Saturday, January 17, 2009

Milan Ready to Wear Collections: The Inside Story Part one

I promised a few posts back that I was going to start my Guide to the Collections Abroad. This is part one, 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 treadmill for some years are Jetlag! No sleep! Sore Feet! Always hungry! Standing in line for hours! Working with morons! 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 beautiful dresses, models and the odd celeb, is a schedule that brings you to your 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 Vague or on E!Online are cluster fucks of revolting people looking for photo opps and sleepy editors being nice to advertisers.

Whilst being blasé about having a wonderful job is a crime in itself, you do have to work very hard mentally to remind yourself why the circus is supposed to be enjoyable. Because however luxe and lovely the trappings in senior editor land are, if you are sleep-deprived, hungry and stressed they all rather fade away.

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 week 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 cities.

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 fashion, I grant you.) In Milan, the only 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 Milanese who are continually late for work because of the traffic caused by the hundreds of limos.