“Ridiculous, nobody comes in here” or “just in time for the carnival,” your reactions under the articles about fashion shows on the running fashion weeks speak volumes. Many of the bizarre creations that designers show on the catwalk are indeed unbearable, and what good is it that they show these outfits that nobody is wearing?
From a checkered coat at Off-White that resembles a duvet for 2 persons and the booties at Rick Owens with a heel of at least 20 centimeters high to a floor-length silk dress with cut wool sleeves at Ann Demeulemeester. During the fashion weeks that are currently stopping in Paris, the most bizarre creations pass by on the catwalk. Nice to look at, but you do not immediately see your neighbor going to the supermarket.
According to a survey by the fashion website Fashionista from 2014, an average catwalk show costs around 175,000 euros and a big show of about Dior or Chanel about 880,000 euros. A gigantic amount of money to show clothes that most people do not wear. Why do designers continue to pump so much money season after season? What is the use of such a fashion show?
Firstly, it is important to know that most of the ‘bizarre’ creations that you see on the catwalk do not end up in the store shelves at all. It is therefore not the intention that someone actually goes around with his work in a duvet. Designers really know that there are only a handful of people, most people who still work in the fashion industry themselves, who dare, can and want to wear such exuberant creations. Fortunately, that is not the goal of a fashion show.
Unless it concerns 100% ready to wear shows that you often find at the fashion week in New York with brands such as Michael Kors, Chloe, and Tom Ford. If you look at their catwalk shows, you will see mostly portable looks that are actually meant to be (almost) all going into production and being sold. For many people, this may still be too daring outfits, but that is more about personal style. Designers can, of course, send 40 times a combination of skinny jeans, sweater and white sneakers to the catwalk.
For the other fashion shows, there are a number of important reasons why they are organized. Some designers want to convey a message with their creations, such as Viktor & Rolf who showed dresses with expressions on social media for their most recent haute couture collection. Like ‘I’m not shy, I just do not like you.’ Slogans that you expect on a cheap T-shirt, not a very expensive haute couture dress and therefore people had to think about that contrast. Or Maria Grazia Chiuri who drew the card of feminism at Dior again. Previously Raf Simons, for example, already made a penalty statement against Calvin Klein against the presidency of Trump.
Inspiring people is another important reason why designers organize fashion shows. You will not wear a hysterical orange-red dress with all kinds of Valentino fringes, but you might find the color combination beautiful so that you might buy the more subdued version that is in store afterward.
The collection that is shown on the catwalk often serves as a mood board, an extremely enlarged version of the ready to wear collection that customers find in the store 6 months later. Not to be sold to the common man in the street. Sometimes some of the pieces are still used in shop windows of shops or celebs and other very rich people wear them at events. And of course, there are exceptions such as the Japanese brand Comme des Garçons that the creations do sell.
The extreme bizarre catwalk creations are also a way for the designer to show his or her creativity and technical talent to the public. It is a bit like the artwork that you see hanging in a museum. They are also not meant to be sold and nobody asks questions. Fashion is not seen as an art form for anything.
Fashion shows are also a relatively affordable form of advertising. Last year, Launchmetrics, an American company that collects and analyzes data from the fashion industry, calculated that some brands noticed an 800% increase in media coverage after giving a fashion show compared to the rest of the year. There may be a high price tag attached to a show, a campaign with an actress or top model often costs the same and generates much less attention. This attention also ensures that customers buy more cheap products from the brand, such as sunglasses, cosmetics, handbags, and perfumes.
Finally, buyers of some bizarre creations from all over the world come to the shows, and then in the showroom to buy the more portable pieces for their stores. Certainly, for smaller brands, the shows are therefore a direct source of income.