The Star-Studded Front Rows of Fall/Winter 2024

Rachel discusses the impact a celebrity studded front row can have on the success of a collection’s debut with reference to the Fall/Winter 2024 collections, and question if celebrity presence overshadows designers’ collections.

Do the A-listers sat in the front row of fashion shows take away from the collections on the catwalk themselves? It is well known that brands take efforts to fill the seats of their front rows with high profile celebrities, tapping into the adoration of fanbases around the world and attracting further media coverage. However, does this overshadow the main event? Do celebrities gain more attention than the garments on the catwalk? Is this what fashion designers want? Or do they feel this clouds their collection they have worked so hard to seek validation and engagement for? This article will discuss the significance of who is in the front row, the impact this has on how the collection is received, and whether this influences the success and publicity of the collection.

It is undeniable that the range of guests invited to sit in the front row of top fashion shows can massively affect the extent of media coverage of the collection being displayed. However, is it really in designers’ best interests for their shows to be treated as mere backdrops of celebrity activity? There have been changes in the role that A-lister celebrities play when they attend fashion shows, and fashion brands are very particular about who they want in the front row and what kind of message they want to circulate in the media. In the past, it was natural for celebrities to wear clothes from the current seasons collection, promoting looks that would likely be displayed on the catwalk. Times have however changed, which is evidenced in the Fendi catwalk shows of the spring/summer 2024 collection where front row celebrities such as Demi Moore and Christina Ricci appear to be dressed in the next seasons designs… The reason for this may seem clear, that Fendi want to promote their up-and-coming designs for the following season; however, does this distract onlookers from the season at hand?

 

getty images
Credit: Getty Images

During fashion week, it sometimes feels like my social feeds are filled more so with images and gossip about celebrity guests attending a show, rather than coverage of the collection itself. This made me think: what do fashion designers care most about, the reception of their actual collection or who is seen to be admiring it in the front row? With the continued growth of social media in the last 10 years, fashion designers have competed to seek out the most sought-after celebrities of the moment to come and sit centre stage for their catwalks. By dressing them in not merely the current season’s collection, but the next, they are providing an opportunity to launch their next designs and ignite excitement for future collections. The fashion world, as such a fast-moving industry, needs to continually stir up demand for future collections and one of the best and easiest ways to do this is by inviting A-list celebrities to attend shows, wear their line, and promote it on their social media pages. This is an excellent way for designer labels to connect with the masses and hint at what is to be expected for their up-and-coming collections.

So what, or should I say who, makes an eye-catching front row? Designers will usually have approximately 100 front row seats to fill, although normally only around 15 seats, positioned front and centre will be reserved exclusively for high profile celebrities. A crucial aspect that can make or break the show is if the celebrities seated together are friendly with each other as this can add an extra dimension to how the collection is received if photographers are able to capture moments of excitement and gossip between the celebrities. This can really help to promote the designer’s line and can arguably be more striking and stir up greater demand than the clothes that are on the catwalk. One of the best ways to guarantee a ticket front and centre at a show is to have had a past relationship with the brand; for example, Harry Styles’ friendship with the former artistic director of Gucci assured him a place. This may also provide opportunities for the public to think back on a previous collections that the celebrity modelled or helped promote.

 

Credit: Shuttershock/ British Vogue.

Zooming in on the Fall/Winter 2024 collection, we’ll focus on the much-anticipated Marc Jacobs’s 40th Anniversary show slightly predated the NYFW calendar. Marc Jacobs’ showcase at the Park Avenue Armory attracted celebrities such as Chole Sevigny, Debbie Harry and Hari Nef. Concurrently, Christian Siriano, always a highlight for celebrities, held his own show at The Plaza where Alicia Silverstone and Melanie Lynskey were in attendance. Silverstone was pictured in a stunning red dress, reminiscent of a Cher look from her 1995 film Clueless. Fans and fashion lovers were quick to notice this and took to social media to share their excitement, promoting Siriano’s show in the process. This, therefore, demonstrates the power designers have when deciding not only who should be sat in their front row, but how they want to dress them, too. Both factors can have dazzling effects on the publicity of their current line and future collections.

 

Credit: Getty Images.

Over at Tommy Hilfiger, guests included Becky G, Kelly Rutherford and Sofia Richie Grainge. This collection, ‘an ode to New York City’, acted as a homage to what the designer called ‘a lifetime of memories… [creating] the perfect moment’. It was set in the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Terminal where there were signature pops of red to link with the label’s notorious tricolour branding. It was no surprise that Sofia Richie Grainge, the latest Tommy Hilfiger ambassador and latest ‘old money’ icon was sat in the front row with her husband and other fellow A-listers. The connection to this collection and the Upper East Side aesthetic was not lost on social media as many linked the collection to the noughties show Gossip Girl and its preppy costuming, a reference made all-the-more powerful with Kelly Rutherford (AKA Lilly Van der Woodsen) herself sat in the front row. By filling their front row with symbols of both fictional and real ‘old money’ icons, Tommy Hilfiger reaffirmed its specific brand of upper-crust New York wealth.

 

Credit: Nina Westervelt via Getty Images

 

Credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

In this piece, I have drawn a link between the importance of who has the privilege to dawn the front row of highly anticipated fashion shows and the impact this has on the reception of the fashion designer’s collection and brand as a whole. There is no doubt that celebrities are crucial in helping promote fashion designer’s collections but are we overfocused on who sits in the front row and what they wear, thus overshadowing the clothes on the catwalk? Increasingly I would argue we are, hence, designers naturally take advantage of this, placing and dressing celebrities in ways that will boost publicity. Whilst multiple factors lead to the success of a collection, A-listers seem to be playing an ever-growing role, forcing designers and organisers to adapt their promotion and publicity strategies to engage a high-profile class of celebrities.

 

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