Nevermind the snowstorm, your boss, or the airport; You’re on your way to New York Fashion Week. In fact, you’re already there. Or rather, veteran Style Counselor and Butter London mastermind Nonie Creme is, along with Seattle’s leading trend forecaster, Shannon Kelly of In Your Head. And they’ve invited you—via Wear What When—to be in their back pocket.
The former is, of course, overseeing three-free lacquer applications and working out color theories with some of today’s most exciting designers, and the latter is directing all things social- and media-oriented. Starting tomorrow and continuing into next week, they’re taking you behind the scenes with videos (half-dressed models, stressed-out stage managers, next fall’s most important silhouettes being tossed over shoulders), interviews, and more.
The premiere you-are-there virtual backstage pass goes out tomorrow, Friday Feb. 12. If Vena Cava’s fall looks are as paint-splattered, sludgey/sexy, and wearable as their spring stuff is, it ought to be quite the video. Tune in tomorrow!
And: follow me on Twitter for of-the-moment pics and notes.
But first, a chat with Creme and Kelly about what all of this — social media for the runway, back stage videos, live streaming shows, bloggers in the front row — means for color, for Seattle, and for fashion.
Wear What When: Nonie, tell us about the collaboration process with the designers.
Nonie Creme: A few days before each show, there is a meeting called the “test”. It’s when the designer meets with the senior hair stylist, make up artist, and nail technician to discuss the look for the catwalk. A fit model is present to try on the collection for us, and the designer talks us through his/her inspiration and thoughts about who his woman is that season. It’s an incredible thing to be a part of, and a huge honor to be invited to the test meeting. At that time, I might sneak off and custom mix a palette to show the team and designer, and eventually we arrive at a final look for the show. It can take HOURS! After everything is decided, I race back to my hotel and get mixing!!
WWW How many nail techs do you bring with you for something like this? And how soon before runway time are the nails being done? One just imagines the Butter London station as the most hazardous thing in the world this side of a bucket of paint. Tell us about how it all comes together.
Nonie: This season my team will consist of nine technicians, including myself. There are definitely times when the nail colour changes at the last second. It’s terrifying! I keep a stash of empty bottles with me for last minute custom mixes, but pray that we switch to a stock Butter London colour! The nail team works simultaneously with hair and makeup, so we are usually found crawling around under the table, desperately trying to stay out of the way of sharp stilettos, flying iPhones, and film crews scrambling to interview the top models.
WWW: How does the experience ‘color’ (sorry!) your vision in terms of your next season … is this a highly creative time for you?
Nonie: Absolutely. The shows directly influence what I create for Butter London each season. I wait until shows in London, Paris, and Milan are done so that I can review all the shows that inspire me, and then I contemplate key trends, colour palettes, and general mood. After that I think about how to marry all those things to nails and nail colour in a way that ensures our customers are truly getting what’s in fashion.
WWW: Can’t wait to see what takes shape. Shannon! Let’s talk networks. What’s your take on the bloggers-in-the-front-row thing? Just a trend? For designers and their press agents, is it desperate or just good business?
Shannon: Personally, I’m a fan of any form of media that gets consumers excited about fashion—from daily bloggers to seasoned editors. While I understand the concern about true editorial reporting, there is something familiar with the questions around who should hold clout within the fashion community… It wasn’t that long ago that food bloggers came across similar scrutiny among the gastronomical elite.
As information overload exhausts the average person, bloggers, brands and traditional media need to collaborate to wield influence. And cultivating new talent may ruffle feathers but it also might nurture a new generation. Today, the front row is THE place for evolution and ultimately innovation— I’m excited to see what kind of response we get from our behind-the-scenes backstage daily diary for Butter London.
WWW: What is fashion currently not doing in terms of new or now media that they should be doing?
Shannon: The biggest gap for fashion in terms of “now” media is the ability to adjust campaigns or strategies ever so slightly based on the anthropology gained from social media. Due to the gigantic investment of most fashion campaigns, brands rarely are able to use insights gained from social media in "real-time" and valuable content about brand awareness or sentiment is not immediate. There may never be a silver bullet for unlocking consumer culture or label loyalty but by listening and responding to online conversations, brands can better understand where fashion will go.
WWW: Who’s your pick for Designer Making the Best/Most Use of Current Media Trends?
Shannon: Burberry and Chanel have put some interesting things out but Dolce & Gabbana have really embraced avante-garde technology and are looking to push the limits. The presence of bloggers at D&G in Milan for S/S 2010 was a defining moment for fashion and just last week Stefano Gabbana “let his inner Fellini come out” by directing a raw YouTube video from the set of the brand’s S/S 10 men’s campaign. I think that Stefano Gabbana told WWD that he wanted to create his own social network. They really understand the opportunity and tailor appropriate messaging that adds an extra dimension to the brand regardless of if you are a loyalist or an occasional shopper.