[Fashion in an instant... Illustrative image collaged by me, with original images in the public domain].
It's often said that we live in a society of instant gratification, and the fashion industry is certainly not exempt from this statement. A designer may have spent months realising the dream for their latest collection, but once it's out in the public domain then it can often have a very short shelf life (luckily things are pretty cyclical, so you can be sure that most major trends will resurface within the decade, but still - us fashion lovers aren't known to hang about). Today we really do live on the cutting edge in terms of coverage, with so many ways to connect to the wider world, allowing a final year fashion student to gain a global audience in a matter of hours if their graduate show offering catches the right attention. So how do you stay ahead and keep your finger on the pulse of style when things are so hectic? Here's my guide to being in the know.
SHOWstudio: The Fashion Revolution
Since 2000 there's been an amazing broadcast tool that's on the lips of every fashion lover worth their salt: SHOWstudio. Established by the photographer Nick Knight, this is a digital platform for fashion film and its related technologies (illustration and photography) which has involved collaborating with some of the industry's most powerful names, including Alexander McQueen, Gareth Pugh and Lady Gaga. Often content is streamed live, which really democratises the audience and means that a teenage girl in her house gets to see the latest content at the same time as a fashion writer at her desk.
If, like me, you were lucky enough to visit the SHOWstudio exhibition at Somerset House in 2009, you'll have seen in the flesh just how exciting it is to learn about this huge leap forward in fashion communication. Not only do you see the glossy finished product with a SHOWstudio piece, but you get to see the inner workings and the development of the idea. Of course, the exhibition had plenty of interactive elements to inspire you, and in 2012 the website is still continuing to reach out to its viewers, with current projects including a photo montage to be installed in the Parisian shopping mecca, Printemps, which will be streamed live from tomorrow. Knight was correct in calling the exhibition 'Fashion Revolution', because those words seem so very apt.
Social Networking: The Hashtag Hype
The great thing about Twitter and fashion is that you can find out the gossip from the catwalk before the last model has even walked. Want a backstage glimpse of the make-up? It'll be on there. Want to see the first few looks, hot off the press? Search for the designer's hashtag. Other shows were broadcast live via the designer's website or streamed on Youtube, with Twitter users quick to spread the word. Of course, the fashion event of the year in 2011 was Kate Middleton's wedding, and Twitter was ablaze with McQueen fever once we'd seen the bride's choice of dress. Facebook, meanwhile, was the go-to domain for bridesmaid Pippa Middleton supporters, as there were multiple appreciation societies set up in honour of her bum/ass/rear (take your pick) even before many of us had finished toasting to Kate and Wills.
Street Style and Blogging: Strike a Pose
The fashion blogosphere, as far as I see it, has two main areas: photo blogs and personal blogs. Of course, the two can overlap, but essentially the photographer tends to stay behind the camera and the personal blogger primarily uses themselves as the model. In both cases - by analysing what people on the street are wearing, or what they're blogging about wearing - we can look at things from a grassroots level and see where micro-trends begin.
The fresh and exciting opinions of bloggers who aren't necessarily trained as journalists or photographers have, unfortunately, ruffled some feathers amongst what we might call the Fashion House of Lords - those people who have been going to the shows for years and rightly feel they've earned their seat. Obviously there's no need to call these established show attendees and photographers irrelevant, but what the blogosphere has done is added to the mix of backgrounds and viewpoints, and that should be seen as a positive thing. Bloggers do not herald the end of the fashion press, by any means; they're just making them more accountable to the public.
Magazine Installations: Grazia, Sketchbook and The Paper Eaters
Being an absolute magazine hoarder and clothes horse, the idea of a publication coming to life within a shopping centre or store is basically a dream come true for me. This really is the perfect example of fashion as it happens; the creation of a magazine using real people and opening up the staff's expertise for everyone to see. Grazia did this way back in 2008 with a pop-up magazine office inside a perspex box in Westfield (how they got any work done surrounded by all those shops, I'll never know), whilst Sketchbook Magazine did it in 2010 in trendy Carnaby, along with Amelia's Magazine in the same year. What's more, the Sketchbook pop-up shop was pitched to the editor by a fashion student - talk about bringing it back to the people.
I took part in a new and bold magazine installation in Selfridges during April 2010, which was the brainchild of artist duo The Girls, a.k.a. Andrea Blood and Zoe Sinclair. They produced several issues of The Paper Eaters Magazine, which combined a love of 80s teen publications like Jackie with a love of vintage fashion, beauty and craft. As a voluntary contributor I really got stuck in and was able to interview illustrators and fashion students whilst the installation surrounding me was being explored by the public, with a video area, a dressing up section and free make-overs by Illamasqua. It was an amazingly creative experience, and something that really opened my eyes to fashion as a collaborative, live project.
Fashion, as it happens, is pulse-quick and intriguing to watch, but it's even better to get involved. Whether you're tweeting your views on the latest pieces from Vivienne Westwood Anglomania, helping to create a SHOWstudio masterpiece or finding your niche as a street style photographer, there's a way for you to make it happen. Jump in and join the fashion revolution.