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?
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews