It’s fashion week in Toronto again! This means that David Pecaut Square will be a reliable chaos of bustle and colour any given night this week; you won’t have to turn too far to find a camera looking for a good photo.
Outsiders to Canada’s—or, for that matter, any—sartorial scene have a predictable reliance on journalists during fashion week. It is to their experience that we submit, and through their articles and photos that we see… well, everything we wouldn’t see otherwise. Whether it is details on conceptual clothing or the fledgling field of dog couture; whether it’s the forerunning changes in the stewardship of a fashion label or a topless protest by FEMEN on a Paris catwalk—it is the job of the fashion reporter to “grab people” with words and photos. This much is unremarkable; to consume journalism is to entrust the media with reporting on events and people one has no access to.
Yet, is there a difference between what we get and what we want in our coverage of fashion week? The spectacle of the attendees, the venue and the post-show party have long been as important as fresh fashion itself, and yet they increasingly overshadow the clothing in media reports.
Designer Oscar de la Renta, famous for a tradition of romantic, feminine couture, lambasted this circus of a fashion show earlier in New York this year before halving his audience. The respected and notoriously tongue-in-cheek Suzy Menkes, in an article for The New York Times, also lamented that the speed of the fashion industry (“Ten shows a year!”) necessitates this “nonstop parade of what’s new” in the press. And, lest we forget, for most people fashion week is an exercise in social media navigation. In blogs, on Facebook and on Twitter, the hashtag takes on such a winding, unselective narrative that for a week at least, media furor over industry spectacle is almost enough to put one off.
There is a lot of talent and a lot of spectacle to come this week; it can only be expected that downtown Toronto will see many people in the stressed-and-well-dressed category. It will be educational, however, to see how much of the conversation is news and how much is but peacocking.