Closely following the publicity for the opening of the Condé Nast College of Fashion in January 2013, the Vogue brand looks set to expand its cachet yet further with the inaugural Vogue Festival being held Friday 20th – Saturday 21st April 2012.
When first hearing the words ‘Vogue Festival’ I was envisaging an effortlessly glamorous, probably vintage-tinged affair where style would beautifully walk over substance. Something in the line of Vintage at Goodwood or the myriad, mirror ball-fantastic jazz era parties hosted by Prohibition.
Although labelled as a ‘festival’ the event is actually a combination of beauty and styling activities with aspects of a more traditional conference or symposium. In a setting which befits this amalgamation of surface beauty with academic musing, the festival will be housed at the Royal Geographic Society in west London. Perhaps the ‘festival’ tag is to encourage a more diverse audience than would attend, for instance, a History of Costume conference at the Courtauld Institute and if this is the case then this is a laudable aim as it will in part be the crowd who create the event.
However, in the opposite vein, the panel discussions and schedule also form part of a larger movement during recent years to have fashion taken more seriously. The V&A has been long been championing this aim, with its recent Selling Dreams: 100 years of fashion photography touring exhibition being the latest contribution. Also, that an esteemed History of Art establishment like the Courtauld Institute now offers History of Costume PhDs shows that fashion is not entirely the perceived preserve of airheads anymore.
Fashion Question Time
Discussions begin with the Woman’s Hour-friendly ‘Too Young? Too Old? Does fashion have an age limit?’, but it is the other Radio 4 inspired block ‘Fashion Question Time’ on Saturday morning which looks the most interesting. This is not only because it is preceded by another session with the genius photographer Tim Walker, but because the panel is comprised of some of the most exciting, young London designers of the moment – including Mary Katrantzou, Christopher Kane and Roksanda Ilincic. This stellar line up is more than enough to get reverent fashionistas drooling, but in including recent success stories it also prevents proceedings from becoming too much of an Old People Give Young People Advice event. As someone who recently attended a Media insight course I can attain that that format can quickly become patronising and repetitive and it is promising that Vogue have shunned this potentiality.
The festival is split into four half-day sessions, each costing £75. On first glance this appears rather pricey, although when set against participation costs for conferences at Russell Group universities (I have been ‘invited’ to ones costing over £100) and day tickets for events such as the new Vintage Festival at Boughton House (NUS £50 plus booking fee), they are not wildly out of line with comparable events. The quality of the photographers, designers and stylists on the panels at least in part justifies the cost.
However, if the cost is too prohibitive for starving students like myself, there is the alternative of following the festival via live reporting on vogue.com and twitter (#voguefest). This method will prevent you from posing for your own mock-up cover shot or having your hair and makeup done by top stylists, but it does offer one alternative route of access to the discussions. Maybe the answer is to host your own ‘festival’ with friends and alcohol whilst staying firmly attached via the web to the official one.
It would be easy to be cynical about this event and indeed it does look unlikely to convert or attract those who already declare themselves to be somewhat above and uninterested in the snobbish and irreverent world of fashion (despite this view of the industry actually chiming quite consistently with their own personalities). However, for those who cherish that special moment each month when Vogue drops through the letterbox, this defiantly looks like a lovely way to spend half a day or more.
For those who have the opportunity and means to go, I would only ask for a continual stream of tweets and perhaps a souvenir T-shirt. Thanks.
Tickets are on sale now: www.vogue.co.uk/voguefestival