashion week,” someone rather bluntly told me last week when I first mentioned fashion fatigue on Facebook. Except I can handle it; I just don’t think I want to handle it right now. Also, if you are an editor, a buyer, or a PR person, you are, like, forced to go to fashion week. And to go to sleep at 2 am and wake up at 5 am most days to do all the extra work you don’t have the time to do otherwise. And to dress up at 8 am when all you want to wear are tracksuits (thanks Gosha Rubchinskiy, Chloé, and Adidas by Alexander Wang for taking care of that for now). And to spend an average of 8 hours in a car, furiously typing emails on your iPhone while stressing at the static traffic and all the presentations you are missing, only to get to a venue, be ushered in like cattle while trying not to step on Emmanuelle Alt’s toes, sit there waiting in the icy cold/scorching hot air wondering when you will next be able to eat/drink/pee, all for 10 minutes’ worth of show before starting all over again. Times 10. Every. Single. Day.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from all negative. There are also the beautiful collections. The spectacular shows (dare I say it? A big part of me is really bummed to be missing the Philipp Plein show featuring Dita Von Teese). The fun fashion gossip and the conversations that will inspire articles for months to come. And the people you genuinely enjoy spending time with. I’ve loved all that for years. But I’ve had it with feeling exhausted, on edge, oversensitive, defensive, pressured, and guilty of everything I’m not finding the time to do. That’s not who I am. The unsustainability of fashion month as a business model is the fashion folk’s favourite topic, but what about the unsustainability of its human aspect?
“Personally I try to reach balance by finding something else to do outside of fashion, avoiding working for hysterical people, and trying to overcome FOMO and thinking I’m missing out on the party of the season. My son, my charity work, and yoga keep me going,” my friend Letizia, a PR representative for Maison Margiela, told me the other day. She was tapping on several of the fashion pack’s anxieties. I’m an acute FOMO sufferer myself, always bound to eschew my tiredness to attend a party I don’t actually care for out of fear that the next morning everyone will be talking about how amazing Kanye West’s performance was or how they rubbed shoulders with Demna Gvasalia and Lotta Volkova. During womenswear, I get sick of seeing older French female editors on the verge of tears on Saturday morning. “My husband is no longer talking to me. I made him prepare dinner for the last three days and today he has to spend the whole morning with the children” is a sentence I’ve heard way too often. And while the petty machismo of French men is a different topic, it all adds up to the stress and tension that permeate women’s shows. Someone even told me most fashion divorces happen immediately after fashion month. I don’t have statistics for that, unfortunately. “I used to think men’s was intense, until I tried couture. Women’s is hell,” plainly said my friend Akim, a fellow editor. He was not the only one to speak on those terms. “I feel you, pal” and “I will try to find a bit of excitement in a world of boredom, a bit of pleasure in an ocean of pain” were some of the other comments I got when asking people how they felt about the upcoming fashion month. But the one that summed it all up was uttered by Patrick, a French PR rep for a major American brand: “You are linking fashion month to divorce and Xanax. But you’re forgetting the Dulcolax.”
Photo by Elizabeth Pantaleo for NOWFASHION
We all know it: fashion people love to complain. No arguments on this side. However, few persons have the kind of stamina and zen that a life devoted to fashion week requires. Our favourite answer when someone asks us how we are is “tired.” What if we say that because it’s true? Does the fashion industry really want all its members to be permanently exhausted and wondering why the hell they chose fashion as a career? Fashion month needs to change, not just because of its inefficiency as a business model nowadays, but also because it’s making everyone sick. Ultimately, fashion needs magic to exist, and the more we keep forcing things, the more that magic is disappearing. So, because this season I exceptionally have a choice, I’ll contemplate fashion month from a safe distance, probably in non-Gosha tracksuits from the back of a van in front of some northern Spain beach. But I’ll still be wondering, what if this is as good as it gets?