London Fashion Week: the meaning of fashion week chairs – The Guardian

Fashion watchers will be familiar with the politics of the front row personnel. What it means to host Pixie Geldof catwalk-side, the actual meaning of Paloma Faith and how the whole thing is way more cut-throat than anything witnessed in the corridors of Westminster. But what of the politics of the physical front row? What exactly are the semantics of a spindly chair? What is that concrete bench really signifying? Can you tell if a collection is going to be rubbish as soon as you see the catwalk furniture? Why, of course you can! Here is our guide to the FROW furniture we expect to see at LFW

A cold concrete bench

Or a cold bench on a concrete floor. Given that London Fashion Week is now based in a Soho NCP car park, this scenario is highly likely. The simplicity usually implies that the designer is newish and is relying on some British Fashion Council patronage to make the whole thing work, rather than an uber minimalist who is going hard for the deconstructed look. The gritty undertones of the concrete bench are often undermined by the free tub of hair fudge and the bag of chilli popcorn sitting on each seat next to a press release.

The Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015 show

The Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015 show Photograph: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

A fancy spindly opera chair

These chairs are ten a penny at the Paris shows, but more rare at LFW. With their gold coloured backs and red velvet seats they are a nod to the salon presentations of old and as such are intended to signify an air of refinement around the show. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes there is nothing a spindly chair can do to upgrade an ill fitting bit of chiffon.

A louche sofa

Elizabeth Saltzman and Carine Roitfeld at the Tom Ford Spring Summer 2015 show

Sofas Elizabeth Saltzman and Carine Roitfeld at the Tom Ford Spring Summer 2015 show Photograph: David M. Benett/Getty Images

There’s only one place you expect to see this during LFW and that is at the Tom Ford show. Sofas trump chairs in the weird world of frow furniture power play. The Tom Ford grey sofas which seat two or three editors are meant to signify decadence and intimacy. In reality the sofa is uncomfortable and unflattering (posture and thigh issues, you know). Slobbing about isn’t the desired aesthetic when one is being watched, watching the catwalk. This isn’t Gogglebox.

Tiny fishing chairs

A seen at the Burberry show. Behind the megabrand’s glitzy front row sit rows of mini camping stools with seats the colour of trenchcoats. Contrary to the brand’s image this has nothing to do with Britishness and weather and everything to do with controlling the look on the livestream. Tiny chairs mean no squishing two bums on one seat, no blagging a chair that doesn’t belong to you and consequently a neat looking catwalk audience.

<strong>Fishing chairs</strong> The Burberry Prorsum SS15 men’s show

Fishing chairs The Burberry Prorsum SS15 men’s show Photograph: David M. Benett/David M. Benett

A broken bench

Fingers crossed. There’s no drama quite like the moment when a badly constructed bench collapses under the combined weight of 20 small bottoms. (Yes, a catwalk audience is in reality about as sophisticated as a school assembly.) Most famously this happened at a Balenciaga catwalk in Paris which meant that the whole audience was forced to stand throughout all 7 minutes of the show. Radical.


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