At most big-name fashion shows, there’s a clear social hierarchy among guests. The front row serves as a visual tip-sheet of who’s who and why they’re there: celebrity fans, retired models, top fashion editors, bloggers with brand recognition, and luxury retailers all get prime seating.
Needless to say, “standing” tickets are the lowest rungs on the hierarchical ladder, reserved for interns and interlopers.
You can tell a lot about a brand from its front row. Star wattage doesn’t always line up with industry respect, for instance. But a guest list stacked with celebs and fashion insiders, as it was at Raf Simons’s Calvin Klein debut, is a good indicator of both commercial success and industry renown.
Then there are big-name shows where the social order is more ambiguous. Take the mixed crowd at Phillipp Plein, where A-list stars (Madonna, Kylie Jenner) rubbed shoulders with the D-list ones (Paris Hilton), and a slew of seemingly wealthy, nameless peacockers joined them to be photographed by street style photographers—to see-and-be-seen and (hopefully) end up in Guest of a Guest party pictures the next day.
It was a mixed bag at Narciso Rodriguez on Tuesday night, too. Outside the show, a young man who claimed he was with the media outlet Russia Today wielded a mop-like microphone and asked guests what they were wearing. (Since when does Russia Today do fashion coverage?)
In recent seasons, the atmosphere at Rodriguez’s shows has been intimate and serene. It’s the only show this reporter has attended where people talk to each other in hushed tones both before and after the runway presentation.
Sarah Jessica Parker was chirping quietly to her seatmate in that girly, ageless voice of hers in the front row on Tuesday. She wore one of his washer-embroidered dresses from last season over a sheer black long sleeve tee and black stockings. Raf Simons, beloved Belgian designer whose debut show at Calvin Klein was the show to see this week, squeezed in next to her. They looked like old friends: No need for
When two of the most long-adored people in Planet Fashion turn up to a show, you know it’s an important one—not the buzziest, necessarily, but one that is respected in the biz. Indeed, Rodriguez has been designing some of the most effortlessly chic women's wear for so long that his name is sometimes overshadowed by new hot tickets.
But fashion purists love Rodriguez. His clothes are pared down but exquisitely cut and styled. When other designers resort to gimmicks to stand out, Rodriguez remains a masterful minimalist.
That much was clear from his fall/winter collection, which opened with a black wool top with thin, horizontal cutouts on the chest and black wool trousers cropped above the ankle. The chest cutout was a recurring motif in the collection. (SJP pulled out her phone for a black, knee-length dress with cleavage-exposing cutouts.)
Metallic satin dresses that almost looked like liquid echoed pieces from last season. Streamlined jackets and trousers in burnt orange provided flashes of color. Tops with wing-like split sleeves that trailed behind models like streamers were at once simple and stunning.
The crowd was charmed and cheered Rodriguez when he came out at the end. There was no mad dash for the door, as there often is. Vogue staffers took their time walking out. Ken Downing, the fashion director at Neiman Marcus, whispered something to someone about needing sleep. It was day five of fashion week, after all, but everyone seemed blissed out as they left. Rodriguez’s shows have that effect on people.
Narciso Rodriguez by Lizzie Crocker
Narciso Rodriguez by Lizzie Crocker