I recently wrote a story for Vanity Fair that questioned the presence of social media at fashion week. Citing Marc Jacobs’ recent show, which displayed a six-aisle runway and only front row seats (and obviously resulted in an avalanche of blurry images shared to Instagram from the manifold but unobstructed vantage points of show-goers), I thought about the widespread access that Mr. Jacobs shrewdly provided.
Content consumers were given the opportunity to sift through thousands of images, which were over shared by the content creators, but was that a good thing?
When I got to Paris two weeks ago, the first show that I attended was Balmain. Seated just across the runway from me, I found the Vogue Paris team situated, cross-legged with not a smartphone in sight. Just one block of bleachers to their left, a front row chock full of celebrities, fashion personalities and Instagram stars flourished, phones ready to capture the articles of clothing that would walk.
When the show started, I oscillated between observing the leopard print pony hair panels on Olivier Rousteing’s A-line mini skirts, the gaze that Emmanuelle Alt emitted, and the fifteen iPhones, propped up like ducks in a row, ready to capture just about anything on bleacher block #2.
It made me realize that I don’t want to be at shows because I have a dense social following. I want to be there because I have an opinion that is worth being fleshed out on the platform that informs my Instagram account. And so I resolved that I would stop taking pictures at shows unless I really believed, like in the case of Christian Dior or Chloé or Saint Laurent, that my purview was one worth sharing.
Most of the images I was posting were coming up cloudy and frankly, there are more portals than there are grains of sand on a beach providing clarion, hi-res images anyway, so why were my amateur shots (the unoriginal ones, at least) worth being shared to begin with?
The problem is, I’m aware of the fact that my phone-taken runway photos aren’t particularly strong. I’ve been aware of that since I first started using Instagram. And while there is certainly value is granting access to he or she who cannot attend a show, recently, I have been wondering (chiefly because I don’t want to share images — or experiences — that anyone else can or will) if my uploading tendencies have been moonlighting as a testament to my a) eliciting second-party FOMO (but why! Why would I want to do such a thing?), b) wanting to prove that I was there, too, or c) giving in to, as Man Repeller contributor Sophie Milrom puts it, Instagram’s popularity contest to prove that “my life is better than yours.”
On the quest to share-cleanse, all three conjectures were boxed together and proven correct with one recurring thought I had every time I sat down at another show: will people know I’m here even though I’m not posting?
But why does that even matter? I’d indubitably review the show shortly thereafter, thus sharing the experience in a decidedly longer form and further detailed recap.
It used to be that fashion shows functioned similarly to the way a book jacket does, providing a summary that would either push you to purchase what lives between the front and back covers or leave it dejected where you found it. But when that book jacket stopped summarizing and instead began laying out all its content for you to digest, sans enticement, in one quick glance, what happened? What were you left with if not mindless, void-filling precision? What are you left with if not mindless, void-filling precision?
Photograph shot by Garance Doré