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Paris Fashion Week: Fashion or Fanfare?

Fashion shows were traditionally an opportunity for designers to display their latest projects to the prospective buyers and fashion writers. However, it can be debated whether the focus for designers is on the clothes or rather on the celebrities and the performance. Fashion shows over the years have undoubtedly become more theatrical as it is unclear what the designer’s priority is, style or entertainment. Most of the press coverage of Paris Fashion Week has focused on the celebrities and key moments of the shows. This is not to say that the clothes themselves were not impressive or noteworthy, but rather that they were simply overshadowed as our society today is more fascinated with the aesthetics of the performances rather than the art of the clothes. Paris Fashion Week was no exception to the theme of clothes taking a backseat as advertisers and celebrities seemed to prevail.

Over the last few years, Chanel has become associated with setting a scene rather than creating a generic show. Karl Lagerfeld once again pulled off a fantastic performance while recreating a French brasserie. However, despite the set-like presentation, the clothes still remained the primary focus. Lagerfeld seems to have a rare creative gift that allows him to put on a sophisticated and interesting show which still remains focused on the fashion.

Another show which succeeded in Paris Fashion Week was that of Alexander McQueen. Sarah Burton’s latest collection for this brand saw the ‘English Rose’ move to a Parisian venue, as there was an underlying link to the French Revolution.  This show, like that of Chanel, managed to remain firmly rooted with the focus on the garments displayed.

The Valentino Fashion show was undeniably the epitome of this ‘performance’ idea when Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson strode down the catwalk to end this autumn/winter show. This advertising stunt, organized by Paramount Pictures for the sequel of Zoolander, was particularly out of place as it grabbed the attention, pushing the expertly crafted clothes out of the picture. This show will definitely be remembered as ‘Valentino’s Zoolander moment’ rather than for the clothes, proving how the stability between fashion and entertainment is currently unbalanced.

Fashion weeks have always been a honeypot for celebrities and famous faces as they dominate the front row. In Paris, Kim Kardashian went a step further to distract from the fashion, using Balmain’s show to debut her new bleach-blond look. Kanye West also performed for Louis Vuitton, turning this fashion show into more of a concert spectacle. This is not to say that these celebrities and performance elements aren’t beneficial for the fashion industry, but rather that they distract from what the fashion weeks are essentially about.



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