On the eve of London Fashion Week we at 125 have been considering the relevance of the traditional fashion show setup in the age of recession and the internet which has led us to ask some questions about the validity of a system which sees thousands of people flying around the world for what is essentially a month long party in 4 cities.
The internet and live streaming mean it is no longer necessary to travel between far flung cities to see what's on show and there has for many years been a growing sense that perhaps the catwalk is not the most effective method of viewing clothing, how much information can one really glean from 10 seconds of fast moving fabric 6 feet from your seat (if you are lucky enough to be on the front row). Is it not the case that fashion editors and buyers actually make decisions on what to feature/buy when they visit the showrooms a few weeks later?
Not to mention the huge cost of staging these extravaganza's - it is estimated that a BFC supported show will cost somewhere in the region of £50'000 and a major Paris or Milan show anywhere from £150'000 to £500'000. Of course such extravagant spending and spectacle can generate valuable press interest but the catwalk stopped being a showcase for design long ago, it is now a platform for celebrity exposure - the press feature far more images of pop stars and actresses sitting on the front row then actual clothing on the catwalk, so is it still a relevant means of gaining exposure?
We will of course be at the shows this week and the 125 site will feature highlights and round-ups, but ahead of the circus coming to town we thought we'd give a little nod of recognition to some of the brands that are trying to do something different with their 15 minutes of fame.
Last season 125 worked with emerging couture brand Lee Klabin to produce a short fashion film and screening event in London (watch it here) and this season there are a plethora of fashion films debuting at Somerset House in an new official Fashion Week screening space (which hopefully proves that the BFC are keen to support new ideas). Sifting through the stack of press releases received in the last 10 days we have picked out 4 interesting pieces which we think show the diversity of ideas out there for brands willing to try something new.
Sonic Sinuate Supertemporal Sequestador
In an unusual and as yet unexplained collaboration Fred Butler has chosen to showcase her return to London fashion week with a presentation of accessories based around a four-part sound installation designed by Patrick Wolf which synchronizes four models in some sort of live event. We have absolutely no idea what's in store for the audience but it sounds like a welcome break from the traditional 60 minute wait and 10 minute fashion show we are used to.
The Portico Rooms
Sunday 18th September at 17:30 and 19:30
Antoni & Alison
To coincide with London Fashion Week and London's Open House Weekend renowned design duo Antoni& Alsion have opted to showcase their latest collection within the space it was created, their mid-terrace 1820's house in South London, where viewers will be able to get a genuine feel for the inspiration and processes generated by their usually private residence. Tours of 20 people at a time will take place through out the day on a first come first served basis.
The House of Mr & Mrs Antoni & Alison
80 Southwark Bridge Road SE1 0AS
Sat 17th Sept 10am-5pm.
Watch It Here
Fashion film is perhaps now the most conventional alternative to the catwalk but perhaps increasingly relevant and affordable. Damaris has built a reputation for promotion through film - last years 'Chore' ostensibly a film about a girls bottom has gained widespread exposure and this years offering directed by acclaimed commercials director Johnny Green and starring supermodel Liberty Ross is expected to be equally popular. It could be argued that the clothing become secondary to the narrative n fashion film but that's in no way a criticism when compared to the way the clothing becomes secondary to the hours of waiting for a catwalk show to commence.
Brooke Roberts is a knitwear designer who is currently the 'Creative in Residence' at London's Hospital Club and will be presenting her S/S '12 collection of Allen Institute on 15 classically trained dancers with a performance produced in collaboration with Riccardo Buscarni (choreographer) and Bianca Wendt (art graphics) that will 'consist of minimal linear, sophisticated robotic choreography'.
Tuesday 20th September 2011
The Hospital Club, Covent Garden, London
So, whether you agree that the catwalk is enjoying it's twilight years or think we're cynical old hacks we hope you will agree that there is more to fashion promotion than 20 girls walking quickly in a straight line.
Check back tomorrow for more updates from LFW.