Is it about the fashion? Or the fashion moment?
While the guys might have been wearing studded leather biker jackets and sequin bombers, and the girls might have been doing their best riff on Rizzo, who knows when Philipp Plein sent out a rendition of The Fast and The Furious meets Grease. The aforementioned looks wandered down a road-like catwalk - accessorised rather crassly with cigarettes one should add - and fast cars continued to circle (maybe they were looking for a parking spot? This is Milan after all) around the "block". We expect it from Plein. He's rewritten the rule book when it comes to putting on a show - otherwise known as creating a distraction technique from whatever goes down the catwalk. Had the show started yet? Who knew, among the fireballs and flames and more fast cars and motorbikes and Grease, the musical, apparently happening before us. But when you go to a show, what are you going for? It’s the clothes, the fashion, surely? Yet in this Insta age, they seem to be taking something of a back seat. It is the fashion moment that is winning now. Let's remind ourselves this is no fashion moment like Dior's New Look, or when a new star is born; this is merely Insta-fodder. And it seems to matter little what that actually stands for or means. Which is not good. See above. But what about the fashion? Seriously. What about the fashion?
Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION
"What makes me sad is that now at the end of the shows there is no applause. There used to be applause and appreciation for the designer and the model and the stylist and everything that goes into creating a show," observes Stevie Westgarth, menswear editor at London-based magazine Hunger. "Now, everyone just holds up their phones, has that fashion moment to share; people aren't looking at the clothes."
It's true. Silence now is golden - it means everyone is concentrating on getting the perfect shot. That doesn't mean, however, the collection is golden; it just means it's hit the right social media spot. For now.
"If you can create clothes and present them in a show without bells and whistles, it's probably a good collection," reasons - and quite accurately so - Holly Fraser, editor at the publication.
Hands in the air like you just don't care does not convey what it once did - hands must be poised and ready to get the shot. The shot must be there in the first place. It's prescribed; it's a recipe. Which means another layer of thought beyond merely that of clothes.
Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION
Let me entertain you: From venue to wait time to setting, location and additional product launch, if that extra layer isn't there then what's the point in turning up? Well, that's not entirely true. The purpose of a show was always to see the clothes. To see them and to buy them. Once such an exercise joined the worldwide revolution of the web and social stratosphere, that all changed. Everything fell into flux, the role and need for the fashion show included; when to show menswear and womenswear; when to show collections and when they were available to buy. Nobody knows anymore. All they do know is if they do something shareable and clicky, that "works". To what end, the likelihood is they haven't actually worked that out yet. Followers and readership/circulation figures do in fact work to the same set of rules - just no one has caught on yet. Fashion has always operated in currency but not everyone has worked out the exchange rate yet either.
Perhaps then there is something to be said for a good old-fashioned show, no bells and whistles in a time when increasingly its role is being questioned. Perhaps it's just that the wrong question is being asked. Because is it about the fashion or is it about the fashion moment?
As a writer I can tell you everything clothes-wise I've seen; but as a reader probably the more interesting thing is what happened at the show. You have, of course, probably already seen it.
At Zegna there were drummers and there were mirror platforms for the finale pose. The clothes were easy and breezy but super luxe and glossy. They spoke of money and relaxation. At Diesel we saw the same look for boys and girls each time, many times, but the tribe at the end had pace and power. Marni was a breath of fresh air because it was artsy as it should be and we could simply enjoy what we were seeing. Emporio Armani used the occasion to launch a new timepiece via singer and ambassador Shawn Mendes and included some martial arts moves on the catwalk, the sartorial semantics of which were echoed in the clothes. Marcelo Burlon sent out a cool and wearable collection with some really great jackets, but I won't lie I was too distracted by Abra to really notice much at all. Which brings us back to Plein. What came first? The show or the clothes? Exactly.