The Los Angeles County Museum of Art hosted a discussion on the history of runway shows on Friday night with Tim Blanks, editor of The Business of Fashion, and Booth Moore, a Los Angeles Times fashion journalist, to kick off the museum’s newest exhibit, Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear.
The Friday rain couldn’t take away any sort of fashion in Los Angeles. Fur vests, high buns and slick suits filled Bing Theatre shortly before the discussion began. Moderated by Sharon Takeda, the senior curator and department head of costume and textiles at LACMA, the event began by the introduction of Blanks and Moore.
Stunning images were projected onto the large screen from past iconic, historical fashion shows. The 1925 Paul Poiret Couture image of the presentation in his Paris salon showed just how secretive fashion was at this time. No one knew what was taking place in these presentation rooms, journalists weren’t standing around here, and information newspapers received about fashion was because it has been slipped to someone secretly. A timeline of fashion continued; 1944 marked fashion shows resuming after the liberation of Paris; 1967 demonstrated celebrities beginning to sit front row at fashion shows; and 1987 Yves Saint Laurent presented the “supermodel” on the runway.
Blanks explained that other than technology, nothing has changed in the fashion industry. Since there is only a core elite group who get to witness a fashion show live, being present at a show is different from seeing it on social media.
“There is an emotion in the room you don’t get from photos or live watching a show,” Blanks said.
Blanks began attending shows in the late ’80s, and Moore in the late ’90s. Blanks described his first runway show, Yves Saint Laurent, and how it will forever be engraved in his memory. The show featured 180 looks and lasted an hour and a half. Today, fashion shows showcase 30 looks and are over in eight minutes. The fashion world has witnessed a shift because attention spans are shorter and social media allows for everything to be instantaneous. Blanks touched on the graciousness and culture aspect to fashion shows in Paris. He described how shows are “breathtaking, indigestible and magnificent.”
“Fashion is a transience of art,” Blanks said.
In 1990, shows began to look more similar to exhibitions and art performances. Maison Martin Margiela held shows in an abandoned Paris Metro station as well as a children’s playground. According to Moore, recently, designer Karl Lagerfeld has taken the “fashion spectrum to a new level.” Chanel’s 2014 Fall/Winter show had a supermarket theme, while the 2015 Fall/Winter show exhibited a “casino” presentation.
In the midst of the development of the fashion industry, Los Angeles is becoming a more common place to host shows. In 2015, Burberry held their show at the Griffith Observatory, and in 2016, Saint Laurent at The Palladium.
Conversation on bloggers and celebrities role in fashion were questioned, and Booth concluded that social media gets the clothing out for everyone to see. Everybody can be their own critic now, and has the ability to voice their opinion on social media platforms.
“Is there validity for opinion? Whose voice is right? Fashion excites ridiculous opinion,” Blanks said.
The audience seemed to be engaged and intrigued throughout the hour long conversation, with frequent laughter. Questions from the crowd were taken during the last ten minutes of this event. Blanks and Moore’s passion for their work and the fashion industry was engaging and inspiring.
“Fashion is one of the most fantastic mediums for storytelling,” Blanks said.
Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear exhibition will run from April 10 to Aug. 21.