It saddens me what non-industry people ask most about when enquiring as to what I get up to during fashion week. Most often, it’s about “the parties” and seeing celebrities. What I am going to wear, and getting my pictures taken.
And maybe earlier on in my career, this all mattered to me a lot too. In fact, I once wrote an essay titled Why I Like to Get My Picture Taken as a sort of rebuttal to Suzy Menkes’ The Circus of Fashion piece in The New York Times. Taking her piece all very personally (all the more because Menkes, someone I once thought to be a potential mentor, never answered any of my earnest letters) I argued that in a difficult industry that’s notoriously hard to permeate, it felt life-assuring to be at a fashion show and for someone to ask to take your picture. After years of those earnest cover letters and humbling soliciting, low-to-no pay, and emotionally poring over magazines and fashion Tumblrs, it felt very pretty darn nice to be validated. Maybe Menkes doesn’t remember what that need feels like, I thought.
And alas, after a few years in, the Menkes piece resonates more and more. I realized it this current fashion week, while working in bed in my hotel room in Paris. It was a rainy Sunday, where I had no shows to attend. I was in my favourite linen nightgown, had decent room-service coffee and a pack of Salted Gourmet Mix to subsist on. I could listen to the raindrops hitting the window and - most importantly - I finally had the luxury of time to write without constraint. "This is the best day of fashion week", was my immediate thought. I had seen the Haider Ackermann show the day before, and it had really moved me. I felt so happy simply to have the time to give it proper reflection and investigation. And this is when I remembered Menkes’ piece. This opportunity to see this incomparable designer’s work, set to carefully considered music, to see his own emotion backstage, and have the time to attempt to verbalise what all this emotion means - this is the joy of fashion week. There’s no room for ego in this. You have to be driven by the love of the art itself.
And that is what perhaps many journalists have started to hate about fashion week. The bastardization of it all, by egos-aplenty. As they parade around in ostentatious outfits trying to 'get the shot', do they even understand the fashion they are about to see? Do they care about the designers' work?
I’d like to think so, as isn’t it the love of aesthetic that drew them in to fashion in the first place. Isn’t that what draws us all?