As with all things slightly unattainable, having an ‘in the know’ nickname or acronym only serves to make it even more attainable, as in if you have to ask, then you certainly don’t belong. As with everything fashion, exclusion is the whole point.
What could be more exclusive than the pecking order of fashion shows with the Front Seating exclusively reserved for ‘Club Members’, a small coterie of women with bold face names, Lynn Wyatt, Anne Bass, Mercedes Bass, (yes, they were married to the same man), Carroll Petrie, Susan Gutfreund, Daphne Guinness, Mouna Ayoub Zulu, Suzanne Saperstein, Susan Casden, Becca Cason Thrash … wealthy socialites whose common denominator is the fact that they are married to stupendously rich men and have the ability to spend mortgage size wads of cash on clothes each season.
While Fashion houses are extremely protective of the membership and are careful about giving access they were not averse to fast tracking new entrants if they were able to establish their credentials by showing the ability to give or spend conspicuously, as in the case of Becca Cason Thrash, raising $400,000 for the American Friends of The Louvre.
With the rising cost of couture and waning interest, Fashion houses created a new membership category ‘famous thin people’, and the likes of Victoria Beckham started popping up on the Front Row. Needless to say old members were none too happy about this, but before they could finish gasping in disdain boom!!! The new Celebrity phenomena had busted in en masse and taken over the Front Row.
Celebrities are not members of the club. Real club members buy their clothes, said one old guard archly, and Daphne Guinness remarked that she could never wear a dress that had already been worn by a celebrity as the exclusivity factor would not be there. Lamentably nobody cares what they think, least of all the fashion houses. They were more concerned about flogging their wares in a new global marked and courted the media attention shamelessly
Front Row seats are no longer guaranteed by how much you spend. They are reserved for celebrities (read as anybody, who’s hot right now) and bloggerrati’s, social influencers who can bring eyeballs and star power to a designer collection and ensure that it’s shared on multimedia platforms…
With the swirl of media hype surrounding it, getting front row seating has taken a scrum like quality. To come out on top and be bestowed with one is to be validated as cool. Unfortunately the cool-list is always changing. This has added yet another layer of paranoia to the fashion cognoscenti, giving us delicious drama, endless stories filled with tantrums and tears. In any case unbeknown to most, the front Row has reduced somewhat over the years. In truth everybody knows the real front row is at the bottom of the Runway 3 seats either side or within camera shot of Anna Wintour otherwise known as the ‘Money Shot!’