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Live Fashion « DressLab : clothes+music+art
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Live Fashion

Author: Estel Vilaseca

Section: NOTES

Date: 11.2012


Alexandre Betak, artistic director for Bureau Betak and fashion show designer for Dior, Rodarte and Acne, once said in an interview that there is nothing more boring than the retransmission of a fashion show. In his concern for the telegenic quality of this type of show, he emphasised the importance of camera placing, lighting and the fact that everything be designed with retransmission in mind. Betak started in the business at a very young age, many years ago, when the only fashion events shown on the television were those that could be seen on FashionTV. Nowadays fashion television has spread to the internet and we can enjoy the entertainment from virtually any screen.

“There’s no going back for me now. I’m going to take you places you never thought possible.” With these words Alexander McQueen announced the live retransmission of his first show. That was the 6th of October, 2009, in the Plató Atlantis, with the invaluable help of photographer Nick Knight, the founder of Showstudio. While some brand names, such as Burberry, had, in the past, offered the possibility of watching their shows via streaming, these two were the first to conceive the spectacle ex professo. The imposing, mechanical-looking cranes shared protagonism with the models. At the time, three years ago now, Knight told The Daily Beast: “we’re trying to convert fashion shows into far more popular events.” The word ‘popular’, used here, is pivotal, as fashion today is not just a refuge for eccentrics. Demand, coupled with the importance of social networks and the availability of ever-increasing bandwidths allows fashion shows to be viewed live, transforming them into the new phenomena for popular culture. In other words, McQueen set a milestone, with what turned out to be his final show.


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During the last season, Showstudio itself employed a comprehensive array of informative measures. Along with the customary catwalk photos there were videos relaying backstage highlights, a panel of experts commenting on the more eagerly awaited collections, real-time illustrations and mapping, via Instagram and Twitter, of some of what Showstudio considered to be the more relevant accounts. This combination allowed the public to experience the palpable excitement in the atmosphere from a variety of perspectives and in luscious detail before, during and after the shows. The arrival of celebrities and glitzy editors, the behind-the-scenes, last-minute panic and the surprises on the catwalk are retransmitted with the same sense of excitement as a Formula 1 race.


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This analogy with the world of sport is very clear to Judy Licht, creator of “Full Frontal Fashion” and founder of FirstComesFashion.com. “These are the fashion Olympics. (…) and since fashion is a kind of sport for women, we’re using sports as a role model”, she told The New York Times. In the same way as with sporting events, the transmission is accompanied by commentary from experts who both emphasise and debate the messages being sent out. Alongside the bigger brand names, FirstComesFashion also promotes fashion shows for smaller brands that don’t appear in conventional publications.


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The real-time web that has become the benchmark this year, however, is NowFashion. While video succeeds in relaying the overall atmosphere along with the accompanying music (most important), the real nitty-gritty is in the detail, which can be captured far better in fixed images than it can in movement. This site offers live photos of the very best shows and, once the show is over, all that remains is to scroll through the photos for a quick analysis of what the designer has revealed on the catwalk. It goes without saying that there are photos from the front row and from virtually every angle, as well as a profusion of additional information about the fashion system in general. “If you’re a fashion addict, you can’t miss the opportunity to watch live fashion shows from the comfort of home”, is the claim. Once again, we’re not talking about experts here, we’re talking about all fashion lovers.


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Obviously, all this talk about having access to fashion shows on a here and now basis has its consequences. The most obvious of these is the absurdity that supposes having to wait six months to buy that wonderful garment we have just seen on the catwalk. These are perversions of the system, and Zara will probably have a clone out even before we get the chance to buy the original. Some experts say this benefits the high-fashion brand names as it separates them from the crowd. Others say it’s a clear sign that the cycle of seasons is coming to an end. While the fashion world seeks to reposition itself, some businesses are already focussing on the new pace being set by web 3.0 technologies. Moda Operandi, which offers advance sales from private fashion shows, can be considered a pioneer in this field. The site, created by Voguette Lauren Santo Domingo, offers the opportunity to acquire garments that have just come off the catwalk.


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In my opinion, all I have said here is just the first step towards those worlds predicted by McQueen. Universes that I imagine will be far more creative, sensory and spectacular. A lot remains to be seen and done.


Text. Estel Vilaseca




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