Fashion weeks may be viewed as frivolous, superficial and dictatorial but asking the question, what’s the point of them is synonymous with asking what is the point of film festivals, Art Fairs, and the FIFA World Cup? In fact if you think about it fashion is becoming a big part of the popular culture and it does reflect modern society. However, for some reason, it faces a lot more criticism than it’s counterparts–music, art, film, even sports.
I used to work for NY Fashion Weeks years ago and I remember that we had 2 hours to prepare the venues for each show, not to mention the countless hours spent on the guest lists, the lights, the runway, the models selection, direction of the show, invitations, presskits, seating arrangement and all kinds of hassle details I am sure most of you are blissfully unaware of as you watch the end product. The show itself lasts less than 20 minutes.
It’s the most expensive 20 minutes of a fashion house’s year, the clothes are ridiculously overpriced and, for the most part, could never be worn by anyone over a size 8 so it makes logical sense that a fashion show may leave you asking “what was the point of it?”
The purpose of fashion weeks continues to be a big topic of discussion but interestingly more so among those with little to no interest in fashion. So let’s start with an open mind and some tolerance: not everyone is interested in the same thing, right? Except that almost half of the population on the earth loves fashion (including a good portion of men). Why? I’ve tried to answer that question so many times but at the end of the day I think it’s a lot of reasons. Clothing is something most all of us wear, unless you live in a nudist colony, so it actually serves as a good bridge to possibly unite us. As a woman, I love pretty things, I love craftsmanship, I admire other well-dressed women, and I love the transformative power of fashion and how it makes me feel about myself. If I fall in love with a blouse and I put that silk on my skin, I am transformed as well. It is as simple and as deep as that. It means we can care about fashion but also be intelligent, strong, and fierce. Loving fashion doesn’t make a woman unintelligent or a man soft. It instead gives us both a creative outlet and a form of self expression. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it serves a purpose and makes sense that the best of the best would want to come together and create something like fashion weeks to lead the industry, keep it fresh, inspire the designers, and CELEBRATE.
I know that fashion doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone, but when women were asked what they think of fashion their answers included: imagination, innovation, expression, fantasy, inspiration, transformation, personality, creative outlet, empowerment…
This means that fashion is a big part of women’s lives all over the world and it affects how they feel, how they move, and how they act. It also means that fashion boosts economy globally and locally. It is true that some extreme, outrageous designs may float down the runway that are completely unwearable, but whether you’re a certified fashionista or not, they serve to inform clothing across the board, to ignite the audience, and to push old boundaries to new heights or revitalize and resurrect old trends. From Marks & Spencer to Topshop and everything in between, the high street is very much influenced by what it sees at these Fashion Weeks. Remember what Miranda Priestly said in The Devil Wears Prada, summing fashion in one office speech:
‘This… stuff’? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets?… And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.
So whether you bow down to the altar of high-end fashion or not, it is nothing to disdain because we are all part of it in some way. What do you see and feel when you peak inside your closet every morning? It might be cool to know the history of it, how it got there….what inspired its creation and how it landed in your closet?
Tsitaliya is a writer and fashion journalist for more than 20 years. She founded Mums in Heels 10 years ago and keeps growing and evolving together with her community or fashionable mums and responsible consumers. Fashion and Wellness are her most favourite topics to write about.