This Year's Model: Fashion, Media, and the Making of Glamour

By Elizabeth A. Wissinger | Go to book overview

2
The Runway
Step into the Room Like It’s a Catwalk

The air outside the tents at New York City’s fashion week crackles with energy. I am on a research mission, milling around in the crowd outside the tents. Paparazzi, fashion students, film crews, fashion reporters, and curious onlookers jumble together as fashionistas and their acolytes in sky-high heels totter by. Still in their wild hair and makeup from the runway, models stop amid calls of “Over here!” “Just one more!” to pose obligingly for the battery of flashing cameras before disappearing into the black cars waiting to whisk them off to their next show. The excitement is palpable, filled with an energy that has taken on new significance since the Internet and social media have become a part of our daily lives.

A car pulls up and two young women emerge. The clutch of photographers bristles with lenses, shutters clicking in hopes of catching a newsworthy item or look as the women passed by. Who were they? No one seemed to know, but just by heading into the tents, they were fashion news. In the regime of the blink, the fashion show is no longer confined to the runways. Once designed to sell dresses to a hand-picked clientele, it is now a celebrity-studded spectacle, showcasing luxury brands and lifestyles through fashion coverage that no longer distinguishes between front of house, the runway, the flurry of activity backstage, and the crowd in the street waiting for a glimpse of a designer, editor, or the latest fashion trend. The attendees, the models, the preparation for the shows, the backstage, the parties—all are fodder for the fashion and style mill, churned out by newspapers, magazines, television, and the Internet. This chapter illustrates three key moments when the work of modeling reflected significant shifts in economic structures and imaging environments, changes highlighted when the form and function of the fashion show changed.

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