Features, London fashion week, Milan Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week - Gossip, Paris Fashion Week
By Lauren Bravo on March 15th, 2010
So, the calendar’s four main fashion weeks are wrapped up for another season.
Autumn Winter 2010 has been an exciting run of collections, and while we’ve been watching intently to spot our favourite upcoming trends, we’ve got to admit our attention hasn’t always been on the designers. At times we’ve had half an eye on the catwalk, and half an eye on that all-important hot seat of style, the front row.
Yes, sometimes the outfits in the audience can be just as compelling as the clothes on the runway (and a darn sight more wearable too). The star quality of their front row has become an unofficial measure of a designer’s up-and-comingness, with magazines playing Spot the Celeb and numerous show late to start because one key attendee is yet to arrive – Grace Coddington reportedly walked in so late at Valentino that she was greeted by a chorus of boos from waiting photographers. Tsk tsk.
There’s also plenty of gossip potential to be had in the seating arrangements, as movie stars and aristocrats bump knees with artists, editors, politicians and trustfund tweenies. We see the pictures and like to imagine the conversations – do Samantha Cameron and Pixie Geldof swap recipes over their Vitamin Waters? When did Beth Ditto and Bella Freud become mates? Just what were Jennifer Saunders and Melanie Blatt discussing at Betty Jackson? An All Saints/Ab Fab team-up? Oh, the intrigue. Oh, the possibilities.
And oh, oh, the clothes. Front rowers are an endless source of outfit inspiration, particularly useful when they act as translation guides for some of the looks coming down the catwalk. We’d still be lost as to how to work double denim if it wasn’t for Alexa Chung‘s tireless tuition (mix stonewash with indigo, and voluminous shirts with skintight jeggings to avoid looking too much like a Van Halen tribute band on a dress down Friday). Meanwhile, Christopher Kane’s floral leather dresses just make so much more sense when you can scan from the models to the benches and picture the whole look on Emma Watson.
Crucially, those front row photos are also important for demonstrating the cultural variations in the season’s dressing. Or, to speak in snappy alliteration: Who Wore What, Where? Because while the same faces might pop up in every capital (that means you, Ms Chung), each city has its own defining look.
Here’s our ShinyStyle lesson in fashion geography – pay attention, you may be tested on this next season:
London – “Anarchy in the UK”
The look: We’re known for our scruffy breed of dressed-down glam, and this year the Brit pack didn’t disappoint. Think visible roots in tousled hair, hulking statement shoes, lots of black, metallics, and a typically eclectic mix of leather, denim, lycra and lace.
The key outfit: Biker jacket, minidress, lame leggings and platforms, accessorised with a scarlet scowl.
The front-row faces: Alexa Chung, Pixie Geldof, Daisy Lowe, Mischa Barton, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
The secret weapon: Baptiste dry shampoo, for hair that says, “I haven’t been home” (buy it here).
Paris – “Chirpy shirty chic chic”
The look: Gorgeous Gaelic nonchalance as only the French can do it (though the rest of us can try). Lots of crisp white tailoring and utility styles, with statement coats and long, glossy manes.
The key outfit: Cropped, slim-fit cargo pants, the perfect white t-shirt, fitted boyfriend blazer and classic stilettos, with a little furry something to keep out le chill.
The front-row faces: Vanessa Paradis, Lou Doillon Leigh Lezark, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld.
The secret weapon: Vanish stain remover, to keep those shirts whiter-than-white (spillages are très Anglaise).
Milan – “La Dolce Vita, baby”
The look: Va-va-voom Italian insouciance, with animal prints, metallics, shots of vibrant colour and big, big hair. Belissima.
The key outfit: A cocktail dress in a sumptuous colour, leopard print coat, spindly heels, killer clutch and sunglasses.
The front row faces: Margherita Missoni, Lindsay Lohan, Zoe Saldana, Rachel Zoe.
The secret weapon: Lipstick. The bolder the better, preferably in a coral hue as a nod to the summer’s beachy palette – check out these.
New York – “XOXO, Front Row…”
The look: Gossip Girl grows up. Impossibly glossy and impeccably groomed, with all emphasis on mixing textures and fabrics, with understated shapes and statement accessories.
The key outfit: Tulip skirt in a scrunch fabric, teamed with suede ankle boots, a silk blouse, a cropped jacket and a blowdry.
The front row faces: Olivia Palermo, Taylor Momsen, Whitney Port, the Olsen twins.
The secret weapon: Nail varnish in a fudgey colour, for on-trend Upper East Side talons. Find your perfect shade here.
Which fashion capital do YOU think had the style edge? Leave us your comments below.