The front row of fashion week can be as political and dramatic as the season finale of House of Cards. With several tribes battling for a good view and celebrity seat buddies, missing out on front row seating is the ultimate snub.
The pole position in the fashion world is the end of the runway. Models stop and pose and views are uninterrupted – ideal for poorly lit mobile phone snaps. Sitting at the runway’s conclusion is a clear signal that you’ve made it.
An endless game of musical chairs based on who’s hot and who’s not, the seating plans at events like this week’s Melbourne Fashion Festival are meticulously planned to ensure maximum exposure.
Here’s who makes the cut. At least for the time being.
The celebrity guest
On Wednesday night, guests at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival’s (VAMFF) Grand showcase fawned over US actress and former Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria. Courtesy of festival sponsor L’Oreal, Longoria was wheeled out to do the obligatory posed photos and inject some Hollywood glamour. Last year, it was Victoria’s Secret model Barbara Palvin who had to do the awkward mingling.
Where: Stars are placed mid-runway next to sponsors and festival organisers for maximum crowd and photographer visibility.
Who: Eva Longoria, Barbara Palvin, supermodel Doutzen Kroes and burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese.
The event sponsors, organisers and politicians
If you pay for and plan an event, you give yourself the good seats. And rightly so. Executives from L’Oreal, Lavazza, and Virgin Australia want to be front and centre to celebrate their investment, as do the people who have painstakingly gotten everyone in one place, even if they are running half an hour late.
Where: Smack-bang in the middle of the runway, nestled between the most high-wattage attendees.
Who: Graeme Lewsey (CEO of VAMFF), Johan Berg (L’Oréal Australia Managing Director) and The Hon. David Hodgett MP.
A relatively new addition to the front row (often to the frustration of established media), these thoughtfully outfitted internet celebrities are here for two reasons: they look pretty and they bring thousands of followers with them. Instagram is their secret weapon and they’re not afraid to use it. Women like Margaret Zhang and Nicole Warne are arguably even bigger than stars like Eva Longoria and are fresh from the fashion weeks of Paris, New York and London. They mean big business and bring shoppers to the racks.
Where: at the end of the runway to improve the quality of their Instagram snaps.
Models, presenters and former Miss Universes
Here come the beautiful people. Usually statuesque bronzed beauties with television pedigree (read: Getaway presenters galore), this unique job description was pioneered by Jennifer Hawkins and countless glamazons have followed in her footsteps.
Where: Towards the end of the runway, where they can surreptitiously sneak into the background of runway snaps and fans can approach them without disturbing others.
Who: Megan Gale, Jennifer Hawkins, Scherri-Lee Biggs, Rachael Finch, Kate Waterhouse and Carrie Bickmore.
The editors and journalists
Unsurprisingly, media make up the majority of fashion show attendees. Representatives from magazines and newspapers are carefully selected based on the amount and type of coverage they will offer to take maximum advantage of minimal space. The editors of all the major newspapers are guaranteed a spot.
Where: The top and middle sections of the runway, occasionally the second row if their coverage is unsatisfactory.
Who: Edwina McCann (Vogue editor-in-chief), Damien Woolnough (deputy editor of Elle), Glynis Traill-Nash (Fashion Editor of The Australian), Kim Wilson and Anna Byrne (Herald Sun fashion editors), Kristen Galliott (InStyle editor) and Suzanne Carbone (The Age columnist).