The year was 2000.
Marc Jacobs ushers into a hotel ballroom in a lavish and comical costume. Naomi Campbell and Karen Elson laugh and applaud while Lil Kim and Victoria Beckham take pictures. There are princesses from all over the world tipsy on $600 champagne.
This was how the royal committee of fashion celebrated.
Then came a steady stream of events in world and pop culture that shifted the entire playing field. September 11th rocked the world, as did the financial battle that followed and devastated the luxury industry.
The socialite became a joke. Celebrities began to develop successful fashion brands of their own and stopped relying so much on their relationships with designers.
And then of course, came the death of Alexander McQueen—a scary reminder that too much can really be too much.
Too much fame, too much responsibility and maybe at the end of the day, too much attention.
Today, more and more designers are relying on their work ethic to define themselves in the industry.
Just as it is considered tawdry for respected artists to party with celebrities, today’s designers are focusing less on entertaining the masses and more on building strong companies.
If designers like the Mulleavy sisters of Rodarte and Jack and Lazaro of Proenza Schouler existed in the 90’s, they would have been pop stars hosting lavish champagne soaked soirees and having sleepovers with Parisian socialites.
Instead, they are business maestros.
So does that mean that we can’t expect the industry to be “fun” anymore?
Has it all become real all of sudden?
Real clothing for real people made by real companies?
It’s a frightening thought, but far from the truth.
We are still living in a very “play” intensive luxury industry, maybe only serious in contrast to the party days of yesteryear.
Maybe the disgrace of John Galliano, and the part that excess played in his downfall, shows us that we need to tone it down a bit.
Perhaps the champagne slightly clouded our vision for a moment.
These days, we should be grateful that we have so much new genius in the industry—talent that can keep things exciting, but whose focus is on making iconic clothes and not the frivolity of the next big party.