Is it curtains for fashion shows?

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Rumours are suggesting that fashion shows are well, going out of fashion. Blame the economy, blame the internet, the fact is that some designers are bailing out of the show circuit, leaving crater-sized holes in the international fashion week schedules. Is this a good thing? After all, it’s no surprise that fashion shows guzzle more money than Bernard Madoff, perhaps those funds could be put to more sensible use? But without fashion shows, what would Paris Hilton do for kicks? Here I present the argument for and against.

The drama! The excitement!
The clue is in the word ‘show’. Go to a Galliano, Chanel or McQueen show and you are in for a fabulous theatrical treat worthy of a gala night at the Royal Opera House. It’s all there – the anticipation, the pre-event people-watching, the fanfare of the show itself, the backstage drama, the music/hair/make-up/styling. The tears, the tantrums, the models! Not to mention the crackle of excitement when word gets out that Prince, Grace Jones or Michael Jackson is in the house. (Who can forget Julien MacDonald’s tacky but rather clever coup of a Jacko lookalike at his show many years ago? Or the legendary Philip Treacy shows featuring Grace Jones slithering down the catwalk to a techno soundtrack and rapturous applause?) If you’re lucky enough to get a ticket to a McQueen show you are very priviledged indeed. Whether or not the clothes are ‘you’, you are guaranteed a night to remember (and not just because of the 90-minute wait you will quite probably have to endure for the show to start).

Front row fun
No shows equals no front-row politics which means less fun for the rest of us. Because who doesn’t love to watch the mini soap operas unfolding before us as we decode the body language betwixt Miss-editor-of-a-glossy, Miss-WAG-in-training and Miss-too-cool-for-school-indie-pop-star all squashed on the same bench in full view of, well everyone?

I’m a celebrity (no, really I am)
Much as many a serious fashion editor hates celebrities (well wouldn’t you if you were trying to do your job and some B-lister delayed the show by pandering to the paps?) it must be acknowledged that celebs do have their uses. After all, if it wasn’t for the paid-for celeb attendance at certain shows (cough Miss Sixty cough), would the photographers even bother to cover them? And less publicity means fewer sales. On a wider scale, it could be argued that in recent years it’s the celebrities who have given fashion its huge following by the general public. So get rid of the shows and the celebs could well lose interest in Marc, Karl and Luella altogether.

All about the goody bags
Perhaps most importantly, if we have no shows then we certainly have NO USE FOR GOODY BAGS. Now this is serious stuff, no? For a seasoned show-goer, those little packages of hope that sit on our chairs provide a welcome respite to the grind of 9am-9pm toing and froing with nary a sandwich or a cup of tea to provide a break in the proceedings. At least a lovingly tissue-wrapped gift makes us feel like we really are wanted and cared-for (yes, we are that gullible, lack of food and sleep makes us feel a bit deluded).

The ‘presentation’ – it’s the new black
Yet on the flip side, there are many good reasons to jettison the show format. On the menswear front, this week Marni cut back its fashion show to a ‘presentation’. Definition: hot male models milling around amongst ‘guests’ sans catwalk, ie up close and personal. Er, what’s the problem? Presentations mean less hanging around, a better view of the clothes and a more civilised atmosphere. Sign me up immediately! Of course, they also mean rather dull hair/make-up/styling but if budgets are being slashed then I’m afraid it’s au revoir to expensive stylists and make-up artists.

Surprise me
The demise of the traditional show could lead to designers being more imaginative in how they present their collections. Stella McCartney was ahead of the curve last September when she showed her Adidas line on real athletes doing -gasp! – actual workouts. Although the photos don’t look quite as special in the runway reports, an attention-grabbing concept is still a plus. How nice to not know what to expect until you get there, rather than steeling yourself for the inevitable cold, derelict warehouse slap bang in the middle of nowheresville.

Let’s meet in the middle
Which brings me neatly to my biggest point in the debate. Ultimately, fewer shows mean less hanging around and pavement-pounding and potentially more time at my desk Getting Work Done. People forget that fashion editors still have a department to run and that magazines don’t stop functioning simply because the show circus is in town. So to conclude, how about a compromise? The big guns – Dior, Armani, Louis Vuitton – who can pull the celebs and supermodels could show in the mornings while the smaller labels could have presentations, parties, videos, soirees – whatever cool, innovative ‘happening’ they can think up. This would keep the buzz going, keep the foreign press/buyers in attendance (Brit designers do put on the best parties, no contest) and keep the designers in the news (celebs love a fashion party even more than a show). And of course, most importantly, we could carry on the tradition of the Goody Bag. There you have it, problem solved.

Kidrobot arrives at Selfridges

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Happy happy Obama day!

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Anyone else too excited to sleep?

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Something to cheer you up on a blue Monday…

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Not a fashion post but some friends worked on this ad for T-Mobile. Check it out, it’s so fun!

Desperately seeking…

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I have been missing playing my old 45s recently and am actively seeking a replacement for my old Columbia portable record player. I originally bought it from APC back in the day when they had a shop in Ledbury Road but the needle conked out a while ago and we haven’t managed to find a replacement. So a new turntable is called for. Can I find one anywhere? No I can’t!

I would die for this one…(£155 already and another 2 days to go) but really I’m pining for my Columbia. Any leads?

Five fashiony things I learnt this week

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1) 15 year-old photographer Eleanor Hardwick (above) caught my eye a few months ago in a newspaper supplement. If you’re in the West country, try and stop by her exhibition at the Here Gallery in Bristol from Feb 5 – March 8.

2) Kim Gordon has collaborated with Marni to produce a watercolour print on bags and tees for the new Marni Summer Edition range.

3) Back in the day, prospective Balenciaga customers had to pay $1000 just to attend the show, whether or not they ended up buying anything. (Source: Wednesday night’s Style On Trial on BBC4 featuring the designer David Sassoon whose references to ‘model-girls’ was so sweet and endearing. UK bloggers can watch it here.)

4) There’s still plenty of mileage in the expensive super-thin T-shirt market. Newly landed at is LA-based Kain – expect to see the scoop-necked, baggy-pocketed tees gracing the pages of Grazia (and the backs of Kate, Sienna et al) by April.

5) New photography book alert! Danielle Levitt’s ‘We Are Experienced’ offers up portraits of American teens from pampered princesses to high school cheerleaders via Kentucky beauty queens.

Unveiled: Dover Street Market SS09

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It was all go this afternoon at the press preview of the Dover Street Market new-season switchover. I was greeted by the beginnings of a queue of eager young BAPE types outside – surely they weren’t queuing just for the new season collections? Duh, of course not, these die-hards were here for the preview opening of the DSM piece de resistance, the Nowhere pop-up shop. Backstory: 15 years ago, friends and collaborators Nigo (A Bathing Ape) and Jun Takahashi (Undercover) opened a shop in Harajuku Tokyo called Nowhere which soon became something of a cult phenomenon. This season, Dover Street Market invites the two brands to recreate Nowhere in its basement.

This little bunker, complete with copies of the original fittings (you’ve gotta love the Japanese and their attention to detail) will sell Bathing Ape (to replace the shop in Golden Square) and Undercover for the next six months. The queue outside? Nigo is doing a book signing this evening and these afficionados had come to meet their hero. Typically, the PRs were very protective of ‘the brand’ and wouldn’t let me near with my Lumix. Tut. But PR Anoushka did let me take a snap of her natty nails!

I was intrigued as to how things will pan out queue-wise once the shop re-opens proper tomorrow. BAPE customers are known for their fanatical queuing (Nigo book signing or no) but will they be allowed to queue inside the store? Or will they be banished to the street? Either way, the DSM/Nowhere hook-up is a stroke of genius. In this climate, queuing customers is something of a rarity so to have an almost guaranteed daily queue (believe me, the bunker is tiny) of cash-rich young people is not to be sniffed at. Plus, those self same customers would be hard pushed not to want to snap up a few of the goodies elsewhere in the store. I’d say it’s win-win all round.

Dragging myself away from Nowhere, the rest of DSM looked as enticing as ever. Where to start? The Loewe handbags and jewels perched upon vintage suitcases? The mouthwatering Junya Watanabe/Trickers brogues in red and green? The decidedly unsporty Moncler jackets – not a puff in sight?

Comme menswear was a sight for winter-fatigued eyes – all colour-popping dip-dyed jeans and Joseph Albers-influenced patchwork layering. Charles Anastase’s area came complete with one of his pencil illustrations and lethal clodhopper platform shoes dangling precariously from the ceiling. Mind your heads!

Lanvin’s display on the third floor has been tricked out ‘to resemble a busy internet café/office environment, complete with desktops linked via chat.’ Believe me, this is the most glamorous internet cafe you’ll ever set eyes on. Finally, I was rather tickled to see a rail of Comme woollen thermals – longjohns included – amongst all the tees and knits. Who said Comme Des Garcons was unwearable?

Switched on

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To go with your ‘digital handbag’… the new computer cables from Lacie in a very on-trend Jonathan Saunders palette…

Quote of the day

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“We have no budget. We do what we want and throwing money out the window brings money back in through the front door. The bottom line is I don’t deal with the bottom line. The luxury in my life is I never have to think about it.”
Karl Lagerfeld