Amidst the heady whirl of fashion weeks, the shows and the clothes, it is easy to forget that special spot everyone ogles at – the Front Row. Air time is often given to the gossipy dissection of who-sat-where, but the greater significance of this prime vantage-point stop is somewhat overlooked. Celebrities always add that certain frisson to the proceedings, and knowing which movers and shakers in the fashion world (and beyond) are striking their best Front Row Pose is a good indicator of where the designer, and the host country, stands in the global Fashion pecking order.
New York Fashion Week went first, setting the standard for the ultra-groomed front row fashion packs. Much like the great city itself, the sleek front row appearances are perfectly matched to their shows. Jason Wu drew in the ‘it’ crowd beauties of the likes of Poppy Delvigne, whilst Natilie Portman and Dakota Fanning suited quirky Rodarte. It just makes sense seeing Elizabeth Hurley looking infinitely glossy at the Moncler ice rink, and you can practically see each dress coming down Zac Posen’s runway looking fabulous on Dita Von Teese.
London may not yet have attained a position at the top of the fashion week hotlist (it would take an awful lot to snatch Paris’ or Milan’s crowns) but this year the message was clear – it was all about the fun modern/retro mix. Where else but ever eccentric London does fashion’s first lady, Alexa Chung (the newly appointed British Fashion Council’s Young Style Ambassador) rub shoulders with the country’s first lady, Samantha Cameron. Love or hate her husband’s politics, SamCam earnt her fashion stripes appearing, Front Row, at Erdem and Christopher Kane. There was intense excitement surrounding Pam Hogg’s return to fashion, with Janice Dickenson, Jo Wood and Nick Rhodes (of Duran Duran) showing the likes of Alexandra Burke how it is done. Front Row surprise goes to Kanye West’s swift and secretive arrival at Mark Fast.
The tone of Milan Fashion Week was far more serious by comparison. Gucci’s front row line up was a clear indicator of where the smart money’s at, with guests including Vannessa Friedman (of the Financial Times), Natilie Massenet (founder of Net-a-Porter) and Russian Vogue. Fendi saw not only the inimitable Alexandra Shulman, but also Chairman of Condáé Nast International, Jonathan Newhouse. The two Anna’s, Wintour and Della Russo, were true to form at Versace in fur and far-out fashion respectively. Christopher Kane was also in attendance, presumably basking in the glory of having actually pre-empted several Italian fashion houses by using a purple-carpeted runway for his show. Dolce and Gabbanna had Helen Mirran on their front row, frosting them with some English class. Whereas show attendees in London had been clad of eye-popping neon, clashing prints and stand-out accessories, Milan was a sea of sleek and glossy furs and über-tans. This was clearly where the serious fashion cash was at.
Of course, you should never judge a show by the front row, but it is an interesting barometer of this vibrant and competitive industry. With Paris Fashion Week kicking off this week, keep a perfectly smoky eye on the front row and you never know whom you might see.