Just as we get nicely comfortable with the idea of fashion for all, the goal posts shift again. Fashion’s Night Out was a fabulously jolly affair with customers, celebs and designers all happily sharing the same breathing space. This round of fashion weeks will have more brands than ever live-streaming their shows, while a number of designers and CEOs also tweet from behind the scenes (hello @vbfashionweek, @MarcJacobsInt). Marc Jacobs’ tweeter, CEO Robert Duffy has also been giving away bags and surfboards (eh?) to lucky tweeters, creating quite the fashion frenzy. Very caring, very sharing.
But just when it was getting so cosy and democratic – BAM! – all change. Yes Burberry is live streaming its show online and broadcasting it on screens in-store but those in-store iPads aren’t just for any old civilian. No, the in-store treatment is for a select few privileged customers, so while they get to watch, shop and quaff champagne in the luxe surroundings of Burberry’s serene-but-sexy temples, the rest can press their noses against the window and like it will have to make do with their iPad at home on the DFS with a cup of PG Tips for company.
Tom Ford made his much anticipated and (not-very-well-kept) secret comeback yesterday during New York Fashion Week and what a to-do there was. No live-streaming for Ford. Instead there was a small salon-style show where only a handful of VIP press were present and they were strictly instructed that “all photographic and recording devices are prohibited. Thank you.”
Ford introduced each outfit modelled by an all-star cast including Beyonce, Lauren Hutton and Julianne Moore. How thrilling! And the outfits? Well we won’t be seeing those for quite some time, the official pictures were taken by Terry Richardson (allegedly for French Vogue) and are embargoed until next year. Blimey, New York Fashion Week has never been this exciting. Ford has clearly decided that all this ‘fashion for everyone’ guff has reached its tipping point and is leading the charge in the opposite direction. At his preposterously luxe end of the market, he’s making a case for super-exclusivity, the kind where customers are more than happy to pay for the privilege of wearing something that’s not been seen on every other Tom, Dick and Sharon.
Is Ford onto something here? It was noted recently that Chanel has scissored its sample sale guest list. The Chanel sample sale invitation is already one of the most coveted perks in the fashion and beauty business and invitations are like gold dust. The culling of the list sent out a firm message; for all that they may be embracing bloggers, setting up etail sites and interacting on Facebook, there’s no doubt that exclusivity still has meaning for luxury fashion brands. Just ask Tom.