Saturday, 19 September 2009

Runway: Then vs Now

Now we're in the thick of 'fashion month,' with all the spring/summer 2010 women's shows happening in the four main fashion capitals, the question of how the clothes themselves are shown on the runway comes to mind. There's a drill that's been in place for several years now: fashion editors, buyers etc. battle in past hoards of street style photographers; take their seats, and fan themselves furiously with the pre-show notes during the inevitable delay while the invited celebrities cause havoc outside (unless it's Marc Jacobs, in which case the show starts bang on time, celebrities or not - as Lady GaGa found to her peril last week); maintain looks of disinterested glacial superiority while said celebrities finally take their seats; stick-thin Russian 16 year olds stomp angrily along the runway to techno beats (sometimes falling thanks to vertiginous footwear) pulling their best 'fierce' faces; then it's all over within about 10 minutes, and it's time to air-kiss the designer before rushing back to your blacked-out town car, to go and repeat the exercise about 10 times more over the course of the day.

It has not always been thus. Before fashion got as full-on and crazy as it is today, it seems things used to move at a more civilized pace. Just look at this video of Yves Saint Laurent fall/winter 1995 Haute Couture - a small audience perched in a salon style show room, decorated with thousands of flowers (no cavernous warehouses or 'edgy' basements); the show was set to opera, not thumping 'stomp along' music, and lasted for nearly half an hour; and the poise and elegance of the models (particularly love Carla Bruni), who were not hungry girls from Eastern Europe, barely in their teens, is incredible:

Compared to Yves Saint Laurent fall/winter 2008:

Obviously times have changed, and it's too easy to be fuzzily nostalgic about these things. We know it's not a totally fair comparison to set Haute Couture against ready-to-wear, and we're not saying that every show now would be better as a full-on classical blow-out, and now editors, buyers etc. have to fit so much more in to their schedules, longer shows wouldn't be practical.. but that's not to say designers couldn't take some lessons from the past, particularly where models are concerned. We just love the 1995 Yves Saint Laurent models, and the way they move so fluidly, and slip off jackets and the like to fully demonstrate the outfits. It would be nice if we saw some more of that today, along with more women - as opposed to very young girls - on the runways.


  1. You're so right. I'm not sure which one I'd rather watch, though I think I'd be a lot more comfortable in the '95 (or at least less afraid that the models would consume me). Fashion's a cycle - will it ever go back to that?


  2. Ethically, I would rather watch the earlier show- real models with meat on them (or at least, more meat than current models have, which is none) and a smaller crowd.