While the rest of New York Fashion Week was caught up in its regular Bryant Park frenzy today, designer Marc Bouwer was busy blazing his own fashion trail, exclusively showing his S/S 2009 collection on his website, thereby giving everyone a front row view.
Of course, we have seen other designers, notably Stefano Pilati for YSL (first with menswear, and most recently women's resort) and Husein Chalayan, create videos to showcase their collections. And, Giorgio Armani made history when he streamed his Armani Prive couture collection for Spring 2007 online, gaining kudos for democratising the storied world of haute couture. Net-a-Porter also innovated by putting up Roland Mouret's RM19 collection in an online video and commerce site mere hours after showing during Paris Couture.
But Bouwer's approach is a first for an independent designer without the clout of a YSL or Armani, nor the support of a major online retailer. So, how well did his experiment work?
In short, I was underwhelmed.
I tuned into the Bouwer website today after a long day of shows and, leaving the aesthetic of his collection aside, I found myself wanting something more. Neither did his online presentation have the artfulness of Chalayan's videos nor did it have the commercial savvy of the RM/Net-a-Porter collaboration, which allowed viewers to order directly from the runway. Rather, it was just a video of women walking down a runway to a soundtrack.
And here's the kicker. This unimaginative effort still cost up to $100,000, according to an Eyewitness News segment on Bouwer that has shown on repeat in the back seat of New York City taxis this week (though a WSJ article reported that the show cost up to $75,000.)
Either way, while Bouwer's effort to be innovative is admirable, what's the point of doing an online show if it doesn't make a lasting impression?
At the end of the day, a fashion show, online or not, should create a mood that viewers will remember. If designers are going to show their work online, they must not constrain themselves to the format of a traditional fashion show. Rather, they should think out of the box, using all the potential of new media to do something that wasn't possible before.
Marc Bouwer S/S 2009 courtesy of Marc Bouwer.