It’s Not About Fashion, It’s About Style

Fashion shows have always been more than a simple showcase of designer clothes from the season. All that is really necessary to show off the clothes is a few mannequins, or maybe even just coat hangers and a rack, but fashion houses have always felt the need to show off their clothes in a spectacle of scenery and styling. The clothes don't create the same atmosphere or contribute to the same theme without all those unnecessary extras. The attention to and importance of scenery just keeps growing; a space transformed with every show, and, more recently literal transportations for shows in various locations.

But the styling of the collection is even more important. Careful styling can transform clothes; one can watch a runway show, buy a piece from that collection, and it would look completely different separated from its kind. It's the reason why brands with heavily themed shows can still make a profit from those who don't wish to look so themed. The motif of a collection is only present when the pieces are all styled and in a setting that supports the same motif. When by themselves, the clothes are just clothes.

Chanel is an excellent example of this. During the shows, a Chanel collection will look horribly themed, normally looking at place alongside Dr. Seuss characters, but on racks in a store the clothes look far more subtle and wearable.

Gucci men's wear spring collection and women's resort collection.

At the end of the day, there are two components to a good runway show: the newness of the clothes and the newness of the presentation of the clothes. If the quality of one of those components is higher than the other, the less of the other component is needed in order to be fresh. For example, if the styling and scenery is innovative, then the actual clothes themselves don't need to be that new, but if the clothes are eye-openingly revolutionary, then they can speak for themselves and don't require many distractions.

On men's fashion week in Milan, journalist Angelo Flaccavento wrote for Business of Fashion:

"We have entered a wholly new era of fashion design: a post-postmodern age in which what's pivotal is the way items are assembled, not the way pieces are designed. The most influential inventors working today, Miuccia Prada in primis, are not, in this respect, creators of radically new things, but heralds of a different, more personal ways of wearing things."

Today, designers are not using new silhouettes, details, or fabrics, but instead creating fresh styling for what already exists. That statement is not a question of the creativity of these designers, but instead where they choose to channel their inspiration in order to create a successful runway show.