The app changing the catwalk
Instagram is having a noticeable impact on the catwalk, changing the way fashion is presented and consumed. With such a wide reach and large audience, fashion brands are exploiting the publicity potential of Instagram’s ability to distribute photos of their shows and presentations fast and far. They are making their shows more spectacular or ‘juicier bait’ for the camera-phones of show attendees.
It may come as a surprise that an app so young (only having just passed its third birthday) may have such a great influence on so large an industry. Surprising too, given the nature of the images commonly associated with the app i.e. cups of coffee, plates of food, small animals, children and of course, selfies. But despite the mundanity of the majority of Instagram’s content, it boasts 150 million active users and represents a profound cultural phenomenon – the instant communication of what we see. This includes, in the case of fashion professionals, fashion shows. And what particularly lends Instagram to the fashion industry is its immediacy. An image or video taken with a camera-phone at a fashion show can be uploaded and transmitted to thousands in seconds. Fashion brands are now aware of this and have, in recent seasons, attempted to make their shows as spectacular or ‘Instagram-able’ as possible.
For example, at its Paris show this season, Dior suspended €1 million worth of flowers from the ceiling. A breathtaking sight that made its way to the Instagram feeds of millions. Similarly spectacular was the smoking pile-up of cars at the Givenchy show. Or take the aquatic drums at Kenzo, which sprayed water to the beat of the music pulsing throughout the show. Miuccia Prada commissioned a series of murals painted by six contemporary artists which, nodding to the Mexican and South American muralists and L.A. street artists, created a dramatic backdrop for the show. Karl Lagerfeld also paid tribute to fashion’s friendship with art by erecting an array of Pop Art paintings and installations in the Grand Palais in Paris to set the scene for his Chanel collection. Again, pictures of this set made their way to Instagram feeds around the world. All of these examples harness the natural inclination of the average modern day person – to lunge for their phones and snap pictures. Brands are now aware of this and are posing for the Instagram camera, even if it does mean accepting the unavoidable: a vintage filter.
But what next? Nowadays technology is rapidly developing and people are easily bored; what will the next form of social media embraced by the fashion industry be? Perhaps it will be Snapchat, the photo messaging app which is already posing a powerful threat to Instagram. Allegedly worth $3 billion, 400 million photos (which can be viewed for between one and 10 seconds) are received in the app per day. Time will tell how fashion brands decide to respond to this newer contender.
Words by Ted Stansfield