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Why do fashion shows matter?

With the New York Fashion Week kicking off and London Fashion Week to follow shortly, you may be wondering whether fashion shows actually matter to you. Isn't is just a chance for a select clique of fashionistas to show off crazy designs that no right minded person would ever actually wear, or would be only the preserve of the super-rich and famous?

A lesson from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’

If you want to learn about how the fashion industry works, where better to turn to than Hollywood movies? Ok, so it might not be the most reliable source of knowledge, but this is as good an excuse as any to include this clip from The Devil Wears Prada:

To summarise, Miranda (Meryl Streep) and some assistants are deciding between two similar belts for an outfit. Andy (Anne Hathaway) laughs because she thinks they look exactly the same.

Miranda: Something funny?

Andy: No, no, nothing... You know, it's just that both those belts look exactly the same to me. I'm still learning about all this stuff and, er...

Miranda: “This... stuff”? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select... I don't know... that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back.

But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise. It's not lapis. It's actually cerulean. And you're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent... wasn't it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers.

And then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin.

However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.

Trickle-down fashion styles

The fact is that the styles shown off on the catwalks set the trends that trickle down to the high-street and the fashions you end up wearing, whether you’re aware of it or not. The choice is not whether to be fashionable or not, but which fashions you will adopt, and whether you will be aware of them. It permeates all of our lives, so why not take an interest?

Creativity unleashed - trying out new ideas

It’s a fundamental part of human nature to create, to make things that are beautiful, or original, or shocking.

To find new things that work, you have to go a bit crazy! Fashion shows are a peek into the mad creative minds of the people who spend their time experimenting and coming up with new ways of making and wearing fashion. Fashion shows are a Research and Development showcase.

Even if 99% of ideas go no further than the end of the catwalk, that’s still an amazing 1% that get away into the mainstream to change how we look.

Does it matter?

Whether fashion really matters is itself a matter of opinion! But for most of us, clothes aren’t just a functional way of protecting our naked bodies from the elements. Accessories aren’t just something we carry for their usefulness.

Instead, fashion is about beauty and self-expression. Fashion is a way of identifying ourselves in different ways – as someone who is part of the in crowd, or as a maverick choosing our own style. Even the choice not to pay attention to fashion is a fashion statement.

So if you have an interest in the latest trends which will be hitting the high-streets in a few months, if you’re interested in art and beauty and the shock of the new, yes, fashion shows matter.

Celebrating creativity

If you’re not interested, that’s fine, you don’t have to be. Each of us has our own interests, whether that’s movies or gardening or music or whatever. But don’t be too quick to dismiss something just because you don’t understand it – every way we humans create and shape our lives is valuable, from our hairstyles to handbags, from satchels to backpacks, however and wherever we show creativity.

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