Stefano Tonchi Wonders If Fashion Week Is Worth the Bother

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From left: Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and Gianfranco Ferré. Photo: Imaxtree

Going to one Fashion Week is a trial of the nerves. All the lines, the waiting, the "who is that, anyway?" celebrities who draw crowds of desperate photographers and turn just getting to your seat into an Olympic event. For people used to sitting in offices all day, this gets annoying. And it's about that time in the show season — day two of Paris Fashion Week, the fourth and final in the biannual series — that nerves of editors who have to go to shows all day in every city wear thin. Times critic Cathy Horyn, for instance, was particularly displeased at the end of Milan Fashion Week. T Magazine's Stefano Tonchi is also frustrated with the system, especially the fall 2010 season, in which both London and Milan Fashion Week's were cut short, cramming even more events into each attendee's day.


The problem with international fashion weeks and their legitimacy is a larger one now that fashion moves so fast and is a full-on entertainment machine. Are biannual fashion shows really the way to present fashion when stores need new merchandise every week? When there are so many collections presented throughout the year, when fragrances and other accessories and products are so important to the life of the brand, what does it mean to run across the planet to see similar collections over and over again every six months?

Shouldn’t we rethink the whole system and have fewer fashion weeks and instead more showroom meetings with buyers and fashion market editors? Shouldn’t designers take more time to really work on ideas and to research new fabrics and shapes and show only when they are ready and have something new to say? Shouldn’t their marketing teams make better use of the budgets for what really is significant to the life of the brand?

It's the same question Horyn posed a while ago: Do fashion shows still matter? And are these clothes worth the nine-hour flights? Everyone can view the collections online, and more houses each season are live-streaming shows online. They're usually buggy and frustrating and don't work until after the show is over, but they're getting better. Besides, is it to a label's advantage to put editors and critics whose praise they crave through such a frustrating process twice a year?

The Trouble With Milan [T Magazine/NYT]
Earlier: Cathy Horyn on Milan Fashion Week: ‘An Eternity of Bad Clothes Crammed Into Four Days’