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Fashion Week is Funny

Well, Australian Fashion Week is coming to a much desired end, so I thought it appropriate to re-post this story I wrote for my friend's magazine Monster & Midget (which you should all totally check out) when I was approaching the finale of a two week run at fashion weeks in New York and London. The main reasons I am doing this is because a) a story fell through, b) I'm too tired to do anything else and c) it's totally relevant.

But then maybe I'm just a little cranky. It's been a long week.

Seeing as I was going to be in New York and London during the autumn winter shows, I decided to make good out of my rather unlucrative passion for writing and register for two of the world’s largest fashion weeks. Seduced by daydreams of Mary-Kate Olsen applying my eyeliner and Victoria Beckham pouting me into oblivion, I was pretty excited to sit next to them and become friends. Plus, I have pretty clothes. Everyone knows that you get far in life with pretty clothes.

I noticed a few things during those two weeks.

1) You don’t get to sit next to Mary-Kate.
When I approached my first show, it was sort of exciting. French Fashion TV wanted to talk to me! But then again, they wanted to talk to everybody. But so what! I was going to be on TV in France!
Has anyone seen me yet?
Anyway, so I got to the front of the line of Toni Maticevski’s show, and waited to be ushered to my seat – only, there was no seat. NO SEAT. Here I was, representing AUSTRALIA, and the bloody country’s own designer didn’t give me a seat. Oh, and you know what? There was no Mary-Kate. Take THAT, Maticevski.
I quickly realised that Americans by and large think Australia is a small town in the middle of England, so when you tell them you’re an editor from there they tend to pat you on the head and giggle. And the worst part? Australian designers overseas seem to think that, too. Little man syndrome I guess.
In the rare occasion that you do get a seat, the eight rows of heads in front of you obstruct the view a little. But whatever, right? This is FASHION WEEK! You’re there for the spectacle!

2) It really is just a spectacle.
If you’re sitting in the eighth row, you’re not there to see the clothes, and neither is anyone from about row three up. Truth be told, if you’re that far back, you may as well be sitting at home watching the collections in front of the heater and That way, you might even get to see whether the model was wearing shorts or pants. Plus, your feet will thank you for not standing in sub-zero temperatures in your pretty open-toed shoes. And they may not be so frost-bitten.
At the end of the day, fashion week is the industry’s version of the Oscars. It’s all about the lights, the cameras and trying DESPERATELY to get the Sartorialist to notice you. The industry has become less about true passion for the art of style and design and more about showing up in the latest blog with a smile that doesn’t make your face look fat. Screw the collection – a show’s success is defined by how many celebrities attend it, and exactly what entails a celebrity is becoming more ambiguous by the day. It’s the era of The Rachel Zoe Project and Project Runway: fashion is where you find fame, and everybody knows it, including the idiot lining up in front of you whose conversation, as much as you try, is unavoidably within earshot. And, inevitably, unavoidably irritating. But you can’t smack him! This is FASHION! Just be nice!

3) Everyone’s not really nice, and everything is not as it seems.
Fashion is a funny industry, and by funny I mean highly ironic and rather absurd. Love those new season Gucci boots and the redesign of Vogue? Well, if you work in fashion, you won’t be able to afford EITHER OF THEM. Or dinner, but that’s encouraged. Smiles are usually formed through gritted teeth or the influence of cocaine, so most of the time, they’re not all that real, and it doesn’t really matter whether you have Valium in your pocket or not – you have to smile back. It’s the rule… but feel free to bitch about it on your way out.
The fact is, the fashion industry stands on its own in the world, and often separates itself from it through a fa├žade of elitism that isn’t really believed by anyone who isn’t either within it or aspiring to be. Within the bubble of Fashion Toast and net-a-porter, the fact that there are wars being fought, people who are starving and nuclear bombs being built is in another universe entirely – one that is way too far away for the critical eye to see. The furthest galaxy that it typically reaches is maybe Just Jared. And that’s a big maybe.

Now, in saying all that, I love fashion, and I guess I am everything I hate about it. I do WANT to sit front row, I sure as hell wouldn’t mind being photographed for the Sartorialist and really, I know the world is fucked up and I for one think there is little that can be done to change it – so I may as well play with clothes.

I’m just truly grateful that not everyone thinks the same way I do.

words: Seema Duggal


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