Fashion week job swap: could I become an Instagram star?

Social networking stars are wielding growing power within the fashion industry what goes on when Jess Cartner-Morley trades places with influencer Doina Ciobanu?

The front row is really a world divided. Montagues and Capulets, in bare legs instead of doublet and hose. Backward and forward blocs editors around the one hands, influencers alternatively there’s little love lost. Last fall, American Vogue staffers branded the influencers pathetic, describing the task as arriving, searching absurd, posing, twitching inside your seat while you look at your social networking feeds. The influencers hit back, branding their Vogue attackers as haughty and from touch. (Return to your Werthers Originals, would be a particularly choice comeback.) We believe they’re airheads they believe we’re fogeys. So, to discover whos right, I’ve arranged employment swap at London fashion week. Doina Ciobanu is 22, has 225,000 followers on Instagram (sometimes of writing), and attends shows like a model, Very important personel guest and brand ambassador. Ciobanu increased in the previous Soviet republic of Moldova, where she started blogging aged 16. She gone to live in Bucharest at 19, and today resides in London. For Saturday at London Fashion Week, I’ll do her job and she or he is going to do mine.

My job would be to talk about the shows. Conntacting deadline frames my days and anything else designer interviews, looking at up-and-comers, analysing emerging trends needs to accomodate that. Doinas job would be to provide online content, mostly self-portraits with fairly brief captions, most of which are arranged together with labels whose clothes or beauty items she wears within the photos. I’m a specialist Doina is definitely an avatar.

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Julien Macdonald is interviewed by Doina Ciobanu. Photograph: David Newby for the Guardian

The unspoken fashion editor dress code is low-key. Black trousers and a navy jumper is fine. The goalposts have shifted over the past decade, as fashion week has become a more public event but still. Today, however, I am an influencer. So my first outfit is a new-season Gucci emblem T-shirt, Mih wide-legged, floor-sweeping jeans, a checked Simone Rocha jacket with puffy sleeves, to which i’ve added my very own black Nicholas Kirkwood footwear along with a cherry-red Alexander McQueen bag that’s a long time old. The outfit feels cumbersome, both literally (I cant obtain the belt to sit down right, and Im afraid of tripping within the hem from the jeans) and figuratively. It requires up lots of mental space, being outfitted such as this.

I talk with Doina inside a Pret near London Wall, nearby in the Julien Macdonald show. She’s come outfitted like a journalist, in jeans along with a black sweater, together with her hair inside a bun. But she doesnt seem like a journalist whatsoever, not only since the sweater is really a fancy one which Julien sent over today on her to put on towards the show, speculate she’s 22 and, like the majority of the new wave of influencers, absurdly beautiful. Imagine Kendall Jenner entered with Emily Ratajkowski, and you get the drift: not only gorgeous, however with a particular aesthetic that’s millennial catnip. Eyes disproportionately large, cheekbones defined even just in repose, she appears like an animated Snapchat filter.

Doinas favourite book, she informs me, is Platos Republic. She reads newspapers in British the Wall Street Journal and also the Financial Times but fiction in Russian. (Several things in existence, you are able to express them better in Russian.) Her existence plan’s first to construct a brandname like Chiara Ferragni, also known as The Blonde Salad, the 29-year-old Italian influencer that has built an individual brand worth an believed 10m, after which to get the very first female president of Moldova. I have the time, she states. I’ll do that first, after which, after i am 40, possibly I’ll get into politics. I’m 43. What have I been doing with all of time?

Outdoors the show, Doina greets the streetstyle photographers with kisses before obligingly recrossing the street to allow them to obtain a better shot of her coming. After which crossing the street again, to allow them to obtain the shot again. And again, and again. She performs this 8 or 9 occasions, allowing each professional photographer to capture exactly the same reportage-style shot of her, apparently serenely indifferent towards the lens. These images can look on streetstyle blogs the photographers will tag her, so she will find and regram the images.

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Jess outside a show at London fashion week 2017. Photograph: David Newby for the Guardian

Being Doina is a complex business. Some brands pay her to model in their social media marketing, others pay her to endorse their products. An agent negotiates fees. He looks at what a regular model would get paid, and at what a top celebrity would get paid, and pitches me somewhere in the middle, she explains. A brand will send Doina images or samples of a new seasons products it could be a mascara or a piece of jewellery and if I like the brand and it fits my aesthetic, she will select pieces she is happy to endorse. But many posts are unsponsored, starring Doina in clothes she has bought or borrowed. These reinforce her aesthetic and voice, and build following.

The resistance of the fashion establishment to the likes of Doina is one part anxiety (the elite always fear becoming obsolete), one part snobbery (there have always been It girls who got photographed outside shows, but they used to be debutantes, the goddaughters of the elite, not young women from Moldova), and one part ethical suspicion that there is something compromised or false about the influencer role. This last part is tricky to unpick. Authenticity means something different for Doinas generation than for mine. A tiny example: halfway through our day, a shot appears on Doinas Instagram account of her in a cafe, captioned much-needed coffee between shows we havent stopped for coffee. However when I take it up, she’s nicely nonplussed because when baffled I’m. Within the run-as much as busy periods, she explains, she’ll frequently prepare posts in order to have appropriate content all set to go. The photo wasnt taken at the time doesnt strike her as by any means fake. Her social networking isnt a logbook of her existence, its a contemporaneous brand-strategy document. As long as shes the main one calling the shots, then it’s in keeping with herself, since it is in keeping with her vision of herself.

To Doina, being separate from commercial alliance isn’t aspirational. An era who’ve developed dreaming about becoming personal brands don’t treat brands with suspicion. Since every man and lady is her very own brand, The Person may be the bogeyman forget about. When the designer of the dress she likes pays Doina to put on that dress, it is not an agreement, its win-win. Indeed, she sees herself like a pressure permanently. I wish to get involved with female legal rights in eastern Europe, because nobody is fighting with this, she states. Moldova is among the poorest europe, and it is female population face significant discrimination. A 2010 study by the National Bureau of Statistics discovered that 63% of ladies had experienced mental, physical or sexual violence using their husband or partner. In her own efforts to make use of her profile to assist the reason, Doina has been around touch with UN Women in Moldova, with Versace, who’re very thinking about speaking about female empowerment, she adds, as though the United nations and Versace were two comparable platforms.

Doinas business design is resolutely digital, but her aesthetic is completely inside the glossy magazine tradition. Her Instagram is bubble baths in chic hotel rooms, soulful evening strolls across the Seine. My submissions are always aspirational, she states, which needs time to work. I cant have a photo if theres litter around the pavement. So there’s, inevitably, a disconnect between your carefree tone of her content and also the effort needed. The Julien Macdonald show runs 30 minutes late, so its a race from the clock across to London to some meet-and-greet for influencers with Gigi Hadid in the Tommy Hilfiger store, a scheduled appointment that’s as significant in Doinas diary just like any fashion show. Hadid, with nearly 32m followers on Instagram, is digital fashion royalty.

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Doina greets photographers outside a London fashion week show. Photograph: David Newby for the Guardian

During fashion week, my life involves a lot of small talk with whoever I happen to be seated next to. But in Doinas world, communication through a screen trumps talking to the people who are around you every time. Its a numbers game: if an influencer has to choose between talking to the thousands of people who are with her on social media or the three people in her taxi, she will naturally prioritise the thousands. In the cab on the way to Knightsbridge, she breaks off our conversation to post a video on her Instagram story telling her followers that she is in a cab on the way to Knightsbridge. At the Tommy Hilfiger shop, influencers nod greetings to each other and get on with the business of posting photos to their followers. After the rush to get here, Hadid is running late and I am now regretting having passed up the opportunity to eat at Pret. The room is lavishly catered with beautiful food that does not seem intended for actual consumption. There are miniature burgers, but the beef patties are sandwiched between macaroons rather than bread buns. It looks shareable, but only in the digital sense. When Hadid arrives, she and Doina say hello and then, even before Doina has lifted her phone aloft, they both automatically fluff their hair and position their faces next to each other for a selfie video, which Doina immediately posts on her Instagram using the caption keep encountering this beauty.

By now i’m depriving. But there is no time for you to stop, because we’re racing back across the river for any fly-by trip to the Astley Clarke presentation in the Institution of Engineering near the Savoy hotel, before a 2-mile dash north to Bloomsbury and also the JW Anderson show. Doinas sweet face clouds over when she realises she’s been neglecting her Snapchat during the last handful of hrs. Basically forget, she states, my mother or boyfriend will text to nag me about this. She works every single day from morning until night time or 2am. At Christmas, she required 72 hours removed from social networking. Individuals were my only slow days previously 3 years, she states. This is actually the only time I hear Doina being remotely negative about anything. Becoming an influencer may be effort, but to really make it lucrative it needs to be aspirational, so you’ve to appear as if you are getting fun whatsoever occasions.

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Doina and Jess arrive at a show. Photograph: David Newby for the Guardian

One of the key differentiators between editors and influencers is that while we wear the same clothes all day, give or take a 9pm black tie upgrade, influencers will often change into an outfit by the designer of each show they attend. So, on the way to JW Anderson, I commandeer the backseat of a British Fashion Council vehicle to alter right into a skirt and shirt through the designer. The strain to be within my bra and knickers in broad daylight, fumbling to lock shirt buttons over time to help make the next show, rattles me greater than any copy deadline does. I completely forget to place the coordinating earrings on, and quit on altering footwear, since the skirt is a lot too lengthy and it has a tentacle-formed hemline which i swear is attempting to kill me. But as it happens you have to suffer for fashion. The killer skirt works. The photographers outdoors the show like it, and my picture winds up on American Vogues Best Street Style Pics from Londons Fall 2017 Shows. Still, you are able to tell I am not intended to be there: everybody else within the gallery is studiously staying away from eye-to-eye contact using the professional photographer for that preferred candid format. I’m smiling in the camera. Total sophistication fail.

Doina is way better inside my job than I’m at hers. Following the show, we mind to Emilia Wickstead, and shortly later on she files her reviews in my experience for feedback. They’re excellent. From her Julien Macdonald review: Female empowerment is really a term of the day. But where New Yorks designers offered up feminism within the guise of slogan tees, Macdonald construed it through his idea of the next where clothing is made on-demand, tailored towards the form of every lady.

We go our separate methods for a short while, so when I see her again in the 9pm Versus show, I’m advised from the famous quote about Ginger root Rogers and Fred Astaire: that they did everything he did, backwards as well as in high heel shoes. Doina has utilized the hour to take off her jeans and right into a fuchsia tuxedo suit having a black lace camisole and spike-heeled sandals. And me? I ate a pizza.

Doinas week as Jess: Im most likely getting more enjoyable

Sometimes hard in the fashion shows, but I am not likely to pretend it is not glamorous. You can observe that on my small Instagram feed, where Im skipping lower a crumbling staircase in Paris or posing inside a Louis Vuitton minidress in Milan. That which you dont see may be the behind-the-scenes effort: the several weeks of conferences in advance, google’s doc filled with contact information for designers, and so i dont finish up putting on exactly the same Gucci loafers as everybody else. You do not begin to see the last-minute panics on show day: altering my outfit within the vehicle while my driver tactfully waits around the pavement shoving protein bars into my mouth between appointments.

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Doina Ciobanu at a launch party in London. Photograph: David Benett

Ive always been fascinated by the journalists I see at fashion week. I like how serious they look. They are in their own world, while Im talking to my followers on my two phones. Were both working, but I feel like Im probably having more fun. I love print journalism; I love to feel a magazine in my hands; I know some people think its irrelevant these days, but I really hope that is not the case.

The Guardians fashion team asked me to make like a journalist and wear one simple outfit, rather than get changed between the shows. That was a liberation: no desperate rush to find somewhere to change. I even had time to buy a coffee.

At the Julien Macdonald show, it felt very strange to be taking notes, rather than pictures. Its such a tight space on the front row that a notebook and pen were useless. As soon as the clapping had finished, I rushed backstage, as instructed, to grab a quote. Macdonald was friendly, but I was in a crush of other journalists, everyone is muscling in, trying to congratulate him or ask questions. I had to manage all that, and say something intelligent, and take notes, too. Its very different from meeting a designer as an influencer, when Ill kiss them on the cheek and say, I love your clothes, and theyll say, You look beautiful, and thats it.

I wrote the review on my phone, while walking down the street between shows. It was stressful. Im used to writing one thing quickly on Instagram; I dont need to give that a lot of thought. But a lot of people are going to read this, and theres an additional layer of stress that comes from knowing that its the Guardian.

My next assignment, an Emilia Wickstead report, was harder. We were short of time, so I didnt go backstage to speak to her and had to come up with an analysis on my own. It was the end of the day, I was hungry, I was tired, my brain wasnt working. I started writing the piece on the way home; the deadline seemed impossibly soon and I was anxious to make it good.

I studied political science and history, so I love understanding the cause of events. Being a journalist for a day gave me a chance to flex those analytic muscles; as an influencer, you simply look at what looks good on people, what you think people would like. Id love to use my brain more in that way in the future, by getting more involved in activism, using my following for good. But I wouldnt be a journalist. Im an independent soul. Usually, when Im working, Im the brand. As a journalist, its not about you.

Doinas Julien Macdonald review

All hail female empowerment. Or so indicated designer Julien Macdonald backstage after successfully debuting his autumn/winter 2017 collection.

Female empowerment, feminism and their ilk are the terms du jour for the fashion set right now. New York fashion week gave collection after collection where womens rights were the focus. But where New Yorks designers offered up feminism in the guise of slogan tees and underwear surely destined for fame as a hashtag, Macdonald interpreted it through his concept of a future where technology has such an impact on fashion that clothes are made on demand, tailored to the shape of every individual woman.

For Macdonald that is, of course, a particular style of clothing and a particular type of woman. One empowered, one confident. If feminism is a thread that runs through Macdonalds winter 2017 collection, its the same feminism that the likes of Emily Ratajkowski are available celebrating: that the lady can express herself and her person at any given time of her selecting, Laura Mulveys male gaze be damned. Appropriate, then, that Ratajkowski has been doing much justice to Macdonalds designs prior to this.

Macdonald will a style and that he will it well. His hallmark spiderweb dresses continue to be found, but more and more with straighter lines and alongside dresses supplying a sleeker and much more advanced vision. Macdonald explained that his inspiration was modern architecture, big metropolitan areas [and] the area. His fall/winter 2017 might be inspired with a future landscape, but theres also an aura from the imagined future that the kind of Fritz Lang once saw for all of us. Nostalgia, the current, and also the future always go hands in hands.

Find out more: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/apr/07/fashion-week-job-swap-jess-cartner-morley-doina-ciobanu-instagram

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