My headset frequency cracks with women screeching into it, dispensing vague orders. My shoes are torturous. My sweat glands are at an all time high under the runway lights. As I stand wobbly-legged, perspiring, and mostly bewildered, women of the highest ranks in fashion pass before me.
Hi Grace Coddington. Oh hey Rachel Zoe (or what’s left of her). Oddly, Ms. Wintour was missing in action this year.
In that moment, I wondered how this industry could dish out so much funding for events that last a mere five minutes.
But really, fashion has outlived us all. It has survived war, been through the most depressing of Depressions, through decades that we could have done without – the works. It deserves its moments of shining glory… and thousands of dollars in taffeta and tulle.
What makes fashion so tenacious?
“Well, it’s an art. Just like music or dance – it’s an art that’s sort of intangible,” says Lisa Lupinski, press rep for Karla Otto PR who represent designer of the hour, Thakoon. “Nobody can pinpoint why they love it. It’s a craft done well by only a handful of people.”
And when asked if recessionistas and fashionistas are becoming synonymous with the other, Lupinski adds, “people will always save room in their budget to look good in what they’re wearing, trust me.”
At the Thakoon fashion show on Monday September 14th, shouting women dressed in all black and frantic men sporting bowties and black-rimmed glasses swarm the bee’s nest that is backstage.
The thousand-dollar gear designed by Thakoon Panchigul hangs on the racks away from the crowds backstage. A horde of interns barricades the racks, shoo-ing away anyone coming to admire the pieces before the unveiling of the new collection. A bit dramatic if you ask me.
While the fashion industry in America has suffered financially from the waning economy, Thakoon remains undiscouraged and ever inspired. “Thakoon is doing well. Michelle [Obama] and the release of The September Issue really helped launch him,” says Victoria Vinton, bystander and friend of the designer. “Plus he’s becoming known in Paris and the UK,” adds Vinton.
The First Lady stirred up much attention for the young designer by wearing his floral frocks to the DNC and the Presidential debates, among other social events.
The recent release of The September Issue tracks Vogue editor Anna Wintour through the development of the magazine’s biggest annual issue. Holly Liss, assistant to VP of sales for Helmut Lang says, “I knew of Thakoon, but the movie really brought to my attention how important he’s becoming.”
We get it. Thakoon is blowing up. But how is the rest of the industry doing this year? A figure pulled from the recent New York Times article “High Fashion Faces A Redefining Moment” by Cathy Horyn, claims that “department store cut orders for fall goods by 30 percent.”
In that same New York Times article, a senior buying executive from Macy’s says, “I think the true designer business is in trouble, no question about it.”
Then how is Thakoon, a somewhat up-and-coming designer, staying afloat? Surely, Michelle Obama and Anna Wintour can’t be fully responsible for his burgeoning line, can they?
Perhaps yes. Because, despite the sad state of the fashion industry, and despite the universal reluctance to spend in retail this year, people are setting their fears aside to join the show. The fashion show, that is. A show in which Thakoon landed a lead this year.
And in the words of an unknown show attendee, “if Anna Wintour wants to make you her pet project, shit, you’re worth knowing right now.”