Dear Paris '99ers,
On Monday evening last week I had the pleasure of attending LMFF Ready to Wear 4 as sponsored by Vogue, featuring Australia's mostly-no-longer-independent-but-haven't-quite-reached-full-maturity crop of designers including Dion Lee, Ellery, Magdalena Valevska, Josh Goot and the just gone winner of the Tiffany's award, Christopher Esber. Sydney's hottest talents in other words ;).
I was actually just at the Docklands in the daytime having a wonder wardrobe re-do, throwing things out, donating pieces and just reinvigorating items that needed to see the light of day in a new way. I donned my Lanvin jacket from the collection by Alber Elbaz just before Lucas Ossendrijver took the reins (and decorated it with a piece of the softest creamy raw edged leather) and my Jean Paul Gaultier croc emboss leather bag with amber perspex closure and jumped in the cab! And yes, there were certainly pants and shoes too...
The ladies at the media desk were lovely, and I was even told that I could come back the next day and they'd be able to find me a space to sit and do my photos, updates and all the rest.
The lady who was to take me to my seat was a different ballgame altogether.
To her it was as if I didn't exist. She eyed me up and down and walked off with someone else, leaving me standing in the middle of the runway as people took their seats left right and centre. When I seemingly imposed on her return journey to politely enquire as to my seating arrangement, the up and down look again and a disinterested questioning of where I was from, she lead me to the furthest seat in the top top row. Great start you might say.
Well, ultimately it was a blessing in disguise, and let me explain why.
As the lights went down I scooted independently, yes naughty me, to the little crevice in the stairs at the end of the second row and huddled close to person in the last seat so as to make it look like I was supposed to be there. (Confessions of a fashion gatecrasher!)
This actually lent me an unobstructed view of the very front of the runway, the gigantic video screens, the photographers' pit, generally not a bad place to be. But given the angle was so great it also meant that I was essentially relegated to be able to only see a side view of each and every look that came down the runway.
And the show started: Celine, Givenchy, Christopher Kane, Marios Schwab, Comme des Garcons Comme des Garcons (the second line of you guessed it, Comme des Garcons), fabulous collections indeed.
Oh wait, no, hang on, mint green, bright purple, digital prints, fused raw edged leather, gold lame (accent added). All very lovely, but I somehow got the feeling I'd seen it all before. I'm not a hater, I just like it when designers really put themselves and their work out there for the world to see. Mistakes are allowed, not one collection is ever perfect but that's where one learns.
Everything I saw was so easy, so wearable, well, Ellery's stiff golden bodices, skirts and dresses are questionably wearable, but then they're not 'designed' enough for me to see where she was coming from. Perhaps its my fault and I'm missing it.
I come back to the title of this particular post, why the back and side view?
Little tidbit, models seem to like to naturally turn left (unless they walk down in tandem and then it would be weird if there were two left turners). Sitting on the right hand side of the runway gave me a whole host of backs to look at, and photograph as you will see further down.
As an avid reader of witty yet gritty fashion journalism I am a great fan (aren't we all) of Tim Blanks, who has for decades written and commented on fashion, with a voice that excites and conjures up strong, vivid visuals. He speaks his mind, and clearly loves fashion so much that his critiques can be harsh but ultimately for the best. In his reviews during Paris Fashion Week Fall 2012/2013 starting with the Roland Mouret show, he mentions the focus on the backs of the outfits, but these are not depicted in the accompanying slide show.
Later in the week, when reviewing the Comme des Garcons collection where Rei Kawakubo literally flattened her silhouettes as a perhaps too obvious comment on the flattening of fashion (into a computer screen), he mentions Li Edelkoort's opinion on the matter of fashion's reduction to a front on portrait. In this case a back view was not entirely necessary.
It got me thinking about the same idea. At 'fashion school' we were endlessly told to consider the body in 3D, design a harmonious front, back and side of a garment so as to have it encircle the body, lift away from it , or simply make a basic design more visually interesting. This notion has stayed with me up till now (and no doubt still will). Its important to differentiate your work by considering all sides, angles and details, outside and in of course. At this show I felt there really not enough of an emphasis on this; everything was just too front-centric. Perhaps this is why the photography pit, alive and flashing as the models came down the runway, was silent and flashless as they turned and walked back up it. Perhaps photographers just don't sell enough back shots to warrant a waste of space on a memory card to fill it with back views.
This is all a little bit sad isn't it. Fashion should be uplifting and exciting, not mopey and depressing ,like this article it seems... :s
But wait, not all hope is lost. A.F Vandevorst's Fall 11/12 collection did not appear on Style.com until a day after it was shown. This is certainly professional suicide (or homicide rather), and as such I believe, without any proof of course, that the website's compensation was to include the back shots of the entire show. Luckily, there was a strong focus on the back in this collection, that although had the somewhat standard 34 looks, was now 68 images in the slideshow. I am rather happy to see that up till today it has not been edited and all back can still be seen. (The following season it was back to normal, though undoubtedly the backs were interesting for Spring 12 too).
Enjoy my side/back, and some front shots of LMFF 4 and definitely check out the Comme des Garcons Fall 12/13 show and A.F Vandevorst Fall 11/12 show on style.com.
You may see, while scrolling down quickly, that some of the models are not wearing their shoes. Word on the grapevine blogosphere was that this was some kind of silent protest as to the heights of shoes and the rights of models. I love my model friends, they are very sweet girls, but I'm a staunch believer in professional conduct and for better or worse its a part of the job. A friend of mine has told me that models have no union, ankles get snapped, lifelong injuries occur, but we agreed to disagree. After all, Naomi Campbell still walks around in murderous vicious heels, and her fall at Vivienne Westwood was epic (Google the picture, or even better, maybe YouTube the video!)
Coming soon, my top three (3) shows from each of the four (4) fashion weeks!