I have a profound loathing of the fusion of fashion and contemporary dance. In fact, any dance. And theatre. And music – beyond a catwalk soundtrack. Maybe I’m a Luddite, but I like my fashion to be just that. Fashion. I don’t need any other justification.
The rest of the world, apparently, disagrees. Fashion has been transformed into a spectator sport. It started years ago – not even with John Galliano and Alexander McQueen in the Nineties, though, with casts of thousands and budgets of millions, they took the fashion show to Cecil B. DeMille heights. Antony Price kicked off the fashion-show-as-spectacle in the Eighties, staging them in the Camden Palace and selling tickets to the public.
Fashion as theatre, however, goes back even further. Arguably to 1976, when Yves Saint Laurent first put the models in his Ballets Russes collection on a raised catwalk, showcasing nothing but extravagant eveningwear. Saint Laurent removed fashion from everyday life. He made it into a performance art.
At the Birmingham NEC, from 6 to 10 December this year, The Clothes Show Live celebrates its 25th anniversary. The catwalk space – dubbed the “Fashion Theatre”– seats 5,000. And forget the fashion: the show is all-singing, all-dancing. In the past, Boyzone and the Spice Girls have performed.
Forgetting the fashion is my issue. Don’t we lose the clothes in all that spectacle? They are, after all, what really matters. The clothes made Galliano and McQueen, Price and Saint Laurent great designers. The rest is just window-dressing. So stop making a song and dance about it. Especially if the fashions don’t stand up to the scrutiny.