Rock’n’Roll Bride wrote a controversial blog post last week about her experiences at The White Gallery, a trade show that I attended. Kat admitted her post would be controversial before she posted it, and 135 comments (on last view) and many tweets later, she was proved right.
To be honest, her post slightly ruffled me. I’ve mulled for a few days to temper my response a little – in my experience, knee-jerk reactions are never my moments of glory!
So to start with the parts I can appreciate. Kat does have a point about some of the snobbery in the industry. Only here’s the thing – I was reminded by a friend in the industry that if you’re lucky enough to get to the top of your game, everybody starts wanting a piece of you. If you’re a fabulous designer who brides love, you’ll have wedding shops begging you for your gowns. If you’re an editor of a magazine, everybody becomes your best friend because they want you to write about them. And so on. So although it’s brilliant being in demand, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. It becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between the people who like you for being you, and the people who want something that you have the power to give them. So when I meet successful people in the industry who are a bit distant, I have to remind myself that pretty nearly everybody new they meet wants something from them, and that that can get tough.
Designers mainly exhibit at bridal shows to get stockists; and if I step on to a stand when designers are busy selling gowns, I can’t expect them to drop everything and come talk to me. But yet, some of them do, and I’m humbled by that. Some of them – even though they are highly successful and busy and can’t really afford to take the time out – still do. Because they’re nice people.
That’s not to say I haven’t been on the receiving end of snobbery. I’ve been snubbed, and had the blank/suspicious looks and the “what’s a blog?” responses (there are still an astonishing amount of people living under a rock). I’m just surprised I’ve not been snubbed more often – this is the posh end of the fashion industry, and I’m not really the fashionable type. Generally speaking, my experiences of the industry have been very good, even in the early days when my blog was new and unestablished.
That’s a bit of background thought on Kat’s post. On to the main event:
“So let me get one thing straight, I did get to chat to some lovely people yesterday – the girls from various wedding magazines mainly and a select group of amazing designers who were, interestingly, mainly the new kids on the bridal block. These were the kinds of people that were actually genuinely interested in me and my blog and didn’t simply turn away when I entered their booths…pink head, inked arms and all.
These are the kinds of designers I’d encourage you to check out for your own weddings (I’ve listed my favourites at the end of this article and images from their latest collections illustrate this page.) However apart from these few choice rock stars, the majority of what I saw was pretty much exclusively pretentious and (as I like to call it) expensive ‘fluff’.”
Kat seems to be saying that apart from the designers she liked, everything else was pretentious and expensive ‘fluff’. Now I’m going to be generous and assume that she was using hyperbole as a literary device. Otherwise I would be forced to conclude that she doesn’t really know good design when it smacks her in the eye. Nearly all of the designers who were at the White Gallery are very good designers (I can only think of one I don’t think deserved to be there, which I won’t name), and do so much more than produce expensive fluff. You get what you pay for, and if you want exquisite lines, beautiful detailing, top craftsmanship and the finest materials, you buy from the kind of designer who exhibited at the White Gallery.
Who needed the PR the most? The newest designers. Who had the least customers to take up their time? Yep, the new kids on the block. So it doesn’t surprise me one bit that that’s who was prepared to take the time out to chat to Kat.
“The industry is in such a state of flux at the moment. In fact I can almost feel the impending shift from the domination of designer ‘fluff’ to the independent bad ass designers. After the show I wanted to cry but in retrospect I now want to scream out loud for all to hear “YEAAAH! Let’s do this and do it OUR WAY!”
So here’s to being different, here’s to being alternative, here’s to being punk rock and here’s to being goddamn Rock n Roll!”
Here’s the thing; when independent bad ass designers are successful, they generally follow a pretty standard trajectory – they start wholesaling to retail bridal shops. They join the ranks of designer ‘fluff’.
If everybody liked the same gowns, and the same bad ass designers, wouldn’t the world be a sadly vanilla place?! Thankfully, there is enough variety in wedding fashion for the highlight of the big day still being the anticipation of “what will she be wearing” just before the bride arrives.
So here’s to continuing diversity in the industry, here’s to continuing excellent design, and here’s to giving everybody a fair crack of the whip (to quote my antipodean relatives).