20 July 2013

It's been two years since the first fashion show I attended in Paris, and a recent skype fashion reporting conversation with my mum gave me an aha moment (should I pay royalty to Oprah?) when she asked, "So, what show was there a latent mid-show applause?". It struck me right to my brain, that as I recall, no one got mid-show applause. Not even Chanel or Dior (not that I have attended both. Even the fact that my grandma and my mum attended few of them a light year ago didn't make me included to their to-invite list. But I watched them online. And it's okay. The day will come).

Okay, back to the point. I asked my mum further about that, what she really meant with 'latent mid-show applause'.

"You know, when a designer shows something breakthrough, something really new that people have never seen before, or simply, so extravagant that you hold your breath when the exit happens". When I said I have never experienced such thing, she said that it's weird. Recalling the last show she attended, Christian Lacroix's show back in 2006, she said that people literally applauded every exit. People threw roses when he walked out on finale along with the braid, taking a bow. I said, "He got to pay people to do that". "Who gives a damn? He's Lacroix. He deserved it", quoting her words. Excuse her.

Christian Lacroix taking a bow after haute couture spring/summer 2006 show

So, what is happening? Do people stop seeing something really new, and what appears on runway is a mere repetition and rendition of what have existed and been showed before? Like, no more glamourama happening on runway any more? Or like Jean-Charles de Castelbajac expressed it very well, that every body is playing karaoke now?

She explained that sometimes, mid-show applause happens when there is something a bit lavish and novel and a village of the designer's friends invited to cheer him/her along the show. Therefore it's not likely genuine, and it's definitely not latent. I have been in such situation, but since I never give applause during the show, I saw some people are affected by those cheering friends- a lot of people are, you know, the bandwagon effect. People just jump in joining the bandwagon of applauding attendees, even though they didn't intend to do so before. Never happened to me, though. I'm always busy tweeting-instagraming-photographing that I once barely recognized Mila Jovovich sitting on the other side of me at a couture show.

Mid-show applause in a fashion show is so rare that I think a fashion show resembles an orchestra performance that one must not clap hands during the play, and just applauding when it finishes. Or at least, in fashion case, when the ultimate exit happens (mostly bridal look), or at finale, or when the designer taking a bow. Let alone standing ovation. When Cathy Horyn was giving Galliano standing ovation in 2006 with Galliano acknowledged her gesture by stopping in front of her and giving a little bow, it was such a mind-blowing scarce runway moment which just happens once every 122 years or so. Because, when a prolific critic like Cathy stood up for a show, it means that the show is genuinely beyond believe.

It of course, like Grace Coddington explained in her book memoir, applies exception that "for a legend of Paris such as Yves (Saint Laurent), a standing ovation at the finale of his collection was a given, no matter how good or bad the show". So much did he get used to it that he said "Pourquoi ne sont-ils applaudissent?" (Why aren't they applauding?) when several exits already down on the 1992 runway, the thirtieth-anniversary of the couturier, yet nobody clapping hands. Eventually it did happen whatsoever. It's Yves (and not just Saint Laurent).

When I stroll and scroll online pages and get myself drown to the see of vintage videos of fashion show, it is more more than often I found out this occurred.

Watch below as an example. Thierry Mugler spring/summer haute couture in 1997.

It was the mere sixth exit, a model wearing two-piece shiny black coat with something metallic beneath. When the model ripped off the upper coat, revealing the alien-silhouette glossy grey-stone wrap dress with bold shoulder, then ripping off the lower part, unveiling the even more appealing above-the-knee dress with broad stark hips, the attendees went crazy. And as it's already started, the excitement was rushing that the applause continued for the following looks. People whistled, cheered, and applauded every time another following model stepped out.

It all happened in the past, way before all savvy society was even familiar with search button. With the world is more connected than ever, where ideas could come from unexpected places and periods, is it too much to expect someone creating something that makes us hand-clapping?

Signorefandi, hunger for haute habilatory...