NZ Fashion Week: Front row dress code

By Zoe Walker

There's nothing wrong with dressing in a fun, exciting and colourful way - especially during Fashion Week.

Glamour, fabulousness, edginess: that's the way traditional Fashion Week front rows are portrayed; but I can't help but feel that people would be sorely disappointed at the lack of extravagance or effort at our own. Cue death stares in my direction, but our front row is really quite dull. We fashion editors and writers may enthuse about neon brights, colour blocking, print on print and "a return to glamour" in our pages, but when it comes to our own wardrobes, most tend to stick to the typical New Zealand look: black, easy, casual, please-don't-look-at-me. Everyone looks fine and good, and there are a few of exceptions to this rule - Fashion Quarterly's fashion editor Marina Didovich dresses like you'd expect a fashion editor to, with a sense of fun; M.A.C.'s senior makeup artist Amber Dreadon always has incredible shoes - but as a whole, we're not a particularly fashionably adventurous bunch. You'll see a lot of Kate Sylvester dresses, lots of Kathryn Wilson shoes, and quite a few Deadly Ponies handbags, all worn in a very casual way. Come Fashion Week, supposedly the most glamorous week in the local fashion industry's calendar, there seems to be a severe lack of effort, fun, accessorising and, especially, colour. As one editor I spoke to recently said, "There's a mentality that if you're wearing heels, you're not working". It's not just about wearing heels of course but that's reflective of the casual attitude as a whole: don't look like you're making an effort, unless you want to be on the receiving end of various passive aggressive comments like, "Oh, good on you for trying".

Yes, yes, it's just clothes; it shouldn't matter what people are wearing; it should be about the collections and all the hard work behind it. But this is Fashion Week - if there's a time when people should be having fun with the way they dress, making an effort, dressing up and trying new things; trends, silhouettes, colour, concepts, well, surely it is now.

I admit, I'm somewhat of a hypocrite writing this column, with my penchant for easy, pretty dresses and flat shoes - I'm not exactly making statements in the front row or on the street. But wouldn't it be nice to see people make a real effort this Fashion Week? (Myself and the notoriously low-key New Zealand Herald team included.)

Overseas, those attending shows at various fashion weeks have become just as influential and interesting - sometimes even more so - than what is shown on the runway. There are fashion editors and stylists, like Shala Monroque, Giovanna Battaglia and Taylor Tomasi Hill, who have become as well-known for their front row looks as for their work; others have made new careers out of wearing outrageous outfits and having their photo taken - Anna Dello Russo in her watermelon shaped headpieces, gowns in the daytime and head-to-toe straight off the runway looks being the obvious example here. At Australian Fashion Week earlier this year, lots of people made an obvious effort to dress up and tried to "out-do" each other, no doubt in a bid to have their photo taken by influential street style photographer Tommy Ton. It was equally hilarious and fascinating to watch. The various teams from different fashion magazines made a bold statement sitting together in the front row - Vogue's pink haired fashion editor in colour blocking sitting next to the fashion director in classic black, and their model street-style photographer in quirky Christopher Kane and Hermes; the Russh girls in trouser suits; the editor of Harper's Bazaar in subtle, elegant Lanvin, their fashion editor in a parade of catwalk looks from Celine, Givenchy, Balenciaga. I doubt we'll ever get to that level - we're far too humble, and don't have easy access to that level of designer (or designer discount) - but if we want our fashion and our Fashion Week to be considered on an international level, perhaps the industry needs to make an effort and start dressing the part. And besides, it's fun to dress up.

- NZ Herald

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