From Air Kisses to Double Clicks
Ten years ago, the internet was still a relatively new phenomenon. And the venerable house of Chanel was not pleased when photographs from its collections appeared online immediately after the shows, enabling copyists around the globe to deliver those styles to stores even before the real merchandise was available. Before the Fall 1996 collection, audience members received the following warning (in hard copy, of course):
Unless duly authorized, any use, directly or indirectly, through any intermediate or not, with or without charge, in any part of the world, specifically on the Internet, on CD-ROM and on any other multimedia networks and devices, of any images of all or any part of the collection presented in this show, including any images of the models appearing in this show, is strictly prohibited.
Not satisfied with mere legal warnings, Karl Lagerfeld deluged the audience with so many looks and silhouettes that knockoff artists couldn't select an iconic image from the collection. The next season, the designer received boos from photographers when he sent his looks for Chloe down a maze-like, difficult to shoot runway.
Fast forward a decade to the Fall 2006 collections. Cutting-edge sites like Fashion Tribes are podcasting daily, and IMG is streaming the shows. And Kaiser Karl himself has teamed up with Apple to offer a free podcast of the first runway show for his eponymous line. (Look for quilted, logo-stamped Chanel earphones next.)
When Fern Mallis, executive director of New York Fashion Week organizer Seventh on Sixth, was asked whether the the increased access would contribute to counterfeiting, she replied:
With media being so fast now...people can get on websites and see collections instantly. This is really about the entertainment value and the energy and buzz of it.
So let a thousand flowers bloom -- and keep the lawyers ready just in case.
How would the quintessentially modern Mademoiselle Chanel herself respond to all this? In her words, "Fashion does not exist unless it goes down to the streets." Or merges onto the information superhighway.