Fashion shows are frequently bizarre, often chaotic, and always mesmerizing. They also seem incredibly unapproachable. Whether it’s true or not, fashion shows seem to peddle unwearable clothes at unreasonable prices for no good reason. There just doesn’t seem to be a time or place where Moncler Genius’s puffer-coat-gowns will find their way out of the closet and into the weekly rotation for most people. Fashion shows are the world of gnomes mowing lawns (Thom Browne Spring/Summer 2019), models carrying their own heads (Gucci Fall 2018), and models wearing other models (Rick Owens 2016 Paris Fashion Week).
Theirs is a realm inhabited only by the uber-wealthy. Even the last row at a fashion show can look like courtside at Madison Square Garden. In the world of high fashion, the wealthy elite of the world jet-set from Paris to New York, to Milan to look at people wear ridiculous things that will likely never be seen in public. For most people, the bizarre existence of fashion shows is anything but accessible.
By the same token, then, museums don’t make much sense. The things you see there aren’t for sale either. There is no more logic in a Pollock exhibition than in a Maison Margiela show. A walk through any museum will expose you to various colors, forms, materials, and ways of looking at the world. Fashion shows function in the same way.
The ability to watch most major fashion shows on youtube has done away with the only element of fashion shows that really precludes people from enjoying them: the exclusivity. Fashion shows function the same way trips to the MoMA or watching movies do. They are a creative endeavor undertaken by someone using a particular medium to communicate to a larger audience how they see the world.
You may not think you know anything about fashion, that you don’t speak the language, that you wouldn’t understand what you saw. You’d be wrong. Fashion has permeated to all levels of society. The importance of physical clout has inextricably linked fashion and rap, which has accidentally educated a whole generation of people who didn’t know they knew anything about fashion. Virgil Abloh, the creative head of Off-White, was recently also made the creative director of Louis Vuitton.
Willy Chavarria had all of his models walk in Timbs at his Spring 2019 show. Ralph Lauren recently did a collaboration collection with Palace. Every time Russell Wilson, who, by the way, is a close friend of Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, gives an interview it’s a fashion show. These events are indicative of an industry-wide shift towards a deeper connection with contemporary cultural trends that anyone with Twitter and eyeballs can relate to and understand.
Yes, fashion shows are weird, no, you won’t be able to afford most of what you see, but that’s not the point. Fashion shows are not catalogs of items for sale, they are unique ways of looking at the world around us. Now, more than ever, fashion is current, fashion is legible, fashion is entertaining- fashion is worth your time.