Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Model Christmas


Christmas for the children (Liz Lee, Anna Bayle, Lulu, Dianne Dewitt and the children of the orphanage)

It is Christmas time and all is quiet where fashion is concerned. European designers are gearing up for their couture collections in January and the New York designers are preparing for the ready-to-wear shows in February (In my time, New York collections came after the European collections in March. The fashion calendar has since changed.) Still, there is a lot of work to do for seasoned models. There is catalogue work and trunk shows for designers in big department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorfs in New York.

For popular models, there are really no long holidays. They have to deliberately book out and tell their agencies that they are not accepting work for a set period of time. Models have to take their vacations when they feel they are not missing a lot of important work or considerable revenue.

CHRISTMAS in TOKYO

Plastic cups with champagne line the runway, Tokyo
One of the most memorable Christmas moments for me was in Tokyo, while I was working for the Big 4. Hanae Mori invites 4 international designers for a week of shows in December. There are intensive dress rehearsals and 3 shows in a day to accommodate all the viewers.

I remember being there for a week-long trip falling on my birthday, December 6. My 'then' boyfriend had already taken the week off so we could fly off to some vacation spot and have a break. However, my agent in Paris called me for the Big 4 which was with some designers who I work with all the time. The lineup that year was: Lacroix, Moschino, Vivienne Westwood, and Hanae Mori. I felt really bad changing the plans I made with my 'then' partner but it was a substantial sum of money for a week’s work. Since modeling is like a consulting business (where you never know when you will be booked for the desirable jobs), it is better to take them when they are offered to you.

During my time, a model’s lifespan was about 2 to 3 years. As Heidi Klum would say, "One moment, you are in, then the next moment, you are out." I have been very lucky to have worked such a long time, actually, almost 25 years. One of the reasons for my longevity is because I never said no to work.

So there I was in Japan, completely jetlagged and all alone on my birthday. At 5:00 a.m., I was wide awake and feeling really displaced and lonely in my hotel room. At 6:00 a.m., when it was light outside, I decided to walk around the empty streets of Omotesando in search of a wine shop. With no family... nor friends for a birthday party in Tokyo, the least I could have on my birthday was champagne. I found a store that I went back to during a show break.
Before the last show, I opened the bottles and passed plastic cups to the girls who were around me in the dressing room. I did not mention that it was my birthday but we had a small toast. It was comforting to share a drink with my fellow fashion soldiers, other models who did the whole circuit (Milan, London, Paris, New York, Tokyo). Tokyo is the last leg before the holidays and the frenetic activity and energy during the collections is winding down. Soon, we will be home.

Big 4 Christmas party for crew
On the last day of the BIG 4, there was a party for the whole crew, including models and designers, given by the producer of the fashion shows, Kohei Katsura. Coming from backstage, we saw to our surprise, both sides of the entire length of the runway were lined up with white plastic cups filled with champagne. The audio system for the show was playing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. The song brought near tears to my eyes and I am sure it affected the other models, as well. We have been away from home too long.
It is always a welcome moment when people in fashion kick back and relax. And if only for that moment, we remembered we are all alike (no divas, no goddesses, no catwalk queens)- just normal people sharing a tradition.

CHRISTMAS in PARIS

Personalized Dior Christmas scarfs from Monsieur Marc Bohan
When I was working at Dior, we also had our holiday toasts but I always loved receiving the personalized Christmas gift from Monsieur Marc Bohan. The whole atelier and probably, the whole house was given a different Dior scarf each year. Another tradition was the celebration of Three Kings Day on Jan 6, where we ate these special cakes decorated with gold crowns.

CHRISTMAS in NEW YORK

Dinner at Oscar's house in Santo Domingo (Diane Dewitt, Anna Bayle, Shaun and Oscar dela Renta's friends)

When I moved to New York, one of the Christmas traditions that I looked forward to was Oscar dela Renta’s Christmas trip to Santo Domingo. Jack Alexander, a former male model who handled the booking of the models would invite us to Casa de Campo, the hotel that is part-owned and designed by Oscar. Every year, we did a charity fashion show in an open air venue for the orphanage that Oscar de la Renta founded in his hometown. Oscar even adopted Moises de la Renta, a boy from the orphanage. Moises was probably 4 or 5 years old then. He is now working with Oscar, designing his collections.

Though we were allowed to bring our boyfriends, husbands, children, etc., I never availed of it. But most of the girls did and it was a family affair. It was good to meet the family and friends of the other models that we work with each and everyday. The models' masks of efficiency and professionalism are off in this different and more relaxed setting. It felt good to be normal and not posturing all the time.

Fun and Laughter
We were completely spoiled by Oscar; we each had our designated rooms and were free to use the facilities of Casa de Campo, a vacation resort. We would go horseback riding, golfing, drink pina coladas and lounge by the pool and we were provided with mopeds to explore the whole resort. Gallivanting in the compound and out in scenic spots of nearby towns with the other models was always fun.

We’d be invited to lunch or dinner at Oscar’s house by the sea or the houses of his friends in Punta Cana and it was always merry and filled with laughter. We would pile into the minibus and arrive at Oscar’s, where we are serenaded by the Dominican equivalent of a mariachi band. The romantic music, in keeping with the exotic setting of flower filled gardens and balmy, breezy weather puts all of us in a very relaxed mode.

The generosity and hospitality of Oscar dela Renta is unmatched. Oscar dela Renta is a ‘giver’; he is one who would gallantly share his good fortune, in a very unassuming way. You could say that Mr. dela Renta nature is characteristic of Latin people, but I know otherwise. Mr. dela Renta is a very special person and it is an honor for me, as a model, to know this man.

During dinner, there is a lot of laughter and teasing as Oscar is quite mischievous. For instance, he would ask me who my boyfriend was. I would reply. Then Oscar, pretending to know the person, jokingly would say, “He will take you to the cleaners”. He charms all of us with his sense of humor and once in a while he would sing. I loved it when he sang, as Oscar is a handsome and seductive balladeer. Sometimes, his friend, Julio Iglesias would sing for us, as well. During one Christmas trip to Puerto Rico, we were all in a dinner table with the King of Spain.

After dinner, we would all pile back into the minibus, Oscar and his friends included, and we would go to some local club and dance the merenge. The gentlemanly husbands of his friends were kind enough to teach us the dance, while the wives applauded and urged us on. There was always a good time for everyone involved.

We were free to stay for a day or a week. I would cancel other paying jobs to do this show. Sometimes I would just fly in and fly out after the show. It was my ‘Christmas sharing thing’. I felt very good each time I did this show, knowing that it would make a lot of children happy. After all, what is Christmas for, but for the children.

BEAUTY IS A BUSINESS
There is really no rest for models. It is a brief respite. For immediately after Christmas day, the thought of the couture collections loom ahead. After partaking of our traditional Christmas delicacies with our families and loved ones and drinking excessively in celebration of the holidays, the scale awaits.
In less than a month, one has to be in top form. THINK THIN was pasted over my refrigerator door. (Qualifier: Think thin is not to be equated with Look sickly.) There is no time to waste; those extra pounds gained during the holidays must be shed. After all, beauty is a business.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Power Of Two


Working with IMAN, Thierry Mugler Fashion Show

I posted a comment to my article, Too Much Information, from a certain Juan Miguel. He replied, stating that he is thrilled and he would never have imagined that I would highlight his opinions and include them in my blog (Van Gogh Ran through A Xerox Machine). Juan Miguel's post resonated with my message, rounding off and completing my argument. Though his letter had a different flavor, his editorial voice is congruent to mine. By sharing it with the readers, I hoped that it would facilitate further understanding of what I was trying to say.

I have always believed that it is stronger or much more powerful when there are two. I came to fully understand the 'power of two' concept from working with the other models. And, it is not only in modeling that the power of collaboration will apply, but every facet of our everyday lives. If we have the same goals, let's work together...not against each other.

COMPETITION ON THE RUNWAY
Walking solo down a European runway is a feat that requires presence, projection and courage. For a good minute, you are alone on an 80-to-100 feet runway and all eyes are on you. You muster up all the energy that is inside you, keep it whole (as opposed to scattered energy), and walk out like a queen. Not all models can do this; that is why there are ‘catwalk divas’.

In the runway, some girls just go about being a diva in the wrong way. They try to upstage another girl on the catwalk, to their detriment. I find that this never works because the audience is not fooled; they see the negative energy of models whose only intent is to put themselves forward without regard or respect for the other models on the catwalk.

I remember walking down a Chloe show and here comes a very famous model swinging a shoulder bag, twirling it around like a baton, on her right side. Upon passing her, she hits me by accident (There are no accidents, according to Freud) and the next model behind her, a beautiful brunette named Antonia, sees the whole incident. When Antonia comes off of the runway, she is livid and tells everyone what this famous model did to me and swears to me that she will hit that model or push her offstage, the next time she ever gets on stage with her.

The really devious models just stand in front of you when you are already posed, just to get the center spot or to get noticed. What they do not realize is that the audience sees everything. The audience senses models’ attitudes and demeanors onstage and they are turned off by these shameless and sly moves.

Most designers are explicit on how we should go down the runway. "There are 3 of you together. Anna, you are in the middle." An unscrupulous model will always find a way to change things around. Even though we are posed in triangle and suppose to move down together in a triangle on my cue, some jumpy ones will move before me and jockey for the central position. I try not to get fazed by these guileful actions. When I am working, I am always thinking of the big picture. It always has to be a good balanced picture for the audience, the videographers and photographers. As models, our sole purpose is to show the clothes. The clothes won’t be seen to their best advantage if you have one model on top of the other, vying for center stage.

What do I do? I even it out; I go to the other spot that the girl has vacated so the flow of the show does not get disturbed. My instinctive choices turn out for the better because in the long run, I gain the respect of the designer, the photographers and the audience.
It is called professionalism. I might be a catwalk diva but this is the designer’s show. Not mine. I cannot put my interests above the designers'.
Anyway, I believe if you are really good, it does not matter where you are placed. The eye will go instinctively to the strongest presence or the most beautiful.

When a model tries this trick once too often, I have to give them the signal not to do it ever again. So when I am sure it will not disrupt anything (For instance, when we are out of the range of the video cameras and there is already another group of girls at the bottom of the runway getting the limelight), I give the errant model a taste of her own medicine. I blatantly stand in front of the said model, in the fiercest pose I can conjure, just before exiting backstage. The audience and photographers closest to where we are standing are smiling and winking at me - intimating that I am correct in setting the boundaries. I just wink back with a naughty smile on my face. There are ethics on the catwalk and sometimes you have to draw the lines for some impudent models.

THE POWER OF TWO
Sometimes, it works in your favor not to be threatened by the other divas but to work with them. If you have a strong presence and you work with another strong presence, the result is really powerful and beautiful. When diva meets another diva, an explosive mixture in itself, there are times when it is not ‘one-upmanship’ that ensues, but glorious fireworks.

At a Mugler press show, we had these gold lame siren dresses and we had a cornucopia of accessories on (heavy earrings, tiaras, bracelets, wigs) that could fall any minute. And to make things more precarious, we had gold platform shoes with laces tied across the length of our lower legs up to our knees. I opened the scene and Iman was to close the scene. We had to walk very slow as the clothes were very tight and the 4-inch platform shoes with laces were very difficult to walk in.
I am walking back as Iman is coming down the runway and I observed that one of her shoe laces has come undone. She would have to drag the one shoe held only by her toes, with the long laces getting in her way and possibly tripping her. She still manages to walk down but I could sense her difficulty. Iman, whose style is to walk very slow and contained, was in a hurry to get this number over with. I decided to wait for her midway, so at least I can support her if she falls. When she got to where I was waiting for her, I extended my arm to help her, but still in character. We walk back slowly, like 2 princesses, but then Iman stops, faces me, moves awfully close to me, shoves her right leg through my legs and uses my body to support her. She proceeds to bend as far back as she can like the petal of a flower opening. I immediately got her drift and proceeded to bend slightly back, not all the way like she did - just enough, so we did look like a flower. The room exploded with thunderous applause and from everywhere the shouts of “Brava! Brava!”. Everyone was calling both our names and the flashbulbs went wild when we were on this pose, for this surely would make a great photograph.

From then on, whenever I am in a group with Iman, and we have to go down in pairs, Iman would say, "I am walking with Anna Bayle." Iman knows I am not there to upstage her. She knows that I would work with her.

HEALTHY COMPETITION and MUTUAL RESPECT
With great models, you will find that there is always competition, but I will sincerely say that I would not have been the model that I was, if not for some models that others perceived to be my competitors.


Synchronicity with DALMA
Oscar dela Renta Fashion Show

In healthy competition, everyone strives to be better. Each competitor raising the bar and it pushes everyone to do well. You feed off each other’s talent and in the end, everyone wins.

I don’t think I would have pushed myself as much, if not for the great Dalma - the beautiful Brazilian model who always conducted herself with elegance and dignity. When I started to work in New York, we would find our racks always close to each other. In the line up, we were always beside each other. Even though we have different builds and different styles, we are able to work together in healthy competition.

Dalma had a fast and energetic walk. I have a walk that was particular but I could speed it up or slow it down depending on what was asked of me. Despite our difference in walking styles, we were often asked to walk together. But when we did, it was completely synchronized; it was as if we were joined at the hip. We worked off each other,.... never against.
It seemed that we were always 'in tune' with each other; our movements are together and precise. There are no hesitations. Whenever we walked out on the runway, it is ‘boom..boom..boom’ and we are out of the stage in seconds, delivering a powerful impact. We always get the applause. It is for that reason, we are always booked together and we do the same shows.

People think of us as competitors but in reality, we have mutual respect for each other. Over the years, Dalma has given me solid advice and hopefully I have been a friend to her, as well.
Sometimes, Dalma would get a dress too big for her frame. It is the same exact gown as I would get, but her's is strapless while mine had spaghetti straps. Since I had a bigger chest frame (not necessarily bigger bust), my body could hold a strapless garment but it would surely fall on her while she was walking. Dalma would ask to exchange dresses and I would agree immediately. We would not bother telling the design team anymore. When they called Dalma, I went forward and when they would call Anna, she would stand in my place on the line up. That way, the designer would still have the right sequential appearance of the garments in the fashion show.

A very powerful publisher, trying to plant seeds of intrigue, once said to me,“ I don’t know who spins better - you or Dalma.” I replied, “I am sure we are both just doing our jobs to the best of our ability.”

Lately, I have been doing research for my TV show and I have been watching these model searches. I see the models competing with one another, each entrant badmouthing the next. It is deplorable and not how it should be. During my time, there was a lot of camaraderie. Maybe that is the reason we enjoyed working together, despite our competitive natures.

The funny thing about conflict is that we should not really fight things or people we encounter, but go with it. We should use another person’s strong energy to make us stronger and make it work. The result of collaborating is not only double. Sometimes with great elements and the right chemistry, we can make gold.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

VAN GOGH Ran Through A Xerox Machine (Letter to Anna)


Starry Night, VAN GOGH

I received this letter about my article, Too Much Information. It is a good read from Juan Miguel, someone who knows his fashion history.

what is the most interesting, inspiring fashion? the answer to that question is greatly subjective because there are varying levels of taste which naturally stem from varying levels of interest and sophistication. there is always bad taste as there is always good taste (now THAT is purely subjective). agreement will never be quite unanimous. especially in this day and age when women wear short skirts one day and long ones the next, pegged pants yesterday, palazzos today, and clam diggers tomorrow! truly, never has there been a time of such un-uniformity, of such sartorial freedom. fashion has become so very varied AND so very fickle. whatever is a girl to do?

...i guess the challenge for any designer nowadays is to create work that is SIGNIFICANT to current lifestyles, trains of thought, activity, and sensibility. each designer has an
interpretation of all these things and the one whose work resonates most effectively is the one who is celebrated. mary quant and the youthquake of the sixties, dvf and ysl and halston and bra-burning in the seventies, mugler's and
montana's shoulders coupled with calvin klein's easy american style as women marched into the workplace in solid power-assertion of the 80's, armani's sobering minimalism againts versace's flamboyance and tom ford's sexy gucci amid the personality and image and sex obsessed, dichotomous nineties, marc jacobs' luxury cyber-youth granny chic spin hand-in-hand with the vintage-pre-occupation and dollar signs of the early 2000's... blah blah blah...

fashion has become very mainstream because people see it more. there are so many magazines, there's style.com, project runway, the ubiquitous red carpet, on and on. it's like a van gogh ran through a xerox machine and you end up with 10000 copies. there doesn't seem to be anything special about fashion anymore. maybe this is why they say haute couture is dead because everything is truly now for the masses. but i think it's not quite dead yet because we still see some of it around, thank God!

an inny-inny-tiny fraction of the world buys haute couture but it has always been the playground of the true designer. of course lesser mortals scoff at couture offerings but you and i know it's only because they simply do not understand (funny how they finally "get it" five years down the line; they always do or at least one would hope). however, i don't blame them because a lot of the stuff is truly pretty far out and it hits you right in the face when you first see 'em. but if only people could see couture for the "idea," you know...

couture is an art form. beyond intelligence and creativity, haute couture is for the brave. not only does it take true talent to come up with something new, innovative, unique and beautiful, it takes guts - to do it, to show it, to celebrate it, and ultimately, to share it. some people say that couture is insignificant but i beg to disagree. if there were no couture, we all might as well be wearing potato sacks everywhere, everyday, forever and ever. most people don't realize (especially before miranda priestly's wonderful monologue; some of you readers understand what i'm saying here) that what we wear now evolved from an ensemble sashaying down a designers runway eleventeen hundred years ago. you know what miranda means?

personally, i do not care what the critics say, particularly those insipid so-called "style gurus" on tv who in their self-aggrandizing and uncreative cataract perceptions are kings and queens of mediocrity. i'd like to see chalayan make more robot dresses, and more armor from galiano (i love the new stuff he did!; that armor is the new montana shoulder pad! talk about the empowerment of women!).

i want my heart to beat fast. i want to get excited. designers who are intelligent and brave do it for me because they have vision and oh how inspired they are...

cheers anna and take care...

juan miguel
4:22 AM

Friday, December 08, 2006

Modeling Is Not A Sickness...Anorexia Is

There is an article today in the Fashion section of New York Times by Eric Wilson, about what Paris, Italy and the New York fashion industry is doing about the issue of models’ weight. With the recent deaths of 2 models with eating disorders, there has been focus on this problem of models being too thin.

I must reiterate. Modeling is not a sickness – anorexia is. (From my article, To Eat or Not To Eat: Pain or Pleasure, Nov 19, 2006)

In my day - in Paris, Milan, Rome, New York and Tokyo – we were fed, ...and fed very well. I have no reason to believe that this practice has changed.
Sometimes, the food backstage was even better than the food I could have at home. In Paris, the table spread backstage, complete with uniformed waiters and linen napkins, can sometimes approach what a 5-star restaurant would serve. Provision of good food for everyone involved backstage, was the norm.

In Paris, Rome and Milan, no matter how early in the morning, there is always freshly squeezed orange juice, milk, water, coffee, tea and champagne served. Croissants, smoked salmon, petite finger sandwiches and bite-sized pastries from Laduree or Sant’Ambrose fill the food table. Make no mistake......in these cities, we were spoiled rotten by the designers.

COLLECTION TIME
Press shows in Paris were big long affairs. A model was asked to report 3 to 5 hours before the show because of the intricate hair and make-up per individual show. There were days when I had 7 or 8 press shows in one day, and I know it is going to be a long, ‘work like a dog’ kind of day. During this crazy 2 weeks of shows, I would sometimes be fitting till 1:00 a.m. and have to be in the tents, six hours after, by 7:00 a.m. the same day. I have to partake of what the design houses were offering backstage because there is simply no time to eat before leaving home nor was there time to leave the Cour Carree du Louvre to sit down for lunch in a restaurant.

I would jump from tent to tent (of the shows I was involved in) and check out what was good to eat. I remember Saturdays in Paris; one of the big days because you have such heavy hitters like Montana, Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Issey Miyake, etc. in the line-up.
Being Asian, even though I still had shows to do before the Issey Miyake show, I would always go to Issey's tent where there was Western food and Asian food. I would go there because they had bento boxes for the models and all the dressers. The Issey Miyake production crew was very accommodating and I, of course, would choose what the Japanese dressers were eating – rice and fish. Out of kindness, my Japanese dresser would even offer me her bento box. All those years, the Miyake people knew I 'ate and ran' only to be back after 2 hours to finally do their show.
The question was never "Where will I get food to eat?" You can pace yourself and the likely question you are going to ask yourself is, "At what show will I eat?".

In New York, where the bookings are by the hour (as opposed to bookings by the show), the fashion houses make sure that models are comfortable; assistants of press agents or assistant designers run around offering us something to drink and eat, the moment we arrive.

LA DOLCE VITA
As for putting the blame on agents, I must say all my reputable agents (Elite, Diva, Cosa Nostra, Why Not, Agence Presse), made it a point to feed us well - especially in Italy. When we are done with our shows, our agents would picked us up in SUV’s and vans, to cart the models to a restaurant where we will be seated in a long table of 20 to 30 girls. We would eat full meals – antipasti, pasta, main course, dessert, wine, after dinner drinks. Sometimes there were 2 different agencies in one popular restaurant. Models were allowed to invite their girlfriends, even though they were with competing agencies. Our agents were only too happy to oblige.
My agent in Paris, Jean Louis Dumas of Diva, who was more a manager for select girls, would take me to dinner after the shows and even take me to jazz clubs and places with music, if my schedule would allow it – just to get our minds off the fashion shows.

The Europeans who pride themselves on a good quality of life, would never sacrifice the pleasure of eating. The good design houses and the reputable modeling agencies treated models very well and this means they fed you very well.

In New York, where we were sometimes booked for the day, the girls would leave during lunch and go to good restaurants in the area, even if food was provided for us backstage. Models eat. Some of us could eat a lot. Or, we would go to this small place besides Parsons and order carrot smoothies. Really, no one is twisting anyone’s arm not to eat.

THE BEAUTY BUSINESS
There is really no excuse for getting sick. Perhaps, the only excuse models can have for not eating or providing themselves with the necessary energy requirements to get through a hectic and adrenalin-filled day, is low self esteem.

We cannot fault the organizers of the fashion press shows nor the designers, for the bad press. Models have always been thin. However, beauty was never equated with being the thinnest. Beauty was equated with being en forme. There is a big difference. Too thin looks sickly. En forme (in form) means –just right.

It is absolutely true that a long silhouette looks better for the clothes. It is true that when the clothes hang on a model, one can fully appreciate the elegant lines that the designer has created. It is true that the thinner you are, as a model, the better. However, sickly does not cut it; it becomes unattractive. I think models should understand that they are in the beauty business. Emaciated, skeletal, cadaverous - does not make them beautiful. It is the elegance, the energy, their ‘projected’ well being – that makes them beautiful.

In my article, To Eat or Not To Eat - I confessed to the mistakes or wrong choices I made when I was young, but I never blamed anyone but myself.

There is no reason to ban models and make it a press grabbing campaign. Just don't book the sickly looking models...they'll get the idea and hopefully will get their acts together.
There is no reason to weigh models and make it a requirement. If the fashion industry does this, a precedent will be set in place. What would be the next step? Ban models who use drugs?

This is not the Olympics, nor is it a lightweight or featherweight boxing match. After all, it is only Fashion,.... it it not something to die for.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Too Much Information


Dovima with Elephants by AVEDON, 1955

Information is power….....but....information in the wrong hands is disastrous. Also, wrong information in powerful hands, is equally disastrous.

An interesting comment was made in reference to my last article, Where have all the models gone?, about real models being a myth, to someone of the younger generation. My response to that comment is a statement I heard from Bernardine Morris, (New York Times and lookonline.com) that really struck a chord in me.

“It is not what’s new that is beautiful….but what is beautiful, that is new.”
The times have indeed changed, for better or worse. However, the classics and the masters will be with us, no matter what. In 50 to 100 years, for instance, the indelible pictures of Avedon will still remind us of the art of Fashion. The art is what I really miss – more than the faces.

For me, whatever reflects the times cannot be denied. It is in the hands of the fashion editors to guide us on what is beautiful. They know the history of fashion and they are well informed as to the chronology of events in contemporary fashion. They are tuned in to the pulse of fashion and use their exacting taste and 'personal style' choices to filter, sift or interpret everything new and feed it to us. They hold the power to educate us.
When present day media takes that power from those 'in the know', because the media holds the numbers, then the art suffers.

QUALITY vs.QUANTITY
In this day and age of google and blogging, ET and emails, Utube - Fashion is strewn all over. Who is to guide us on what is good taste and bad taste? Who will show us who are the innovators and who are the ‘pretenders’? Are we to sacrifice quality for quantity?

In my humble experience, it took 2 to 3 years for fashion to go down to the streets. A garment of a prestigious designer that is hailed by the fashion magazines, will be copied and sold en masse in the department stores (not in the designer’s name), 2 to 3 years after.
A good example of this 'trickle-down effect' is Azzedine Alaia - a creative designer who has been designing body hugging clothes from the very start. His innovative and creative art is picked up by influential fashion editors and is featured in the fashion magazines. He signs a contract with a huge Italian manufacturer to produce his ready-to-wear clothes. His design is copied by other clothing manufacturers and watered down for mass consumption. Three years after, every garment in all the department stores is body hugging. The consumer does not know that it is because of the influence of Azzedine Alaia – they only know the department stores are flooded with it. Sort of, the pyramid effect of fashion. I can only surmise that in this day and age...this process will go a lot faster.

FASHION FROM THE TOP
I am one of those who believe that fashion from the top is an art form. The many artists and creative people in this industry collaborate to come up with something beautiful. (Designers with their ateliers, fashion editors with their stylists and photographers, stylists with make-up artists and hair dressers, photographers with the models, and so on). That is not to mean that street fashion is not creative - some are.

Art, of course, is for everyone - but at it's inception, it still has be discerned by people who know.
We should recognize that the fashion industry is an exclusive industry because it protects the interests of the artists and the many people who work in that industry. To a certain extent, this industry is also elitist; it is for people who understand it – the fashion editors, the stylists, the fashion press, the make-up artists, hairdressers, etc. I believe that to put it in the hands of people who don’t understand will have ramifications.

These days, it is great that Fashion reaches far and wide – that a lot of people see it, first hand. But in the end, if they don’t understand what they see…. that, in fashion lingo, is called a fashion victim.