Pre-collections, which began May 4 with this Chanel Cruise show in Seoul, South Korea, will have a formal schedule in London next month.
Hot on the heels of its successful introduction of London Collections: Men, the men’s wear week whose success has become the envy of all other fashion weeks and spurred the Council of Fashion Designers of America to introduce its own men’s week, the British Fashion Council has announced yet another formalized presentation period: London Pre-Collections.
Scheduled for June 15 to 17, the event will include a special centralized showroom — the Hoxton Collective — featuring designers such as Huishan Zhang, Marques’Almeida and Zoë Jordan. There will also be listed presentations by names including Burberry, Roland Mouret, Anya Hindmarch and Peter Pilotto.
O.K., that’s not a week of events, precisely. But in fashion terms, it counts.
“This season is a pilot for us to learn from and improve moving forward,” Caroline Rush, the chief executive of the British Fashion Council, or B.F.C., said in an email. “The aim is to help buyers, press and brands to coordinate London dates, rather than overcrowding a schedule or duplicating activity.”
There is no arguing that the pre-collections, which began May 4 with the Chanel Cruise show in Seoul, South Korea, and run through mid-June, are formless and confusing.
The simple fact that designers can’t agree on what to call it — Cruise? Resort? Pre-Spring? Spring? — is an indication of its messiness. And yet I am not sure I agree that adding another fashion period is the answer.
After all, for those on the show circuit — and those being fed information about the show circuit this summer — that period of supposed professional slowdown will now be:
London Men’s: June 12 to 15
London Pre-Collections: June 15 to 17
Milan Men’s: June 20 to 23
Paris Men’s: June 24 to 28
Couture: July 5 to 10
New York Men’s: July 13 to 16
But is this really efficient? Ms. Rush says that during the pre-collections shows the B.F.C. would be “focusing on domestic women’s wear buyers, press and some European outreach,” so it is not assuming that people will come from overseas — but that ignores fashion’s very palpable herd instinct.
For an example, see street-style photographers outside shows, who are supposed to be curating their own choices but run like lemmings toward anyone they see their peers photographing. Or toward pretty much any runway trend.
Of course, Milan also created a formal pre-collection period in 2010 —Milano Moda Pre-collezioni — and it did not really draw international attention. Indeed, although Carlo Capasa, the new president of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, emailed that pre-collections remains an important selling period, it lasts from June 11 to July 18 and is not listed on the show schedule of the organization’s website. Meanwhile, major Italian brands such as Gucci still hold pre-collection presentations in New York.
Which makes me wonder if the lesson should be: The answer is not more shows that become optional stops on the circuit and put even more pressure on designers (because let’s face it, as soon as a collection becomes an official “thing,” it implies someone is creating a statement worthy of being noted), but fewer shows with a bigger impact.
That’s just me, though.