Fashion Week - clothes, controversy and chaos in the media
Fashion Week always seems to come around with shocking speed – it might be the months of pre-planning (ensuring it never really disappears from your mind) or the extensive post-event wrap work - but in all likelihood it's the stress of the week itself. Working the full seven days (or more likely eight or nine including the pack in and out) at any Fashion Week is exhausting, but is an experience none who do will ever forget.
It's an experience I'm lucky enough to see start afresh each year in the teams of volunteers, photographers and hosts I manage – and one that constantly refreshes my own personal enjoyment. Regulars can become a bit jaded – it's just another year darling – but the excitement that shines on a new attendees face is a fantastic thing to see, and is part of what I love about returning.
NZFW 2011 was always going to be interesting – there were a few notable absences from the designer line-ups but we also saw some previously missing designers return once more to the runways. 2011 also saw NZFW move to the very new and very shiny Viaduct Events Centre, bringing with it a whole raft of problems…where would the choke points be for crowd flow? Would the rather scattered layout work at all? Could people adapt to having real bathrooms instead of portaloos?
Luckily yes – the new venue worked out a treat. Turns out having real walls, real bathrooms and one central space make the whole process much smoother to my own, and the entire team's, delight. But NZFW 2011 wasn't without controversy – it began with an opening speech by Pieter Stewart, NZFW Director. She said its future was in jeopardy. Sponsorship had been tough this year, she said. "Rugby World Cup has taken a huge amount out of the economy." After 11 years, there might not be a Fashion Week next year. Things went a little crazy in the media, with plenty of subsequent public debate and media coverage (my personal favourite being an NZ Herald article entitled "NZ Fashion Week desperate for cash").
Following this came a rather interesting debacle where Stuff.co.nz's Bronwyn Williams Williams called out Adrian Hailwood's collection as "bleeding awful" and proceed to lambast fellow fashion writers as "chicken s**t" for failing to give true opinions on the collections they reported on. A fellow journalist, "gasped with horror when I told her what I am about to write - she warned me I'd be blacklisted" – this remains to be seen, but either way it was an interesting addition to an otherwise fairly serene NZFW.
And of course there is the final act at NZFW 2011 – the live broadcast of New Zealand's Next Top Model. Post a drug scandal involving one of the three finalists, the season finale was performed live at the WORLD show to a beyond capacity crowd with great success. Racking in 1,000,000 Kiwis nationwide (how?) during the live broadcast, and 15,000 online streams by the next day – we all love a pretty face apparently.
Thus the door closes on another Fashion Week – following all the dramas and disasters and chaos, I still can't wait until its back.