The French brand's first New York show cements the transformation of fashion week into a mass consumer spectacle.
New York Fashion Week, once a cloistered event open only to industry and invited press, has in recent years ballooned into a spectacle for the masses, thanks largely to the influence of social media. Some designers, notably Oscar De La Renta in 2013, have attempted to reverse the tide by exiling “bloggers” from their shows.
But now, it seems, more brands are accepting that fashion week has become a mass outlet for “fashion as entertainment,” and are even redesigning their shows to accommodate this shift. Givenchy, showing in New York for the first time, took this to a radical (for the fashion world) extreme, opening its show to hundreds of onlookers who had no connection to the brand other than being the first to request tickets.
The show itself took place on a pier in New York’s Tribeca, on a set made of salvaged wood and scrap metal designed by the artist Marina Abramovic, who also curated a selection of live music and acrobatics to accompany the clothes. The unusual location for Givenchy and art-world collaboration proved a particular draw for celebrities.
Members of the public stood in bleachers as household names such as Julia Roberts and Nicki Minaj filed in, a concrete representation of fashion’s increasing reliance on both celebrity and mass spectatorship. For onlookers, the appeal was clearly as much about the guests as the clothes.
In its more direct outreach to the public, Givenchy is joined by the brand Rag & Bone, which has partnered with Uber to offer free show tickets and rides to select guests who enter a code into Uber’s app. New York Fashion Week’s new owner WMA/IMG has also created a hub on West 14th street away from the actual shows, where consumers can walk in off the street at select times to mingle with industry attendees.
Expect more fashion shows to open to the public, and more cross-sector collaborations as fashion events are managed and marketed as entertainment vehicles rather than trade events.