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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

Diane Von Furstenberg: Instaglam!

Why social media is moving fashion’s goal posts

15 Февраля 2016

Diane Von Furstenberg, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

It was chaos, but happy, free-range fashion fun as Diane Von Furstenberg stepped off the big show stage. The intrepid designer, whose mantra is “Be the woman you want to be”, landed in the centre of a group of lively models, as they prowled her personal space above her downtown store at the edge of New York’s High Line. 

This brave new world was not, of course, so revolutionary, as models prancing around and having fun was the norm when DVF came into fashion in the ra-ra 1970s.

The clothes didn’t seem so different either, which was part of the point, since that famous wrap dress not only looks as fashionable as it did in the hippie de luxe era, it also appeals to the daughters – and the granddaughters – of the earlier fashion generation. 

Diane Von Furstenberg, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

To some extent, the show was not about the clothes, although the vibrant pieces looked fresh in cut and colour. The event was a statement from DVF, who heads up the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), that the present system is untenable in this period of instant everything. 

The bigger picture started to make no sense: “Social media is a wonderful thing, but fashion shows used to be for trade with a few designers getting their clothes in the papers. Now it is so public and so different,” DVF said. 

Her next step as CFDA executive was to engage Boston Consulting to contact all those connected to fashion across the board to see how they felt about the decision to turn the shows into on-line selling platforms – as taken by Burberry, Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger. 

Diane Von Furstenberg, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

After talking to DVF and her new CEO Paolo Riva, I felt that this angst about the shows was about her own brand, as well as the vast swathe of international designers. Italian-born Riva’s own history, as first a banker and then an executive at Ferragamo and Valentino, must have made him sensitive to the Diane Von Furstenberg position. 

“The cadence of the seasons will change,” the executive said, “but price has become a strategic leverage,” Riva said. He explained that taking over a dynamic brand with women at its centre meant that the issue – especially in a global environment – was to focus on designer quality, a level of service and price. 

The show vignettes had models prancing, dancing and apparently in an office studying papers (shouldn’t they have been glued to their digital devices?). The effect on the Instagram posts was dynamic, with images of DVF dancing among models in front of make-up mirrors pinging across the blogosphere. 

Paolo Riva, CEO DVF

But novelty is everything on the Internet. Once every brand is holding a highly visual event, the screens will be crowded. DVF is adamant that presentations should be nearer time of sale: for example, a September presentation that focused on clothes for the next three months until end December. 

I like the theory, but I doubt the practise. I enjoy hearing DVF, passionate after all these years, say “I am always the friend in a woman’s closet” and “Everything we do starts with women first – what she needs and when she needs it”. 

But I wonder whether the result of changing the rhythm of brands so different in size and quality can be made unilaterally? The result could be chaotic rather than clarifying, which, to be honest, however dynamic and lively, was the effect of the DVF “at home” presentation.


Diane Von Furstenberg

Diane Von Furstenberg, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Diane Von Furstenberg, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

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