Modern fashion is just a popularity contest with profits as the prize

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Indy Lifestyle Online

I've wondered for a few weeks what Riccardo Tisci's aims are in moving his spring/summer 2016 Givenchy show to New York. He's showing as part of that city's Fashion Week this Friday, the first time for him, and for Givenchy.

Maybe it's about leap-frogging the competition and showing his vision before his European compatriots have even got their hands on their final fabrics – a classic display of fashion one-upmanship. Maybe it's about asserting that his vision for Givenchy is global, a fact many designers are keen to force, but few willing to up sticks to literally demonstrate. Maybe it's just a big birthday bonanza – Tisci's been at Givenchy a decade, appointed as a young relative unknown, and now one of fashion's key players. Why not have a party to celebrate?

Of course, Tisci is a big fan of the Kardashians. Maybe he's fitting it around Kim's third trimester?

Sounds ridiculous, but the Kardashians have been present and correct at many a Givenchy show – Kim, Kanye and Kris in March; only the latter at his combined menswear and couture show in June. In March, they sat a few feet from Givenchy's owner, the French billionaire Bernard Arnault (I was opposite). He didn't seem to mind. possibly because their names ratchet Tisci's Givenchy up several notches in terms of visibility – and all importantly, beyond the insular fashion world and its few magazine and newsprint pages, to a new audience. And, possibly, new customers.

There's an added twist to the Givenchy NYC tale – it's not just Kardashians who get to see Givenchy this season. Tisci is opening his show to the public – not by live stream (old hat), but by issuing 1,200 tickets via online registration to members of the public eager to see the spectacle. I couldn't imagine it working anywhere quite as well as New York, the origin of the fashion- cum-fiesta of the annual Victoria's Secret show (which sends sales skyrocketing, I've been told).

Populist is a word often thrown about with a pejorative air in fashion – the idea being that, if you're appealing to too many people, you're doing something wrong.

I both agree and disagree: its good to get your message out, but it's nice if your message is actually saying something provocative, or forward-looking, or at least interesting.

When Miuccia Prada told me her last collection was about "what women want", I didn't feel like she was talking about hawking handbags and trying to boost the bottom line. That said, with fashion's taste for an IPO still showing no sign of abating, we're all far more aware of the fashion labels whose sales and shares are soaring. Being popular earns dividends, literally.

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