The future of fashion? See by Chloe makes its catwalk debut online
Does the world really need fashion shows? This morning's See by Chloé presentation certainly made a healthy case against them.
See by Chloé, the second line of French fashion house Chloé, made its Paris Fashion Week catwalk debut today. But there was no star-studded front row, no bank of photographers, not even any press or buyers. Instead, they took the futuristic decision to only show their new collection online.
Fashion's elite could argue that without being there, seeing the clothes in the flesh, and sensing the atmosphere, how can you ever really judge a collection? KCD, the fashion agency behind 'Digital Fashion Shows' have thought of that. This wasn't a livestream, but a pre-recorded catwalk show where every outfit is described as it comes down the runway and every model is name-checked.
There are close-ups of every look, a behind-the-scenes video of the hair and make-up, downloadable images of the entire show at your fingertips, even the show notes which editors would normally find perched on their seat explaining the designer's vision and references are there. The only thing missing was the opportunity to go backstage and air-kiss the designer.
So is this the future of fashion journalism? Weary editors and publications with ever decreasing budgets have been desperately trying to work out a more streamlined way to cover the bi-annual fashion collections for sometime. I'm not in Paris, but yet I got to see this show up close, and I for one don't feel I've been cheated out of the firsthand 'experience' of rushing through Paris trying to get a taxi, queuing in the rain to get in, sitting on an uncomfortable seat while waiting the requisite half an hour for the show to start and then having my vision obscured by a fashion blogger holding up an iPad to take blurry photos of the models.
It's fair to note at this point that it does very much depend on the show you are seeing. Probably around 80 per cent of catwalk shows follow a tried and tested formula, are very business-like and in a way, sterile. Then there are the shows which border on theatre - the Alexander McQueen's, Lanvin's and Dior's - which leave the spectator with so much more than an idea about what skirt length we will mostly be wearing next season.
Anyone who attended Raf Simons' final show for Jil Sander last week in Milan will no doubt remember for the rest of their lives the crowd stamping their feet and demanding two curtain calls from the beloved designer who was so emotional, he was moved to tears. You don't get that from a pre-recorded show.
But for a label like See by Chloé, this format more than did the job. The clothes are designed to be off-the-peg wearable - this is not couture - and the styling, hair and make-up reflected that. This line is not intended to change the face of fashion, but that shouldn't invalidate it - there are many shows cramming the schedules of all four major fashion weeks in the same vein.
KCD's 'solution' may well have legs and even if the industry is not ready to sacrifice the physical fashion entirely, then it could at least clear some much-needed space on the schedules and cut down the amount of time that editors need to be travelling - not to mention the astronomical bills fashion houses face to put on such events.
You could call that a win-win situation.