HOW THE FRONT ROW LOST IT’S LUSTER
by Jeremy Danté
sandwiched between suzy menkes, michael robber’s of vanity fair, vogue’s virgnia smith & anna wintour, alongside hamish bowles- sat one very lucky blogger; front row at the FW09/10 dolce & gabbana runway show. this singular event signaled the entrance to a new era. for me, i thought it to be confusing, surprising, but most of all unsettling. while im all for digital journalism & the emergence of fashion in a cyber setting, i do- above all, value creativity, skill & knowledge. admittedly, bryanboy was the first fashion blog that i read or began to pay attention to. as one of the more well known blogs on the scene; i didn’t understand how this site, through composition or even selection of content was changing the way we seen fashion, or even how it embodied the creative essence that i now associate with high fashion. from mention of models to noted obsessions with certain labels or fashion headlines- bryanboy did little to nothing in terms of breaking new ground. that said, isn’t that the purpose for new developments in media or even new media platforms? to break new ground? i became aware of blogging in 2003, writing & collecting images posting, then, to a site called xanga. no one blogged with a greater sense of direction at that time, we all used it as a personal journal. but once this new spree of better directed blog spaces began to surface- i tried my hand at it.
after the first tier of fashion bloggers began to win by default, a new wave of bloggers with actual talent began to emerge. of course, bloggers who have been able to tap into greater opportunity with their talents have earned my respect- photographers like tommy ton, garance dore & scott schulman have gone beyond the confines of the title ‘blogger’. using a digital platform to present their portfolios which have turned street style into something of a headlining element, these moves for these individuals are easily respected. bloggers now appear to be puppets; manipulated by major labels & brands, while the disconnect between actual journalism, adept knowledge of fashion history & even demonstrated skill grows wider & wider apart from posting fashion images & talking shit. i can recognize a star when i see one & whole heartedly support talent in a number of industries; but over the course of the last three years, the light that attracted me to the front row has been growing more & more dim. the front row, essentially, is to house editors & fashion heavyweights who make a difference; people who have instrumental value in the placement of certain fashion pieces. in the last twenty years, celebrities have also filled these seats; which has allowed fashion houses to use these individuals as walking billboards. as celebrity culture has become more wide-spread than ever & with the rise of the socialite as a star, a movement we’ve seen more frequently over the last five years; this has allowed persons of lesser talent to undeservingly take space on the front line, where fashion should have the most value.
no shade to stefano tonchi, anna wintour, lorraine candy, franca sozzani, emmanuelle alt or the varied editors & stylists who can actually effect movement in our style culture, but how in the fuck are some of these individuals garnering these seats? has fashion become so heavily drenched in politically driven seating arrangements that, somehow, value has been lost? it’s been made quite clear that a sense of value or even intelligence is not being considered when PR account reps are creating these seating arrangements. i had debated even drawing up this post or opening this discussion but i feel that it’s necessary. this show season, following the end of couture collections, i had even doubted how necessary it is to cover new york fashion week. prior to the death of whitney houston, not knowing if that was a signal of some sort, i felt disconnected- like something was off. something wasn’t being translated clearly or perhaps, upon gaining more knowledge of fashion & it’s inner workings that supersede creativity, i’ve simply become uninterested. back when i was tapped by burberry’s PR offices to live stream their FW10 collection, i thought it was some sort of mistake. in an effort to not alter perceptions too severely, i wasn’t sure how large an influence they thought i possessed. to be in the first batch of news outlets to even be considered, especially for such a large & established label, i still cannot believe that even happened. once i had the live stream under my belt & had added it to my growing resume of digital journalism, i began to recieve regular PR alerts & updates from burberry, most of which i felt didn’t fit into the direction of content in which i was going. of course, in an effort to preserve the connection; which, by the way, was not created by any of my own attempts, i would just leave the messages in my inbox. to be frank, you as my readers care more about actual fashion & true creativity. creativity which lies beyond headlines of ryan seacrest wearing burberry on american idol, im sure.
the next season following, i got an email from miles, the americas public relations director of menswear at burberry. miles had communicated with me leading to the request of my involvement in the live stream, so his emails had become regular, almost expected. his email listed information needed for the label’s upcoming menswear show, to be held at the palazzo serbelloni. the email read, “i am looking into capacity at present and would like to accommodate you if possible.” – my mind was jolted. how would i even scramble up funds, mid-month, in the midst of my monthly financial plan & be able to budget an expense for milan, a week prior? in an effort to remain professional & of course, gracious in response, i communicated that i had a prior engagement. that engagement being non-existent at that time. i politely explained my previous plans, lightly. extremely disappointed that i would have to shoot down this invitation to milan, i kept questioning- “why me?”. years later, completely oblivious at the time, i later learned the value of the word ‘accommodate’. but was it a missed opportunity for milan that will never come again? how was i to know the depth of this accommodation? i don’t speak italian, where would i have been seated? which row? would this accommodation include a driver? what about hotel stay? all these questions with no real individuals who had the knowledge around me. to be real, im learning this shit as im going & we’re all gaining more knowledge, together, as these things happen. i detest these bloggers, these websites who create a false sense of knowledge in separating themselves from real people. which is what many fashion bloggers do, shit bloggers in general. i have not seen any fashion blogs that do what my site does- explain what the fuck this fashion shit means. it’s as though everyone is keeping & containing knowledge in an attempt to use it against people when it’s beneficial for them or to make others feel lesser. this, im afraid, is the absolute corruption of fashion- this sense of separation is not one that i am used to. but, as a double edged sword- fashion is built on exclusivity. you can’t include everyone. then the industry becomes too open & loses it’s luster. which has happened. im all for structure, organizing people into levels is not the issue. but it’s how & who is being selected to be at certain tiers within the structure that has become the issue.
one of the biggest things to happen last show season, was nicki minaj’s presence, front row, at a number of shows. “i’m not impressed to be in that world. i’m in my own world. i think sometimes the fashion world isn’t even about clothes anymore; it’s about this “in” crowd, & i’m not into that” said minaj, mirroring my own sentiments about what fashion is in these modern times. i’ve been writing & discovering, uncovering what fashion is for almost four years in this space with you. in that time, i’ve seen a slew of worthless people sitting front row. but how can we even change that? how can we shed light on the fact that these mere seats, actually have value. how do you effectively communicate that this fashion thing is more than just clothes? sitting front row at a show doesn’t give you knowledge, it doesn’t afford you some type of skill. the reality of it, is that, to some of you- it is just a seat. to others, it’s a thrown. let’s not get soo caught up in this world of blogging, digital writing & PR knee jerking that we forget what some of us artists were supposed to be doing. in this day in age, everyone is a stylist, everyone is a photographer, everyone is a blogger, everyone has a magazine. this over saturation of false stars, terrible talent & unfounded glamour actually creates a sub-culture within the culture of fashion, otherwise known as the separation from the real & the fake. fashion is what you perceive it as & for me, it’s losing it’s glory. more collections on the runway, more ads, more design- it’s all too much. at times, i just want to tell everyone to sit the fuck down & shut up- just don’t sit in the front row.