Social Media and Fashion Week: Why I’m #overit

#Burberry #FROW #selfie. Last February at London Fashion Week, the catwalks were abundant with extravagant prints, lashings of colour and delectable outerwe

#Burberry #FROW #selfie. Last February at London Fashion Week, the catwalks were abundant with extravagant prints, lashings of colour and delectable outerwear. But as the celebration of all things fashionable draws to a close, what were the real trends that emerged this season?

It was not the designs that enraptured audiences, but the content that was hastily shared by the numerous celebrities, bloggers and editors sitting in the front row.

Snap, Tag, Share

Once upon a time, spectators would sketch or write about the designs that were presented to them with an old-fashioned pen and paper. It was demanding and laborious work that required intense observation and a gifted eye.

Nowadays anyone can capture and upload entire runway collections in a flash, requiring only a smartphone and a 3G signal. Observe, evaluate, record has been replaced with snap, tag, share.

One need only watch the autumn/winter Burberry show online to experience this weird phenomenon up close. The edges of the catwalk resembled a landing strip, illuminated by the obligatory iPhone embedded in everyone’s hand.

How are these people able to observe the splendour of the runway with their eyes fixed to their screens? Models have finally earned the right to look moody; no one’s paying attention to them anymore.

When #LFW is typed into Instagram, it returns 334,126 results. However, this is not an encyclopedia of images capturing the looks on the catwalk. On the most part, it is a bombardment of fashionistas sharing their #streetstyle.

It seems these days it’s all about saying ‘I was there!’ rather than what is actually going on around you. The controversial street artist Banksy once displayed a television that read: “In the future everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes”. It was a play on Andy Warhol’s famous quote: “In the future everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes.”  

We no longer allude to, suggest or whisper our innermost thoughts but instead broadcast them globally in 140 characters or less. The mystery has gone. This season the looks on the catwalks were all about the allure of concealment, with knee-length skirts, sheer panels and opaque fabrics hinting at, rather than revealing, the feminine form underneath. The reporting of these designs could have benefitted from similar treatment.

Of course this behaviour applies to much more than the microcosm that is the fashion industry. Out for dinner? Be sure to upload a picture of your food. Off to the cinema with friends? You must tag yourselves there. Why are we so obsessed with letting everyone know precisely what we’re up to at any given moment? There seems to be a hysteria sweeping the nation. If it isn’t recorded, it didn’t happen.

Fashion is a Business

Back to the catwalks, and this frenzy of social media activity is great for us ordinary folk, not quite fabulous enough to receive a hallowed invite. Social media is tearing down the elitist walls of the temple of haute couture and making fashion accessible to everyone.

But fashion is a business. The purpose of these shows is not to create a media circus but to preview designs to buyers and journalists who are going to promote this multi-billion pound industry. By opening the doors to everyone, we are making a mockery of the industry professionals who have honed their craft over years, even decades.

Really, why should they bother braving London’s February chill when they can watch the whole thing live online? Why should they take the trouble to lug themselves along to back row seats where their vision will likely be obscured by Harry Styles’ hair, if the man himself will be tweeting photo updates in real time?

There are those who are fighting against this coup d’état, such as the organisers of Mercedes Fashion Week in New York. They have decided that the ridiculous trend for bloggers to gain precedence over buyers has to stop. By ensuring top seats go to those in the business rather than the glamourazzi, the shows are regaining their credibility.

Like most things, social media is a trend in our society. We are at the peak, which means the trough can’t be far off. The Christ of Couture Karl Lagerfeld himself said recently: “The world is distorted by these (iPhones). I have no time for it. The day is too short.”

And if Lagerfeld says it’s très mauvaise then it surely won’t be long before his groupies follow suit. Now you better go tweet that. So everyone knows you know.

What do you think about the role social media has had on fashion and LFW? Have your say in the comments section below. 

Image: José Goulão