Back at the beginning of 2009 I ran a series of posts about my experiences attending the collections for magazines. Given that my peers have just tripped off to Milan for part two of the month long fashion circus, I thought it might be timely to re-visit them. I’ve polished the posts up a bit, but must point out that these were originally written before I was covering the shows for digital media, so this is seen mainly through the lens of working for print. I’ll run the posts over a few days, followed by a Deep Throat PR friend’s Through the Looking Glass version of what it’s like to be a fashion publicist in Milan.
The biannual fashion collections in New York, London, Milan & Paris are the nexus around which fashion magazine years are planned, but they aren’t always looked forward to with the glee that you might expect (Fashion! Foreign travel! All expenses paid! Celebrity! Parties! The Glamour! The shops!) The more usual reactions for those who have been on the hamster wheel for some years are Jetlag! No sleep! Sore Feet! Always hungry! Standing around for hours! Working with the brain dead! Language barrier! What The Fuck Am I Going To Wear?
Because here’s the thing: the shows are Work. Unless you are a shiny, just out of the box assistant or junior editor, brimming with youthful enthusiasm, the shows are Exhausting. Attending the collections as a senior magazine editor is not, as most people imagine, so much about seeing the beautiful clothes that remind you why you love your job, it’s about being nice to advertiser brands. Behind the stardust supplied by ravishing dresses, models and the odd celeb, is a 15hr a day schedule that can bring an editor to her knees by the time Paris is over. There’s very little time for shopping and fun, there’s certainly no time to eat and those glam-looking parties you see photographed in Vogue or on E! Online are cluster fucks of revolting people looking for photo opps, and filled with sleepy editors being nice to advertising brands.
Whilst whining about having a wonderful job is a crime in itself, it remains that essentially this is hard work. Because however luxe and lovely the trappings in senior editor land are (& they can be very lovely), if you are sleep-deprived, hungry and stressed they all rather fade away to leave a job that like many others consists of dealing with punishing travel, long hours, dull meetings and toxic people. Fashion is big business in Milan, whether for the labels or the magazines and, in the current fiscal climate, there is extraordinary pressure on everyone to achieve ever higher targets, be it sales for the designers or ad pages for the magazines.
The thing to remember is that the Collections are essentially a series of trade fairs, where, instead of talking about rivets or semi-conductors, the participants talk models, make-up and silhouettes. They are not a month long whirl of joy. And, speaking of trade fairs, the general public are actively discouraged from any kind of participation, and the shows generally have little or no impact on the life of the city.
After all, for the hotels & restaurants, fashion people are just better dressed than normal, business people who require lodging and food in the same way that any guest might. (Although in a slightly more demanding manner, I grant you. Get me three dozen more coathangers, a yoga mat, Donatella’s home number and a canarino NOW.) In Milan, the only non-fashion Milanese who care about the shows are the Lotharios who prey on teen Eastern European models, the limo drivers who make more money in a week than they do in three months out of season, and the poor commuters who are continually late for work because of the traffic caused by the hundreds of limos.
Part Two tomorrow.
Photo by Briony Whitehouse