Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Balance of Forces on Fashion's Frontrow

Fashion Powerhouses; Suzy Menkes, Michael Roberts, Bryanboy, Sally Singer, Anna Wintour, Hammish Bowles and Tommy Ton on frontrow in Milan
(pic from Dennis Valle/NY Times)

When Sonia Booth threw a hissy fit at the Audi Joburg Fashion Week (JFW) earlier this year due to her seat being taken by a relative “nobody” it was symbolic of the power struggles that grip front rows at fashion weeks across the globe. God-forbid a designer’s publicist places Anna Wintour or Suzy Menkes in second or third row; such would be a literal death wish! Well, in terms of fashion, anyways.
The rise of the fashion bloggers with real superstar clout and influence has brought about a new headache for fashion designers and publicists as they try to allocate seats for editors, buyers, friends of designers and celebrities. Where do they place Bryan Boy or Scott Schuman? They have to be on the front row, their influence is undeniable. Where, then, do the likes of Anna Wintour and her counterparts at Harpers Bazaar, ELLE, W and other influential publication go, without finding themselves next to each other(God Forbid)? Adding to the stress of bloggers needing to placed, there’s also the online editors of fashion publications who- as a result of magazines trying to play catch up with developments that have chowed away at their dominance in the industry- also need to be prominently seated.
The composition of the fashion week front row is indicative of the balance of forces in fashion and as this changes, so does the thinking behind who goes where in those seats. I guess in South Africa, where- bar SA Fashion Week- celebrities and friends of the elite dominate the front row, it is no rocket science where the publicists think fashion power and influence lie, now is it? Okay, okay… Let me be fair. Africa Fashion Week 2010 was kind of different to what had been the trend at the inaugural event as well as JFW, where members of the media could be found on the third or even fourth row.
For me, observing the tussles and the rush to take over front row as soon as the announcement is made that empty seats can be taken is always fascinating. We all love power. Even when it is just a “look”!
Read "At Fashion Week, It's Where You Sit That Counts" in the New York Times

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