Vera Wang, an empty runway, and Carine Roitfeld: does this spell the end of fashion weeks?
Economic and technological pressures are weighing heavily on designers, and style pundits are wondering if ye olde runway spectacle is on its way out along with Anna Wintour and, apparently, black (didn't that just come back?).
The Queen Bee of all style pundits, the New York Times' Cathy Horyn, stung the industry with the suggestion of the catwalk's death first. After her invitation to an Armani show was snatched back, she concluded that it was just as easy reviewing jpegs on her computer as it would have been critiquing live clothing from the front row.
FinalFashion's Danielle Meder also made her own fashion week-free prophecy this week. Her argument focuses on overexposure (see Canadian evidence here, here, here, here, here and here) and a mini movement by labels like Vera Wang and Betsey Johnson away from the Bryant Park hoopla for the upcoming Fall 2009 season in New York.
But fashion weeks are also as practical as a parka in winter. They shepherd the international fashion press from style capital to style capital. Just look at the poor Toronto designer who attempts to lure local media out of their cubicles when it's not fashion week and is met with an empty nightclub as evidence of the editor's need for runway room structure.
Runway shows are also still attractive marketing opportunities for companies who seek out designer partnerships to launch cell phones and multiple blade razors.
And since we're talking fashion, it would be naïve to ignore the power of the designer ego. They may look reluctant taking that post-show turn down the catwalk but they'd go for another lap if they could get away with it.
The fashion show-less concept is also at odds with another 2009 trend. As JakandJil.com has already alerted us, the once behind-the-scenes tribe of editors, stylists, buyers, bloggers and off-duty models on parade every sixth months in New York, London, Paris and Milan are the industry's new front-and-centre influencers. Somehow we doubt Carine Roitfeld slinking around her office via a web cam would be as satisfying.