During NYFW one night I arrived home after a long day of being sick, attending shows, writing about them, then reading various outlets’ reviews of the same events when my roommate announced that he thought the Proenza Schouler show was “really cool.”
My first annoying reaction was to correct his pronunciation of Schouler. “SKOOL-er,” I said, “not SHOOL-er.” Amelia the teenage bitch. Then I laughed while asking, “What did you like about it?” in a tone that implied my roommate didn’t know what he was talking about.
And why should he? My roommate is not Suzy Menkes. My roommate is a 25 year old guy who works in finance who happens to catch the odd fashion show by way of Instagram. Of Proenza’s fall collection he said it was, “I don’t know, kind of geometric…the shapes were different but the stuff with the bright colors made it feel laid-back somehow. Do they do menswear? I feel like that would be sick.”
Then after a minute of trotting around the apartment on my high horse I dismounted to consider his ten second review.
“You’re right,” I said to him. “I totally agree.” And actually, I wasn’t at that show either.
It’s not a new concept that the Internet and mobile apps have democratized the viewing of fashion. Just the other day my mom texted me about the coats at Prada because she saw them on The Cut, and Sunday evening everyone had access to watch the Ferragamo show live online. What I’m more interested in now is that this has opened the floor for conversation, and that everyone — my roommate included — has an opinion.
There is undeniably an enormous amount to be said for actually being present at a show when it comes to creating one’s opinion. There’s detailing up close that’s easy to miss by way of a computer screen. There’s ambiance created by music choice, lighting and seating arrangements.
But who’s to say that what one feels about what she sees is any more or less valid because she saw it IRL?
Certain designers — Dolce & Gabbana or Marni immediately come to mind — are guaranteed to capture my heart by way of slideshow clicks even though I’ve never once sat at their shows. If I were to write a review of their Fall 2014 collections remotely it would be equal parts informed viewer (I can still reference past seasons, zoom in for detail shots, email PR for fabric detailing and possibly receive a quote on the designer’s inspiration), but also, emotion. Sometimes you just like what you like, regardless of how it’s consumed.
I’ve also heard the argument that those whose opinions really matter are informed not just by attendance but by tenured attendance: the veterans who have been reporting on this world for much longer than many of us had a concept of it. And I get it, because when I read something written by Cathy Horyn, Robin Givhan or Tim Blanks I very frequently conclude the article with a simple “Damn” out of pure admiration at their beautifully crafted words.
But then there are the fans. The people who buy the clothes because they love them, not because someone wrote that the collection was a “grown up departure from the Spring collection.” And there are those who will be encouraged to take a design class or sketch looks regardless of someone saying, “This wasn’t X’s strongest season.” Not to be forgotten are the writers, the bloggers and the photographers who, instead of just being assigned to a story were inspired to create their own.
Then there are those who simply want to have a fun discussion with their roommate, if only because nothing’s on TV and they saw something on Instagram. Something that elicited an emotion that formed an opinion that — whether “right” according to a fashion journalist or “wrong” according to a professional critic — is no less valuable when it comes to conversation.
When I read all this out loud to my roommate to fact-check his prior thoughts on Proenza, he said this:
“Proenza was cool. It wasn’t my favorite though — my favorite was Delpozo. No clue why. I just loved it.”
And really, what more does anyone need to know?