Without naming brand names, I once went to a fashion show where guests were sectioned off into two rooms – one room was where the show would be watched by the "proper" more highly ranked guests, the other was where us "lesser" folk would watch a video stream of the show, inviting everyone under the pretense that we would all get to watch the show. Yup, some smart marketing person thought that the "internet folk" would be so blissfully happy to be within such close proximity of the show that they'd be content with watching a stream (that was fully accessible to the public anyway), located right next to the real shebang.
At Miu Miu yesterday, I feared there would be a similar situation. We arrived at the Palais D'Iena in Paris where the show has been held for a few seasons now and I was ushered into the h√©micycle part of the venue. It's not a part of the showspace that was shown on the livestream you guys saw nor has it ever been used as part of a fashion show before.
Miu Miu had commissioned regular collaborators AMO (part of Rem Koolhas' OMA design firm) to design an elaborate wooden seat and catwalk set-up that clad much of the Palais D'Iena and then wound through to the h√©micycle area of the building – i.e. the bit that sits under the rotunda which is visible from outside, if you've ever been to that part of posh Paris. It's actually used by the Conseil Economique et Social and during the day time, it's used by political advisors to discuss important things that go above my head, hence why the seats in this tiered semi-circular space each come with a panel of voting buttons – Oui, Abstenir, Non. In front of us was a large curtain where we could see a stream going on of the main space (as seen in the video stream of the show and in the picture above). Oh dear. Memories of that aforementioned show where us blogger cattle were shut off in the streaming room came flooding back.
Joy of all joys. I then asked a PR if the models were actually going to be walking through this space and she confirmed that yes, we were in fact going to see the show. I breathed a sigh of relief. The bonus was that the seats in this tiered parliament theatre were actually the comfiest I'd sat on all month long. Someone remarked that it felt like we were in a United Nations meeting. Pity we couldn't vote on the show with the buttons in front of our seats.
Then the show started and I finally understood the genius of this unique spacial collaboration between AMO and Miu Miu. As the models started walking through, we saw a stream with imagery of the modernist Palais D'Iena (originally designed by Auguste Perret) superimposed on top of the video play out on the curtain. It was a real integration of the prestigious setting together with the collection. It's not the first time Prada have done interesting things with the Palais D'Iena as they also hosted the 24 Hour Museum, curated by Francesco Vezzoli back in January and AMO also recontextualised the space in an innovative way.
Then the models wearing looks of jarring elegance that were just my speed, would walk through our little semi-circular theatre for us to see the clothes in real life. I looked around and it was interesting to note that most of the bloggers and web editors that tend to get invited to Miu Miu were in our amphitheatre space and that most of the traditional print journalists, big hitting editors and stylists were in the more conventional elongated catwalk space. Don't we always bang on about how bloggers are after a different point of view to print journalists and that they crave content creation through their own filter? Well here was the perfect opportunity to take advantage. Miu Miu was serving us up a unique perspective of the show that yes, involved the models and the collection but also gave us an insight into Miuccia Prada's use of the digital medium. The superimposed imagery over the video was very much in line with the Real Fantasies animated books and video that they have been creating at Prada for quite a while now. They may not have a Twitter account or an Instagram feed but they are engaging in digital-based projects in ways that feel right for their brand. I could just be reading too much into it and it's possible that the seating at the show might not have been a deliberate separation of digital and traditional press on Prada's part but either way, as a blogger show goer, it felt extra special to sit in that stately semicircle and see the collection play out in front of me involving both live and digital elements. By the by, I would have pressed the green "Oui" button over and over again if I could. It was a bloody good collection but more about that later.