As we told you not too long ago, for an industry that wants to “disrupt” the fashion calendar (arguably to find some happy medium, balance and dare I say, uniform simplicity, at least in terms of scheduling, in order to ease some of the stresses of the industry’s heavily taxed creatives), fashion is has a funny way of showing it. The pre-season schedule or lack thereof (there is not actually a set schedule aside from a 3-month or so timeline, after all) is a perfect example.
The Pre-Fall collections (and for the uninitiated, Pre-Fall is a mini-season that occurs between the Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer shows) started rolling out in November by way of small scale press shows (with a few exceptions, of course) and the release of lookbooks on Vogue Runway and beyond and have been slowly trickling in ever since: Alexander Wang, for instance, released its Pre-Fall 2016 lookbook in December; Gucci showed its collection that month. Valentino released its lookbook in early January; Miu Miu staged its Pre-Fall show in late January.
Meanwhile, the Fall/Winter 2016 shows, which take place from mis-february to March, are underway. Louis Vuitton released its Pre-Fall lookbook in late February. Enter: the release of Gucci’s Pre-Fall 2016 campaign in March. Resort comes complete with a similarly varied schedule of unveilings.
However, amidst such a staggered roll out emerges a trend: Brands withholding their Pre-Fall and Resort images until shortly before or as soon as the collections hit stores. Consider Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen’s The Row, which released their Pre-Fall 2016 lookbook in April, in order to more closely coincide with the delivery of the collection to stores (slated for May 1st). Céline, which has a history of banning photography of its pre-season collections altogether, waited until May 10th, a day after Proenza Schouler released its lookbook. And Balenciaga (pictured above) waited until May 24th.
These notoriously not-by-the-book brands are being joined by others, suggesting that the image embargo might just become widespread phenomenon. Yesterday, Alexander Wang, for instance, announced that it will not release images simultaneously in connection with his Resort 2017 collection, and DVF, under the new direction of Jonathan Saunders, will be following suit, as well. Others, such as Prabal Gurung and London-based brand, Preen, will hold their collection images until closer to the November delivery dates. And still more will likely make similar announcements in the coming weeks.
As for whether such logistical changes will actually change things – namely, consumers’ lack of desire to shop with any real sense of vigor – is up for debate. There is certainly an argument that instead of going to the root of the problem (and addressing the fact that fashion isn’t really about great design anymore for a large pool of brands), the industry is introducing a huge slew of temporary solutions. It is introducing a bunch of new and probably temporary changes – most of which center on logistics, such as withholding collection images, as opposed to real solutions.
However, if we go by a recent observation of the industry by ex-Christian Dior creative director Raf Simons, going back to how things used to be – if that is even possible at this point – might just be better. As he told Cathy Horyn last year, when speaking about the changes that fashion has undergone in recent years, in particular, Simons said: “Fashion became pop. I can’t make up my mind if that’s a good or a bad thing. The only thing I know is that it used to be elitist. And I don’t know if one should be ashamed or not to admit that maybe it was nicer when it was more elitist, not for everybody. Now high fashion is for everybody.”