Oct 3, 2016
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Do you speak fashion?

Oct 3, 2016

If the idea of an "It girl influencer" sitting in a "frow" watching a "gender fluid" collection available in "see now, buy now" has you scratching your head, then you need our essential guide to fashion jargon.

Here are a few basic terms to help you understand what is going on at Paris fashion week:

Fashion week

Be careful. Fashion week is not just an ordinary week of seven days. A fashion week can be five days (in London), or six (in Milan) or eight (in New York) or nine or 10 (Paris). Please adjust you calendars accordingly. Never forget fashion works on another time plane.

Gender fluid

Which gender are you this season?

Transgender model Hari Nef walks for Neith Nyer's Spring-Summer 2017 collection in Paris - © PixelFormula

The strongest meta-trend in contemporary fashion is towards a more and more androgynous look, demolishing the boundaries between men's and women's style.

Uber-cool French label Vetements, which puts men and women in thigh high boots, dresses and XL bomber jackets, has brought the look to the street with a bang.

"There is no gender anymore," its commercial boss Guram Gvasalia told AFP. "Men and women can now chose what they want to be."

With former Kardashian consort Caitlyn Jenner now the face of H&M Sport, transgender models are ever-present this week in Paris. Often even close up it is hard to tell who is who.

Men and women now walk together on the catwalk for Gucci and Burberry as well as for Koche, Vivienne Westwood and Andrea Crews.


This is the front row, the place where you will find Kim Kardashian at Balmain, Salma Hayek at Saint Laurent, Rihanna at Dior, and AFP of course always.

It is also where you will find "It girls" and boys, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, top buyers, and the brand's most in-favour celebrity fans, cheerleaders and bloggers, who now like to be known as "influencers".

Behind them is everyone else, a fair proportion of who will be seething with envy and resentment for not being on the "frow". We shall not speak of those relegated to the dark oblivion of the "standing".

'See now, buy now'

This -- oddly for a fashion term -- means exactly what is says. You see a fashion show and you can buy the clothes straight away, not having to wait six months for them to appear in the shops as has traditionally been the case.

Big high-street, mostly US-focused brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Tom Ford and Burberry are adopting the practice, but most of Europe's younger and innovative creators regard it as the work of the devil.

They argue that it favours brands with their own stores, narrows choice and will be hugely wasteful, with pre-made clothes the public don't like heading straight for landfill.

Capsule collection

This is a one-off collection made between seasons or to sate fans who are clamouring to buy something after a fashion show. Not to be confused with a "resort collection" which is collection of clothes you take with you when you winter in Monte Carlo, Dubai or Palm Springs.


The term is generally used to describe people who dress like a Parisian. Those very annoying people who, with seemingly no effort at all, always look "effortlessly" stylish. Think Charlotte Gainsbourg. They don't have to be conventionally beautiful but they always looks good.

Ironically, one of the most expert current purveyors of this look is actually the British designer Clare Waight Keller at Chloe.

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