November 17, 2011

Evolution of the Fashion Runways: Before They Were Famous

Yesterday, The Fashion Institute of Technology - [aka FIT, as we - the regulars - call it] - held the event: Evolution of the Fashion Runways: A Photographer’s Viewpoint ~ Maria Chandoha Valentino.

A fashion runway photographer - one of the veterans in this business - Maria Chandoha Valentino, came to share and discuss her career that has spanned more than two decades. From an insider’s perspective, she talked about her experiences shooting runway shows in the top fashion capitals of the world, and how both the fashion and photography industries have dramatically changed over the years.

I was very reluctant to go to this event. I thought it'd be just 'another' lecture of "bla, bla, bla me, bla, bla, bla I'm doing these awesome things...", expecting just to get a few good points in regards to fashion runaways and then leave and go about my business...But, not only I ended up staying through the whole event, but I actually had quite a few questions to ask Ms. Valentino after her presentation...

One of the first fashion runaway photographers - [a veteran, and a very lovely, sweet, nice woman - I must add} - Maria Chandoha Valentino.
And to your joy, since your sorry asses were not in the audience - [especially the ones I've invited to come with me] - I did film every word Maria said, every shot she showed and... I got all my questions answered...





This event was part of F.I.T. lectures, which I try not to miss, so I made sure I'm on their mailing list - [permanently!]. So, besides the photos I've never seen before - [because in the 1980s I wasn't in the age to not only see the fashion magazines, but we didn't even have those magazines in my motherland...] - her vibrant personal stories about how the fashion industry unfolded and who and what were 'IT' in the 1908s-1990s, and who were not...Including all the real life stories about designers and their muses, the fashion magazine editors and conditions of the runaway shows, etc... - her presentation made it a very educational event, especially for the ones like me who have been covering the fashion weeks in NYC and DC.

So, here are a few things that I've learned at this presentation - [among many others that I wouldn't be able to put all in one text]:

1. Digital cameras were a blessing to fashion photographers, whose turnaround time of developing a film after each runaway show took days before the digital age...but magazines still waited patiently for the images that were then seen by the rest of the world weeks after the shows happened.


2. There is no IDEAL camera, each photographer chooses for him/herself. There's a constant battle between Nikon and Canon users, which one is best? It's all about personal preference, no set-and-stone rules...


3. Photographers had the worst conditions to work with at the first runaway shows, because there was little space available for them at all, they were all crammed in one corner with their NON-digital cameras and bad lighting...


4. Iman was one of the most demanded top-models in the world in the 1980s, and she was the first one to get a 'boob-job' in the industry where any kind of 'forms' were not welcomed - the models should have been angular, very thin, no butts and breasts...But Cindy Crawford proved them all wrong later...


5. Before the 1980s, runaways did not exist! The up and coming designers had to exhibit their works in warehouses, restaurants, private homes, etc...First runaways came around in Paris, then it took off in NYC and London.






6. The very first ever designer from Asia to ever do a runaway in Paris - [or, rather, was allowed to do a runaway] - when only the locals were doing runaways - was Yohji Yamamoto - in 1981. His collection blowed everyone away. He was the FIRST one to introduce flat shoes to the runaway. Ever since, even up to this moment - his runaway models wear only flats.


7. But he always did extraordinary hats - his signature up to this day...


8. Chanel 'fashion house' did not exist before Karl Lagerfeld took over and introduced the very FIRST clothes/accessories/shoe collection under the brand Chanel. Before Karl, Chanel was only a perfume brand.


9. The fieriest of them all PR Manager in the fashion industry has been always the PR Manager for Jean Paul Gaultier. Everyone was afraid of him, and only a selected number of photographers and press members were ever invited to Gaultier's runaway shows.


10. Gaultier was the first one ever to experiment with men's skirts (he was the first one to introduce those to the fashion industry) and bras/corsets.


10. Back in the days, in the 80s, none of the designers had money to do runaway shows, so they relied on advertising and included those sponsors in the show, like John Galliano's collection in the 1980s, when a car was parked on stage - one of the sponsors...

And of course, I just had to ask Ms. Valentino for an advice on what camera I should get, and she recommended Nikon D7000 - [I told her I'm camera shopping] - but Canons are good too, she added, which didn't make it any easier for me again...

Of course I could go on and on with what I've learned at the presentation, but perhaps you could watch a few of the videos I took. Not the best quality, but...it serves the purpose.

And last, but not the least, when I asked Maria, what current designer is making a splash in the fashion industry right now and keeps surprising everyone on the runaways, she didn't even think twice when she said - Manish Arora. She said that he is the designer to watch out for, and whose shows are capturing the attention of the best from the best in the fashion industry. Arora lives in Paris, but originally he is from India...Have you heard of him? I haven't!


More videos to come, so please check in with Cherchez Le Style YouTube channel in the next few days! Would love to hear what you think and/or your comments in regards of what you'd like to see and know. Love ya all, and wishing you all a wonderful weekend...As for me, Versace for H&M is calling my day tomorrow! Be there, or be square...


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