This fashion month, whether they were in the front row or the fifteenth, many fashion show attendees viewed collections the same way as those without an invite: from their iPhones. A popular opinion seemed to be that, if they didn’t get a shot of Kaia on their wall and capture the “model train” finale for their Stories, they may as well not have been there.
The same was true last season, and the season before that. Paris Fashion Week designers proved they’ve caught on.
Some played to the overall Instagram obsession, and maybe their own, with elements inspired by popular social media trends: Giambattista Valli’s glitter masks seemed made for photos enhanced with the twinkle-adding KiraKira app. Balmain’s many iridescent pieces — a trench, a fringed dress, a military jacket — called to mind the notorious unicorn trend. (He also debuted a Snapchat filter providing users with a similar sheen. Guess the platform isn’t dead yet.) And Saint Laurent’s snapbait of a set may or may not have referenced Kanye West’s Insta-famous “Saint Pablo” tour stage design.
Others orchestrated moments practically guaranteed to go viral, building out elaborate sets that spared no expense. The best examples were Chanel, with its leaf- and tree-lined runway at the Grand Palais, and Balenciaga, with its graffitied mountain centerpiece.
In an unexpected twist, Demna Gvasalia used the inevitable Instagram buzz to call attention to a cause: the World Food Programme, a United Nations charity focused on relieving food poverty. Button-downs, hoodies and fanny packs were tagged with the organization’s logo, each time preceded with “Balenciaga Supports.” And it does. According to the website, the brand has already donated $250,000 to the WFP, and it will follow up by also giving it 10 percent of the retail price of every fall 2018 item sold.
“I don’t want to be just a T-shirt-and-hoodie man,” Gvasalia told Vogue.com. “We sell them, of course — but I feel I have a responsibility to do it in a way which brings a message.”
Seeing a designer go beyond the usual, self-serving gimmicks was refreshing, and it begged the question: Is a simple goal of engagement passe?
Stella McCartney seems to think so. The sustainable-fashion designer, who is in talks to buy back 50 percent of her company from Kering, seemed to be shining a mirror on today’s social media–dependent culture with her show’s soundtrack, which featured lyrics including “Where the hell my phone?” and “On the beach at night alone, I threw my telephone into the sea,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
What’s more, her straightforward show was quite the contrast to the hoopla-filled, feed-overtaking display presented by Kering darling Gucci in Milan.
Shade thrown? Probably. Though maybe everyone was too busy Instagramming to notice.
Stephanie Mark, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Coveteur, on the changes to fashion month this season:
While it has been a trend for the past couple of seasons, many designers are now either showing in different cities, such as Altuzarra in Paris and Moncler in Milan, or people are showing on different show schedules, such as Alexander Wang and Ellery moving to showing in January.
While there is still a long way to go, shows like Christian Siriano did a great job of showing a variety of women on the runway, which was a very welcome change. And while most shows and cities fell very flat on this, many more people and outlets in the industry are talking about and demanding this change, and that feels different from the seasons before, where the issue was swept under the rug a bit more.
— Vanessa Friedman (@VVFriedman) March 5, 2018
— Vogue Runway (@VogueRunway) March 6, 2018
— THE FASHION LAW (@TheFashionLaw) March 2, 2018