Vogue Festival

Condé Nast held their new fashion geek fest, the Vogue Festival, this weekend at the Southbank Centre. And what a weekend! Just as the sun has finally cracked through that tenacious winter sky, fashion fans were out in all shimmers and shades of glory at the talks with the upper echelons of industry.

I attended the panel with the bloggers that now sit front row, Susie Bubble and Garance Doré, and front rower who blog, Anna Dello Russo. Talk about turning the industry inside out, that these ladies are handed a mic by a Vogue editor and asked their opinion on the media is testimony to the power of that Industrial Revolution of our day, what my uncle still calls "the net" (so cute. So millenium.) 

Anna Dello Russo is a funny one; quite literally, her protracted but enthusiastic accounts of how she dresses, the importance of a "total look"and the fact that she has a whole appartment just for her wardrobe had the audience in (very chic) stitches. As stylist for twenty years before getting into blogging, she finds it to be like girls getting ready for a party together, the chance to dress up and share your experience with clothes.

For Garance Doré, it was a natural process, more of a personal photo diary that got famous. She is one of those achingly stylish women whose ease and elegance seem like they breezed in from another clime. Her blog has the same vibe; I think it's a nonchalant French thing. She spoke about how she recently moved to New York, and how Americans are much more willing to try new things, making her work much easier and more interesting. Appazza in France women work out the jean shape that suits them and wear it for life. French women, conservative? Who knew! 

Well,  if you can find interesting things to snap in that cold conservative clime, I'd say it's great training ground for anywhere. It's like the Romans used to train their soliders with heavy wooden mock weapons so when they got into battle, the steel versions felt so light they became twice as good as they already were. It's a motto I try and live by. Natch!

Intellectual, the original rag mag geek; Susie Bubble is so sweet. It suits her well. She humbly reiterated her line that she still can;t believe she gets to go to all these shows. In a way, I don't disbelieve her. All three women agreed you have to keep a fresh enthusiasm for what you do, and casting yourself in your mind's eye as an outsider must work wonders for your levels of appreciation. One to chew on.

After, I got chatting to blogger and LCF student Monica, (who I suspect comes from the same other world as GD) when someone handed me a spare ticket for the Michael Kors conversation with Yasmin Le Bon. Yaldy! I took my seat.

Michael Kors is testimony to one thing; love for your craft. He is giggly, fun, happy. There is a sense of theatricality about him which made the talk really enjoyable, like his anecdote of styling his mother's wedding dress aged five - according to himself, his grandmother was suspicious of his mother taking the toddler's advice but she knew. Bless. Seriously, though, off the rail I've never found Michael Kors work to be mind blowing, but seeing the way he is in person, it's clear a little personality goes a long way, and his success is probably much down to his sparkle.

Having come from the "blogging is future" chat, it was nice to hear some (very recent) fashion history. Yasmin Le Bon was a model he worked with in the eighties, and they reminisced about the great times they had at the shows. There were no live streams then, hardly any cameras; the shows were set up for experience, not the pictures. According to Yasmin, you had to make sure people remembered them the hard way, so there was a lot more winking, throwing off coats, even explaining to the audience. "We could be so naughty!" she laughed. It contrasts absolutely with the military precision and seriousness which characterises the catwalk shows of today. Oh my god, she fell over? How catastrophic!

We are so connected, so uber-switched on these days, we forget how to really live life. "I'll Google that later" - how many of us forget to live in the here and now? Well, here's the crunch. Condé Nast are on the money again. Live events like this look set to become a commercial outlet for print publications, whose sales are notoriously plummeting where digital takes over.

Two weeks ago I attended a Company "How to Get Into Fashion" forum, which fashion editor Oonagh Weldon told me is something they are looking to develop further. The music industry lost record sales to downloads, so responded by making the live experience ten, twenty, a million times better, and pimping the tickets for a wristbanded arm and a leg.

The Vogue Festival felt like Fashion Week For The Public; the temporary beauty salons, Vogue shop and photo booths had the look of the British Fashion Council tents. People love to love fashion, why not make events part of the Vogue product? And to really compete with digital, the blogs and the online magazines with all of the youth and none of the hang-ups Vogue is held back by, you take it back into the real world. Having said that, with free wi-fi and constant reminders to "tweet with the hashtag Vogue Festival, there was a sense that the internet had become the reality. Meta!

Crucially, Vogue are taking it down the talks route, a much better, more engaging way of thinking than fashion shows. Who knows, with talks such as Too Fat Too Thin? on the agenda, maybe these will start some genuine debate and reflection on an industry which can be all too matter over mind.

No comments:

Post a Comment