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28th September 2016

FROW vs Runway

The runway currently lives in the shadow of fashion’s Front Row. Is this the future of fashion? Deputy Fashion Editor Sophie Soar weighs up the pros and cons of the Front Row celebs versus the runway models

Ever since the first models waltzed down the catwalk in the finest designer outfits for fashion weeks across the globe, it has been internationally recognised that those who open and close shows are the elite of the modelling world. From Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, to Christy Turlington and Cara Delevingne, the big names are always the ones to watch (need I say) during Fashion Week.

Recently however the tradition has changed. Rather than prancing, pouty faced, down the catwalk, models have been chosen alternatively as the celebs to grace the Front Row. This emphasises the current celebrity status of the model; she has transformed from anonymous coat hanger to public figure with millions of followers on social media. The ‘fashion model’ has morphed into ‘fashionable role model’.

Where does this then leave the future of fashion? Should we be more concerned with who’s watching the catwalk as opposed to the designers’ works to celebrate? Our gaze has shifted with the paparazzi focus and the voyeuristic lens chooses not the original focal object of these bi-annual shows- the designers’ collections- but alternatively those who deigned to stop by.

The A-list celebs present at shows are the epitome of status. A strong ‘FROW’ suggests the status and popularity of the brand. But do we want to see Cara clutching her oversized pup in support of Karl Lagerfeld rather than participating in the show itself? Questions were a-buzz following the Chanel Spring/Summer 2016 Haute Couture show as to why Cara was watching the Hadid’s smouldering sister act rather than participating alongside them.

With the success and celebrity status of models, they do now have the option and financial security to quite happily watch others filling their role. I believe however that this is just the current cycle of modelling and shall last only fleetingly. From the glamorous, curvy models of the fifties, to the grunge, alien-like creatures of the nineties, modelling is now a line up of famous, household names; with Delevingne, Jenner/Kardashian, Hadid or Baldwin tagged onto your name, it is a passport onto the catwalk.

So what’s next? The runway currently lives in the shadow of the FROW, given equal if not more weight in media as opposed to the designers’ hard work. It is for this reason I hope the obsession with beautiful, leggy stars gazing intently at the show through the lens of their iPhones is yet another phase in the fashion world. It is time for the shows themselves to head back into the limelight.

Whilst the hierarchy will undoubtedly continue amongst journalists, photographers, editors and bloggers battling to inch further forward, one can only hope the models will return to the tottering heights of stylish stardom safely on the runway. The next generation, perhaps third or fourth in rank on the catwalk this season, will re-establish the status and success of opening and closing a show. It’s the nature of fashion. We’re not here to celebrate the current flavour of the month; we’re here to celebrate the artistic talents of the century.

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