Ready To Wear: Fashion shows are becoming ever-more exclusive affairs

 

The new collections are currently in full flow and if, in recent times, the overriding rule has been to eschew intimacy in favour of high-profile, blockbuster presentation – generating as much publicity as possible being fashion's Holy Grail – that may be about to change.

For the past two seasons, Riccardo Tisci, creative director at Givenchy, has shown his haute couture collection [pictured] to small groups in a grand Parisian town house which is – clearly – more elegant than even the most overdressed of marquees. Then, of course, there's the return of Tom Ford to the fashion universe to consider. His signature women's collection was launched in New York last season and the hand-picked guest list numbered no more than 100. Today, "you see the clothes on the runway, and within an hour or so, they're online," he said. "They're overexposed."

And that they are. At least a few of the world's most fêted designers – most of them show in Paris – have long adopted this view. Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe and Tao all choose to invite only the initiated, the argument being that if you don't understand, you're not welcome, a message both audaciously elitist and crystal clear. Balenciaga's head designer, Nicolas Ghesquière, notoriously upsets more than a few fashion followers by turning down their requests for seats season after season – numbers here are limited to around 200.

At least some of the time, the reasoning behind such a mindset is pragmatic – smaller shows, by their very nature, tend to be less expensive, though it's safe to assume that is not the motivation behind Ford's move. Still, there's nothing like a fashionable bargain, which also has the effect of making a label seem more desirable than ever. It's a no-lose situation, then. Because, in rather brilliantly teenage manner, even the most experienced fashion editor, told that her presence will not be requested at a show, thank you, will be almost as worried they might be missing out on something as they are miffed. And that applies whether the event in question is the hottest ticket in town or not.

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