I can’t remember not being utterly infatuated by the fashion industry. Growing up, I watched every fashion related movie—The Devil Wears Prada, 13 Going on 30, Sex and the City—longing to someday have a job like those in these movies. Every February and September for the past three years has solely revolved around one thing: Fashion Week.
This year, I didn’t just follow along with my favorite fashion bloggers’ Insta stories—I got to watch them make them from backstage at Coach and Luar’s Spring/Summer 2018 shows. It turned out that the fashion industry is just as glamorous as I imagined, but just as cutthroat too. And I want to be in.
The Art in an Ensemble
Givenchy inherited a new artistic director this season, Clare Waight Keller, who explained in the brand’s show notes that “Fashion is a tool for self-metamorphosis. It can transform the spirit through a new attitude for new beginnings.” Perhaps this collection is wearable evidence of her enlightened new beginning at Givenchy. Her collection full of rusty red leather, monochrome tiered dresses, and clover prints tapped into the original designs of the founder of Givenchy, Hubert de Givenchy, from 1961.
Designer Joseph Altuzarra said in his show notes this season that the central theme for his Spring/Summer 2018 collection was Nature versus Industry. He was moved by the animated film Princess Mononoke, which centers around the conflict between the Gods of the Forest and the humans who consume its resources. This film took Altuzarra on an “exploration” that inspired his collection about loss of innocence, growing up, and embracing fearlessness.
Coach presented this season’s collection on a glittery replica of a New York City alleyway. Alexander Wang created “#WANGFEST” and had models walk a “runway” in the middle of a street in Brooklyn after stepping one by one off of a party bus. Chromat made history this season for having the most diverse cast; its runway boasted models of every shape, size, and color. Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel brought the cliffs and waterfalls of the Gorges du Verdon to the Grand Palais.
This week gives these designers the opportunity to show the world why they deserve the job they have. So much thought, time, and energy is spent not only just on the ensembles themselves, but also the location, the set, and the cast—all of which plays a significant role in how the audience perceives the collection. And what the designer would have the audience identify is the contemplation in their collections, the art in them.
Art begets art.
Fashion Week around the world also gives fashion bloggers, editors, and influencers the opportunity to take to the streets in their most glamorous ensembles. From head to toe, these outfits are arguably the most significant looks that these people put together the entire year. Fashion photographers crowd the entrances of Fashion Week venues and snap millions of photos as these “fashion people” enter and exit the locations.
Amy Odell, for example, was first introduced to this fashion world when she was hired to write for New York magazine’s fashion blog, The Cut. New York Fashion Week happened to begin on the second day of her new job. With little to no real fashion experience, all Odell knew about Fashion Week was that the most extravagantly stylish outfit was a necessity for her to wear. She was loaned a pair of open-toed glitter booties from Mui Mui and borrowed a stack of Juicy Couture rhinestone-studded bangles and black quilted Chanel purse from her market editor, which she paired with bright red lipstick, paint-splattered boyfriend jeans, a crisp white button-down shirt from Uniqlo, a statement choker by Dannijo that she found in the fashion closet, and a pair of black oversized Prada sunglasses that she once found in the back of a cab.
This community doesn’t just appreciate others’ art, they display their own as they celebrate others. They replicate and tweak and interact with it until it’s their own version of contemplation, expression, and questioning. Many of them ushered into a place of influence themselves because they tried their hand at an artform they admired.
Odell’s look caught the eye of one of these photographers, and the next day, her photo was posted on the Marie Claire website, which then ended up launching her entire career and immediately giving her a highly respectable spot within the fashion community. She’s now the editor of Cosmopolitan’s digital empire and author of Tales from the Back Row, a tell-all autobiography that reveals what it’s really like to work in the fashion industry. She’ll influence countless designers to keep designing and writers to keep writing and editors to keep honoring the art of fashion as the generations pass.
It’s a constant cycle of growth, change, and acceptance of new art.
People might think that everyone in fashion is cut from the same cloth. But fashion week proves otherwise. During these two months each year, throngs of people are brought together from all over the world. For a month, ethnicities and different languages take actual seats next to each other in front of a runway.
People with varying views on political happenings and when it’s okay to wear white choose to celebrate the artform of clothing design. Their unity in purpose defies their differences.
After the presentations, writers for high fashion magazines—professional critics—don’t usually critique the designer’s work. Regardless of whether or not they actually like it or think it’s wearable, you usually only read about how wonderful this season’s looks are. These journalists spend their careers recording the work it takes to make these shows happen, so they put aside their hot takes to honor the beauty within the art that the designers have created.
Being in Vogue
In the little amount of time this season that I got to spend next to the fashion connoisseurs of the world, I learned that God may not actually care about whether Tommy Hilfiger chose to debut his collection on a pier in New York City or in a rock ’n’ roll concert venue in London. He may not care that Givenchy’s new artistic director went a little off brand this season. And, I know he doesn’t actually care that you borrowed a pair of glittery Mui Mui heels to ensure that a street-style photographer would take your picture.
But I learned that he does care about communities. All kinds of them. He cares about the writers who dedicate their lives to circle the globe for two months every year to watch these designers reveal masterpieces in the form of models on a catwalk in delicate, expensive materials. He cares about the humanity and the creativity of each person anxiously anticipating the beauty about to be revealed on that runway.
And he made us creators, too. Whether it’s photographs, extravagant clothing, words typed on a page, or an oil on canvas painting. Just as these editors praise these designers for their incredible work, we can praise him from all over the world for creating us with an ability to create and to appreciate beautiful art.
Despite the reputation it may have, Fashion Week really isn’t just a high-class event that takes place for two months every year for people in fashion to receive elite invites to travel all over the world and attend luxurious fashion shows that debut clothing that nobody is actually going to wear.
Being a part of Fashion Week revealed countless representations of God’s creativity, beauty, and intimate knowledge of each individual he created.
For me, being “in” is more than wanting to be accepted by a community of people who don’t seem to care about anything that wasn’t hand-sewn by Prabal Gurung himself. “In” really means being a part of a specific avenue for reflecting the image of God as a creator.
Cover image by Kris Atomic.
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