Shows these days are a sea of phones. We want to document fashion as it happens, whether it’s the opening look, the viral moment of a nineties supermodel closing or the Vine-ing of a finale. But our Instagram habit is also creating a weird sense of disconnect. Shows should be about immersing yourself in a designer’s universe, yet the moment you hold up a phone, something happens that distorts the moment - whether it’s you doing it or some genius who has decided to use an iPad as a camera, preferably held out in stretched arms at just the right angle to block your view.
Sometimes I’ve left a show feeling like I didn’t actually see it. I’ve spoken to plenty of other people who say the same. Even if you’re super quick at taking a picture of an exit, writing something and tweeting it, you’ve already distanced yourself from what’s going on and probably not paid proper attention to the last five looks that walked by. In a way, it’s the spectator version of phoning it in.
Maybe this kind of detachment is just another symptom of a postmodern world. It's not like I'm against taking a picture at a fashion show, I’m just wondering what it’s doing to how we experience and absorb it – something a team of people have spent months obsessing about down to the last detail, including accompanying soundtrack and set. As The Independent's Fashion Editor Alex Fury noted in The Daily on Sunday, show goer's phone dependency means there's hardly any applause after a show anymore as everyone is preoccupied filming the finale.
It's not a scenario that’s exclusive to fashion either. At gigs, you get people who watch an entire show through their phone. I’m all for the rabid fan picture, but there’s something so alienating about standing in a massive crowd where everyone has mentally checked out and turned into mindless robots filming crappy footage of a dot on stage.
Fashion today feeds on the instant image and fear of missing out
So what's the solution to all of this? Short of getting someone else to take your pictures so you can concentrate on the show, I’m not sure. In most cases, it's not like you can opt out of taking pictures. Fashion today feeds on the instant image and fear of missing out, and as a publication you have a responsibility to keep readers and followers in the loop. They want to see what you’re seeing.
Last week, Pinar and Viola did a dA-Zed Guide to Selfies, and after this week’s London shows, we can add another category: F for front row selfies. Not smug ones taken pre-show (although that’s cringe enough) but right in the middle of it. As far as show etiquette goes, it’s hard to think of anything more vain and disrespectful. #justno