Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New York Fashion Week: The Good, The Bad And The 50 Shades of Ugly.

 Those of us who are hard wired to the Fashion calendar know that there are very few events in the Fashion year that deserve careful attention. New York Fashion Week, which is about to start tomorrow, is one of them and  this time it coincides with the opening of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Personally, I am equally excited about both. Never a great sports person, I nevertheless have a high degree of admiration for the athletes of Olympic Games. The same degree of admiration I have for those designers who are capable of making it to New York Fashion Week with their sanity in tact. I always thought of the New York Fashion Week as Olympic Games of Fashion. Sure, we get to see it on display far more often than once every four years, but condensed tension and excitement of it run equal to the coveted universal sports event. This Season, however, will differ form all the rest...When I saw Fall Winter 2013 Collection by Alexander Wang (the image you see above) my imagination immediately ran to the book I read many years ago, the memory of which left me with a heavy hart to this very day: "The Gulag Archipelago" by Alexander Solzhenizin. It depicted a history of Stalin's concentration camps during the Soviet era in Russia, the book became a powerful document created in memory of millions lives lost to Soviet regime. Grey, pale, washed out models walking down Wang's runway, bundled up in grey knits, covering head, neck and chest reminded me of the illustrations and photographs of soviet women serving time in the prison camps of Gulag. I saw no beauty in this Collection, quite opposite I felt if there is such thing as 50 shades of ugly, this got to be it (although the original illustration by Wang you see below seemed to be rather cute). "Ugly" is the kind of word that somehow became one of those forbidden words on the list of "politically incorrect". It is almost never used even though ugly clothes, ugly shoes, ugly hats, ugly make up and hair, ugly bags get displayed in abundance even during high ranking Fashion events like New York Fashion Week. The line between ugly and what is now referred to as "designer's expression of his creative side" is completely gone. At times it feels like whatever is walking down the runway is not really a Fashion Show, but a prank, a practical joke played on the audience. We are all expected to swallow it with a pleasant smile because oh well, you know "it's Fashion! Johnny felt like dressing women in pickled shrimp for Spring. Isn't it fabulous? ". Instead I suggest we all need a very serious reality check to guard us against the confidence of the indulged posers. Until now one of the very rare people to spell it out as it is was the infamous critic of The New York Times Ms. Cathy Horyn, who recently resigned her position and no longer will be covering Fashion Week. This, my friends, are possibly the saddest news to many of us who feel that balanced, well written, well referenced reviews of the Fashion Week are a great rarity. It is a kind of luxury , almost extinct at this point (if not for the efforts of critics like Cathy Horyn, Zusy Menkes, Tim Blanks among very few others). I don't know how you feel, but I feel that tremendous number of reviews written by glossy outlets, bloggers, on line fashion publications are sugar coated to the point of tooth ache. You end up with a clear impression that you just witnessed a King being naked while being fed a watery review of designer inspirations and ideas. Who cares!? Who cares about designer inspiration behind the collection if the Collection you just saw with your own two eyes left you feel disappointed and uninspired at best and in serious need of a double vodka on the rox at worst. Which brings me to the second point: one of the largest changes this Fashion Season is the effort of IMG to cut down on the number of attending Bloggers. 20% of them will not be accredited to  attend. To those who had a privilege to present during MBFW in New York it is a welcoming change. I can't help but feel that many of the fashion reviews written by Fashion Bloggers are more damaging to the industry and more specifically to the designers, than we realize. This so-called reviews are often nothing but a set of bad quality images from the show done via IPhone or IPad with very few ridiculously idiotic, simple sentences more to the effect of "it was really cool to see pink stripes on the socks" directed to provide visibility to the Blogger rather than to the designer. Its a self serving frenzy which has nothing to do with Fashion itself and everything to do with almost obsessive need to be seen against MBFW background. In late August of 2013 when the list of presenting designers was published by MBFW, my mailbox collapsed several times under the tremendous amounts of requests good part of which came from the Blogger community. I have instructed my PR team to go through every request carefully and make sure that invitations are issued only to those Bloggers who have very impressive record in covering events like this. Impressive meaning that this particular Blogger has a tremendous influence on forming the opinion, knows Fashion, creates editorials and has substantial Press. There were very few of those. Several wrote back expressing their disappointment and even anger with our refusal for invitation. To those, for the future reference, I would like to say the following: MBFW is an event for professionals of the Industry. It takes me, as a designer, a tremendous effort emotionally, physically and financially to make it to the Fashion Week. All of this investments are made in order to excel the name of the brand, expose the brand to the professionals who can influence farther advancement of the brand and display the work which is the result of months and months of strenguous production. I, as a designer, do not invest all of what is required to entertain you, accommodate you with really expensive party or provide a you with a glamorous background for taking selfies. On a lighter note, I am excited to see that many of the established designers will be presenting in the variety of different venues this Season as suppose to all being centralized with in the Lincoln Center. Versatility in presentations gives it a very special, more personal, more controlled approach to how the Collection is displayed. I am a great believer that Presentation is everything and I am also super excited to consider different, more suitable and intimate venue to present my Collection next September. :-) I am hoping that latest changes in IMG will help to make the experience of the Fashion Week much less stressful for those who present and for those who attend. We need a little bit more glamour and a little bit less of industrial side. After all, it is all about that illusive moment of Magic we are all looking forward to being a witness to!


Natalia | Fashioned by Love said...

Да уж, к сожалению, очень многие коллекции, да и отклики о них, дают мне ощущение того, что я нахожусь в сказке о голом короле (или постепенно схожу с ума). А про блоггеров я вообще молчу… Я знаю, что я тоже пишу о моде как блоггер (не люблю я это слово, если честно, корявое оно…), но я живу этим миром, фантазией, историей, из которых он состоит. И искренне считаю, что моду нужно знать и изучать, прежде чем писать о ней или называться "блогером". Но знаешь, такие как я, не популярны… Меня надо читать, тебя вот - тоже… Это - нагрузка на мозг. Легче просто покрутиться в платьице, стильно или нет - и будет и толпа, и признание, и название "модный блогер"… И что до того, если этот блогер искренне считает, что Нина Риччи сейчас создается женщиной-дизайнером, которую так и зовут, или то, что Тэд Бейкер - это дизайнер из Нью Йорка, или кричит о том, что Симонс - это ну просто ваааааабще отпад и гений и все его коллекции для Диор - просто ну красота неописуемая… даже если из красоты нитки торчат и крой - как из очумелых ручек… Грустно становится.
Ну да ладно. Накипело, наверное. :) За моду! И все хорошее, что она несет.

Hania Bulczyńska said...

Dear Anya, what a pleasure to read! And immediately after seeing the grey photo, another set of photographs came to my mind. Photographs of a big fashion event in Poland, lets say GRAMMY OF FASHION in a free transalation. And just by looking at the post below- no language is needed here- people from all over the world can presume that Poland is still in the era of Gulag! And I am supposed to design something for Poles? Impossible!
Luckily my mind is colourful!
Have a nice production time and fill all of us with your inner beauty!

Anya Caliendo said...

Наташа, таких блоггеров как ты крайне мало, но они, кстати, и относятся к самой стеснительной категории блоггеров - никогда не напишут и не попытаются получить приглашение. Другое дело это наглая пена (я так их называю) которая считает что достаточно открыть блог, черкнуть пару обзацев слизанныхс интернета, добавить пару селфис и дело в кармане. Они кака саранча и совершено не так безобидня как кажется на первый взгляд! К счастью я, как дизайнер, могу контролировать ситуации и не допускать цирка на своей собственной презентации. Мне тоже очень часто бывает обидно, но с другой стороны как прекрасно что есть своя голова на плечах и как прекрасно что есть такие люди как ты, которых читаешь с удовольствием. Поверь, нас тоже много, а вот шелуха она сама собой отвалится, это просто дело времени. :-)

Anya Caliendo said...

Hania, the choice is really very simple: are you in grey zone or are you capable of creating your own territory? I think you know the answer. :-)

VM Creation Atelier said...

Настоящее изучение направлений моды,трендов и прочее....Вообще все что связано с серьезным и глубоким пониманием темы,любой темы,требует очень внимательного подхода! Вы абсолютно правы,Аня!
К сожалению на сегодняшний день практически весь интернет пестрит яркими картинками так называемых "страстных" поклонников моды,которые превращают на самом деле моду лишь в яркую красочную обложку,никак не связанную с истинной красотой и направлениями в моде.

Индустрия моды превращает моду в какую-то массу,да массу из которой к сожалению не легко увидеть настоящие жемчужины!
Но жемчужины ЕСТЬ,слава Богу!:)))*

Спасибо огромное Вам,Анечка за Ваш пристрастный,искренний из глубины души пост!

Искренне Ваша,


Очень люблю читать блог Натали-"Fashioned by Love''