Fashion victims

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The Independent Culture
It was well known in the fashion industry that Prt--Porter was being made: if you were deemed worthy of being in it, that was some indication of your status. People were probably keener to be in it than they will be to see it. There's nothing new for us: it's not quite funny enough to enjoy as a comedy and it's not in-depth enough to feel you have learned something.

Some things seemed accurate. I noticed how, at the end of one of the shows, the three main fashion editors were off before the designer had come out for his applause. It's those things that you notice, neurotically, as you take your sweaty bow. It's the first letdown after all the hard work.

Fashion is such a temporary life; it really is an awful lot of work for one moment. And Altman's treatment in that sense is honest: he has made a very temporary film. It didn't show the obsessive quality that designers take on in order to get something off the ground. It made it all look very effortless - you just wander round tweaking shoulder pads and kissing people on the cheek. It is certainly like that at shows, but the build- up, where the mistakes, thrills and panic happen, is far more interesting in terms of human experience than the strutting on the catwalk.

I'm always struck how, on those big social occasions, people lose the ability to hang on to their sense of self. There were a lot of characters like that in the film, too, coagulating into one big mass where all their signals become identical. The designers playing themselves looked like actors; something in the quality of the film knocked the reality out of them. They seemed no more authentic than the fictional designers who were played by the cast.

I've heard a few fashion people saying they thought it was a set-up, and that Altman was taking the piss, just doing a colourful doodle of the industry. There are a lot of lost opportunities there, that's for sure. I once heard of a designer who was very, very aware of the value of his name and the recognition that his genuine talent had forged for him. Often he used to get an assistant to do something if it was a quick one, and that's what this film feels like. It feels like Robert Altman on holiday.

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