Summer school at Harvard. Purdah, the campaign period for British prime minister. Standard in-patient 12-step rehab. Joyce’s “Ulysses.” Lent.
All are shorter than pre-fall. And more interesting.
The pre-seasons don’t just have the longest selling season. Pre-fall has the longest showing season as well — is there anyone on the circuit who wouldn’t love to hit reset?
WWD’s coverage started with Akris on Nov. 13 and ran through Friday, with private-appointment coverage of Roberto Cavalli and Irfé. That’s a span of 10-plus weeks — nearly 20 percent of the year. For pre-fall.
It’s crazy, boring and counterproductive. Even if 70 percent of what we’re seeing is extraordinary fashion — and it isn’t — the season is too long and too drawn out to generate the kind of excitement once considered essential to the fashion professional’s job.
I’m not suggesting that it’s the job of a job — yours, mine, anyone’s — to be endlessly entertaining. It is fashion’s job, and essential to its raison d’être, to excite and entice. That should start with the retailers and press who present the clothes to consumers. In order to transmit excitement to the women who ultimately buy and wear the clothes, those fashion professionals must themselves be excited, and genuinely so. That used to happen easily, back in the days of two collections six months apart. That wonderful anticipatory rush set in as the new season approached.
Now, we’re never not looking at clothes. Or so it seems. It’s thus harder to marshal that same level of excitement. And despite energetic p.r. to the contrary, the more we see during a 10-week pre-season, the less the fashion resonates. This pre-fall, we’ve seen rare glimmers of fashion (among them, Chanel in Dallas, Calvin Klein, Proenza Schouler and Lanvin in New York), and plenty of perfectly nice clothes that will indeed keep the commercial train chugging along. See WWD's Coverage of the Pre-Fall 2014 Collections Here >>
So what’s wrong with that?
There’s nothing wrong with producing, marketing and selling these clothes. But the elongated faux-fashion week context in which they’re shown minimizes the role of real fashion. If this is the important stuff — the bread, the butter, the skirts, pants, jackets and all else that sells — what’s the point of the spring and fall shows? Marketing? Tradition? Mere indulgence? Or are they essential expressions of each designer’s point of view, pushed to its most intense and provocative? Does the industry need such concentrated creative expression, or are endless parades of attractive, serviceable, largely forgettable clothes enough?
In the midst of a dense pre-fall week earlier this month, WWD covered the “Girls” season premiere party. Our coverage included a photo of Anna Wintour in a mink face coat by Miuccia Prada. My first thought: That’s real fashion. While none of us expect to see coats and dresses ablaze with giant faces coming and going on the streets this spring, we hope to see one every now and then. When we saw them distilled into Prada’s fierce, vibrant statement on the spring runway, they thrilled.
That’s a problem for this lengthy pre-fall season. When it comes to fashion shows, the bar is extremely high. The best of the spring and fall ready-to-wear seasons knocks our socks off. And not just the megaproductions — Chanel, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Vuitton, Dior — but those of designers who say something powerful with low-key production values, whether Rei Kawakubo showing Comme des Garçons on a simple plank runway or Joseph Altuzarra in a sparely decked Industria studio.
Don’t get me wrong. I think spring and fall have too many shows, particularly during the user-unfriendly madness of New York. But the concentrated fashion weeks schedule, with each city having a clear start and finish line, provides clarity and context. Within that schedule, the amazing fashion, the fashion that takes your breath away and reminds why you’re in this business, jumps out.
Proclamations to the contrary aside, most designers save their most exciting ideas, their boldest fashion, for spring and fall. Still, were the pre-seasons shown more concisely, they would resonate with more impact and less ho-hum.
I don’t pretend to speak for everyone. But I have not heard one person say, “My, how I love the way pre-fall is handled, how it starts well before Thanksgiving and extends past week three of January, allowing itself to be interrupted by the winter holidays before meandering through the men’s shows and couture. I love that.” I have heard countless critiques along the lines of “a pox on the season.” So why can’t something be done?
I have two ideas.
1. Beginning with pre-fall (which has become longer and more tedious than resort), the organizers of the four major fashion cities should pick a three- to four-week period within the current span of 10 that would become the definitive pre-fall fashion season. Early- to mid-December makes more sense than January. (Sure, there are reasons — fabric deliveries, Christmas, etc. — why some houses show in January. Way back, there were reasons why New York showed spring in November and fall in May; the business changed and designers adjusted.) The city organizers could opt to show consecutively as during fall — New York, London, Milan, Paris — or designers could present at any time during the designated span. New York would remain the primary location, but, as happens now, European houses preferring to show at home would continue to do so.
2. As above, but present 90 percent of pre-fall — the nice, serviceable fare — digitally, via Digital Fashion Shows or a similar medium that’s more than adequate for such clothes. This would reclaim the in-person fashion show for statements of real fashion. How great would that be?
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews