The Evolving Runway Timetable: What Season is it Anyway?

U.S. ready-to-wear brands Proenza Schouler and Rodarte switched from their regular New York Fashion Week slots to open Paris couture week this weekend, signifying their desire to further build the prestige of their respective brands, as well as the rapidly changing organizational model of global fashion, which is evolving to meet the industry’s changing needs.

Rodarte and Proenza

Certainly a blow to the New York Fashion Week calendar, the creators behind Rodarte and Proenza Schouler - celebrated stateside-born labels - have respectively said their change in venue will apply for the foreseeable future, and is not a one-off for the Spring/Summer 2018 season. 

In a statement, Proenza Schouler said it is “to break from the traditional ready-to-wear calendar in order to pursue a business model more aligned to the realities of commerce today.” A spokesman for the brand, which was founded by Parsons graduates Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez  in 2002 - added that “currently a large percentage of the brand’s sales are placed during the pre-collection market.”

As noted by the AP, "Paris couture week falls during the pre-collection season, and the move to the French capital is being seen as a way for houses to synchronize calendars and capitalize on the media glare that Paris couture week brings." 

A Larger Shift

These two changes to the calendar fall neatly in line with larger changes in brands’ approach to runway shows and their staging in terms of timing/locale. During Paris menswear week, for instance, which ended just before the start of the Fall/Winter 2017 couture shows this weekend, womenswear designs were all over the runway. Meanwhile, both Givenchy and Saint Laurent opted out of showing menswear-specific shows last month, opting, instead, to show menswear on their Spring/Summer 2018 womenswear shows this fall.

And still yet, pre-season collections are still underway in some cases. Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Chanel, and Prada all showed their pre-season shows within the past two months, but Hermes waited until this past weekend to show its pre-season offerings. Similarly, former Pucci and Roberto Cavalli creative director Peter Dundas debuted his eponymous label with a Resort runway show to coincide with the couture shows, as well. And still yet, Miuccia Prada's Miu Miu Resort 2018 took to the runway at the end of the day of the first day of couture. 

As noted by Vogue Runway's Nicole Phelps, the overhaul has been significant: "Haute couture week was once considered the sleepier, easier cousin of ready-to-wear, but Spring and Resort shows and at least one genuine Fall 2017 couture collection were stacked back to back starting from 10 o'clock this morning." 

With such calendar chaos underway, ODDA magazine's Jessica Michael said: “I think we’re entering transformation and change in the industry as a whole. Fashion is being reorganized and we’re really in the throes of it." She told the AP that the immediacy of digital age has changed how brands and buyers view the fashion calendar with images instantaneously available online sometimes a year ahead of when the styles hit the shops.

Marc Ascoli, a freelance Paris-based artistic director, was also open to fashions various forms merging together. “I’m absolutely not hung up on the idea that there’s menswear, womenswear and couture that should all be separated,” he said. “It’s good that things change, that the boundaries get blurred. It’s real-politick, it’s about synchronizing the pre-collections with the couture.”