The annual Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) and the French Film Festival (FFF) were on last week and Melbourne was all a buzz with festival madness! You could just smell all the culture and sexy people in the air, it was amazing. I managed to attend both festivals last week at three very different events.
First up I went to a new concept for 2015 by VAMFF, with its Cultural Program’s Fashion Writing Series discussion about Fashion Critique: Fact or Fiction? Guest panellists Janice Breen Burns (Voxfrock), Paris-based journalist Dana Thomas (Harper’s Bazaar, Paris) and Briony Wright (i-D) were joined by host Danielle Whitfield (National Gallery of Victoria) to discuss what fashion writing is and for people to consider whether serious fashion critique still exists, particularly in this age of blogging and social media.
Panellists (L_R) Janice Breen Burns, Briony Wright and Dana Thomas
Fashion design is an art like any other … but serious critique is scarce, as is space to publish it.
The rise of social media has turned up the volume of talk about fashion, but is it reduced too often to ‘I like it’ (or the opposite)? What are the benefits of slowing down the discussion, to make considered assessments and arguments – in writing – rather than just sharing images with a thumbs-up or down?
I was particularly interested in this debate as I wanted to know what these fashion professionals had to say about the rise of the fashion blogger and whether they approved. Here are some notes I took from the panellists;
“At the forefront of all this change is blogging. That’s been a very interesting debate within fashion journalism is this democratisation of fashion writing. Given that blogs command enormous readerships and influence and they have replaced this top down dictatorship of how the fashion industry traditionally worked. And because the content is delivered in a different way to traditional print media it allows for this rapid dissemination of opinion and response. I think the potential of that is exciting” – Danielle Whitfield
“The moment when fashion journalism changed forever; it started with that new, intensely personal media mode – THE BLOG! Fashion blogs were beginning to boom, bloggers were shaping up to be the new Anna Wintour’s of fashion, the new influences.”
“It was from the streets – straight out of the mouths and digital devices of real people”
“We were all madly adapting – we were adapting our frocks off! But as I was adapting I was also feeling sad and empty as a huge slab of fashion journalism was slowly melting away. My fashion briefs were shrinking. Short fashion stories, more sensational the better and often just pictures with an extended caption were being favoured by editors more often than longer pieces.”
“Editors did their research and what they found was that there were short attention spans and 400 words max was what busy, modern people wanted.” – Janice Breen Burns
“Every morning we get up and we get dressed, and when we get dressed we decide how we’re going to present ourselves to the public, present to the world. How we feel, what we feel about ourselves, how we see ourselves, how we want others to see us. To give us strength as an armour, as protection. Or maybe just to feel up or feel down or it’s raining or we’re cold or we’re divorced or we’re sad. Clothes for mourning, clothes for getting married; why do we wear white, why do we wear black? What is chic? What is elegant? These were all questions that I thought were so fascinating, as fascinating as how we make our laws and diplomacy. In fact it was a part of diplomacy.” – Dana Thomas
My biggest takeaway from the evening was that fashion journalism isn’t given the credit it once had and that in some tiny (I’m talking minuscule here) way I was part of the demise of fashion journalism. Do I feel bad about that? NO! The rise and popularity and sheer volume of fashion bloggers speaks for itself. What I do feel bad about is that fashion isn’t deemed to be seen in the same cultural realm as film, music and art.
This was a fabulous and refreshing project put together by VAMFF in collaboration with The Wheeler Centre. I loved that it was a part of the fashion festival and yet we saw no clothes! I’m really looking forward to attending more events in this writing series… stay tuned.
“As one of history’s greatest fashion designers — Yves St. Laurent — entered a decade of freedom, neither came out of it in one piece.”
Oh boy, what can I say about Saint Laurent? At over two hours (2:15 to be precise) it definitely outstayed its welcome! Here I was excited about combining the FFF with a film about fashion and it was sadly a huge dud. I was hoping to learn more about the man himself and get a deeper insight into his designs but it essentially was a thinly veiled film about how fucked up the man was and how heavily he relied on drugs. Oh and sex! Lots of semi-porn action but I was totally down with that part!
You’d think that it being a movie about the huge fashion house it’d have the amazing back catalogue of haute couture fabulousness, but alas it was like the clothes played second fiddle to the booze, drugs, ciggies (it even had me wanting to smoke!) and sex. It may have had something to do with the fact that the film wasn’t backed by the estate of YSL so no real designs were allowed to be used but the clothes seemed to be an afterthought.
I wanted to like this but I couldn’t. This gets two Rosie thumbs down! 😦
Movie selfies with wine are always the best!
But where’s the third event I hear you ask? Well dollface it’s been a crazy couple of weeks funsies-wise (birthday fun included) so I have been a little busy being a social butterfly. Tomorrow I’ll bring you all the highlights and gorgeousness from VAMFF Future Runway show.