The Ugly Side of Fashion

It started out as one of the most highly anticipated fashion events of the year. Imagine, a whole stretch of Singapore’s busiest shopping street, Orchard Road being turned into a huge, long runway. I bet it’s every model’s dream to be on that runway and if you’re into popular culture, you can bet this defines the arts scene in Singapore in a big way.

Let’s set this up nicely. The runway starts from the junction in front of Ion and ends at the junction at the end of Ngee Ann City. So the models will walk from the start at Ion all the way to the end and head backstage which is located at the end of the runway behind an elevated photo-pit.

Fashion Steps Out Onto Orchard Road 01

Everything was fine at first, the lovely folks from the event’s PR company ushered the media and guests to their seats respectively and we got a pretty good spot as well. The media was actually placed at the end of the runway close to the photo-pit which is ideal especially if you have covered fashion shows before. I’m told by my team’s photographers that at fashion event’s like Audi Fashion Festival and World Runway that we’ve covered, it’s hard to get space in the photo-pit and fair enough because every photographer would want his or her shot.

Fashion Steps Out 2013 however provided a wealth of opportunity, mostly because of the massive size of it’s runway. So with our photographer nicely placed inside the pit together with the other media outlets, I took my seat on the Ngee Ann City side of Orchard Road and eagerly awaited the start of the show. The public however were on the pedestrian sides of the road, behind the barricade so everything was nicely in order.

That was where a flurry of uncultured behavior started. I was shocked to be honest….it was almost as if the media that was there were inexperienced with fashion shows or maybe they were just plain rude. I don’t know really. I started seeing photographers running onto the street trying to capture shots of a performance that was in the middle of the stretch and then running back for more shots. Wait, I thought the PR firm said no running on the runway aka Orchard Road.

Then this huge truck with an led screen on the side drove towards the end of the runway.

The Ugly Side of Fashion

The photographers and some media jumped from their seats and from the photo-pit and planted themselves behind the truck almost blocked a route for the models to walk. In some instances the models had to squeeze past the photographers to complete the rest of the runway because as models that’s their job. They don’t stop posing or walking till they reach backstage which was behind the photo-pit area.

There were maybe 2 or 3 photographers and videographers left in the photo-pit and the whole thing just seemed weird. What the heck was this truck doing there anyway? Well it got me thinking for a bit and I had my theory confirmed later on. Ok, let’s say you’re inexperienced with fashion, I’m sure you’ve at least seen some on TV before. Now the flashes usually go off at the end of the runway so there was absolutely no need for anyone to be running out to get closer to the models or even if it was the fear of not getting their shots.

The Ugly Side of Fashion

I called the PR of the event and they clarified that the truck was meant to park close to the end of the runway and the photographers were supposed to stay in the elevated photo-pit. That’s it! Of course they were, you see models know that the photo-pits are usually at the end of the runway and so they would continue to walk and model until they reach backstage so bingo the entire logistic step up was spot on. So why this mess?

The Ugly Side of Fashion

Effectively what we had were a bunch of panic attack photographers who rushed out thinking they were not going to get good shots.

Who’s to blame here? The organizers? Honestly what could that one guy in charge of media do? He told some of them to back away but well no one seemed to care and at the same time I sympathize because for some of these photographers and videographers, this is their bread and butter. They need their shots so that they can hand it on to whatever magazine or newspaper they’re from. For them they can’t afford to go back and say they didn’t get anything and give this mess as a reason.

It all started with this one guy in a photographer tag and a camera phone dashed onto the middle of the street and sat there. Being typical Singaporeans, we saw, we ran, we followed. It’s a case of the media not trusting the organizers and set up, basically it’s like I mentioned earlier, panic attack media.

When some of the models squeezed through their facial expressions looked pretty irritated even if they tried not to show it, I could see it because I’m trained to read body language so not much escapes me. If anything these international models should be commended. They showed so much professionalism like this model below.

The Ugly Side of Fashion

She knew the runway was not complete until she went back stage and continued to pose even after squeezing through that wall of photographers. We really need to take a good look at ourselves. Is this the standard of so called media we have? Surely we should know better than to run out unless told otherwise by the organizers? It’s kinda dumb if they put the photo-pit there if there was no intention for it to be effective to begin with.

The Ugly Side of Fashion

Even this poor performer wasn’t as noticed as she should have been because we cut the runway short and so she ended up performing behind the media.

And you know, at fashion shows, never step on the runway. In this case Orchard Road was the runway and what a bunch of uncultured people we were, blocking the model’s routes and lying on the street (runway) just to get a shot. These models need to do their job too, some of them flew into Singapore just for this show.

So what if it was the biggest fashion show to hit town this year, we really made a fool of ourselves in our own backyard.

The event by the way was a gorgeous sight and it was hosted in excellent style by the lovely Junita Simon. Fashion certainly stepped out……but so did our ugly side.

Elliott Danker

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