John Galliano’s return to ready-to-wear was always going to cause a furore whatever happened. And lo, when at last Friday’s womenswear show in Paris, Galliano incited an Insta-frenzy by sending a bunch of models crab-walking down the catwalk with clownish faces and pigeon-toed feet, social media collapsed.
The following day Vivienne Westwood followed suit. The designer was on relatively safe form tackling gender instead of, say, fracking, and eschewed the usual gender-bending tropes – women wore oversized menswear, men wore womenswear cut to fit their shape – to create an attention-grabbing show. But like Galliano, her most talked about moment did not involve the clothes. Rather it was the finale in which Boardwalk Empire’s Paz de la Huerta (her with the lips and the no-brows and the much-lauded bum) in an exposing cream blazer zealously snogged a man in a wedding dress and pinstripe trousers. For the bow, this scene was recreated by Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler.
Finally there was Giles, whose London fashion week show which saw flashes of bizarre interperative dance. As for the clothes? They were almost secondary.
It all adds up; with the mainstreaming of social media, and Instagram dispatches almost eclipsing actual reports, shows are jostling for space. How else to get attention if not by creating these clickable moments? But Westwood’s five-second moment – lascivious, bawdy and bleurgh – alongside Galliano’s unexpected walks show howchoreographed gif-able catwalk moments are becoming a trend.
Stunts on the catwalk have and always will exist, especially in shows helmed by Westwood and Galliano. But in an era long dominated by a terrifying number of celebmodels (see reality TV stars Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner monopolising the recent catwalks) it marks a new twist in designer attention-seeking; rather than hiring famous names as clothes horses, this is about turning random, anonymous models into characters.