The Daily Mash often makes me laugh for its razor-sharp accuracy and social commentary. None more so than a post earlier this year that @bombfashion reminded me of (that seems particularly pertinent at the moment) titled, ‘Fake Nice People Worse Than Authentic Bastards’.Yup, I’m with that the whole mile. Particularly as I fall more than a tad into the latter category.
Since moving North, the last year has shown me that ‘Whoah Nelly, this town sure has changed’ – and not in an altogether good way, since I was running around town with 80’s eyeshadow & wearing PX & Hamnett. Yes, there’s regeneration, there’s beautiful architecture, fantastic redevelopment of the Clydeside and Merchant City areas and incredible contemporary art and talent, as well as genuinely lovely, ordinary every day down-to-earth Glaswegians who make the city what it is. That’s the city’s slogan, by the way, ‘People Make Glasgow’. But if people do so in a nice way, there’s also the uglier, cliquey cronyism that is at work in smaller towns and, no doubt, in London and the ilk, only we don’t seem to see it as much as there’s more social circles and less post-coital rumours. I miss the old grittiness and honesty.
Take events and various awards ceremonies. Ironically, whilst receiving invitations for such fabulous events as Fortnum & Mason Skate Preview at Somerset House, designer store launches, Frieze Art Fair preview and catwalk shows (New York, London, Milan, Paris and even L.A, of late), a girl can’t get on the radar in her local town. (The blog now has over 10 million Googlesearch hits, people, and I’m fortunate to have earned some respect from industry peers through 25+ years of working in the fashion industry). Take, a recent situation re. the Turner Prize launch in Glasgow, where the professional Tate Modern in-house PR team and their exemplary, efficient PR agency for Turner Prize couldn’t have been more helpful. I’m known as being big into contemporary art (and also an ex-Colony Rooms member, the lauded club of choice of the YBA’s) so requested an invitation to the preview evening for the launch event at Glasgow’s Tramshed. Excitedly, I got my outfit together as I’d already pre-researched the backgrounds of the artists being exhibited, and was particularly fired-up over first dibs at seeing Nicole Wermers’ work, only for the PR for the Glasgow Council venue (ie. The Tramshed) to contact me half an hour before leaving (my taxi had been pre-ordered) and rescind the invitation. What tha? Now, this isn’t some chip-on-the-shoulder-bitter-sweeties comment but where on earth, elsewhere would this occur? Truly bizarre – and I have to say it though I know it will be unpopular, unprofessional and parochial in extremis.
Ditto fashion award ceremonies. I’m only too aware of restricted places and pecking order. Trust me, as a blogger and freelancer, one gets used to this but, with locally-based events, you’d think (and I say this as a long-in-the-tooth PR) that professionally, event organisers would try to be inclusive – particularly if you’re home-grown. Sometimes PR’s can accommodate, sometimes they can’t. No issue with that. The issue comes when, as a local blogger/writer with more than enough credibility and global reach in social media terms, you reach out and are dismissed. Particularly when late-request London-based friends then tell you they are invited with accommodation being paid. Hmm, there’s something wrong there. It smacks of cronyism and favour over ‘that London’, and I’m not merely talking the awards structure, where categories seem disjointed to include who’s available and/or to satisfy egos and advertisers. This is exemplified by GQ magazine’s awards ceremony in September, where editor and David Cameron biographer Dylan Jones chose to award the Chancellor of the Exchequer and all-round bad guy George Osborne (as ‘Politician of the Year’ no less), and representatives from countless advertisers eg. Kim Jones from Louis Vuitton, Sam Smith and James Bay, who are both signed to offshoots of Universal Music, and star of the latest James Bond outing, Christophe Waltz (pitching for that ‘Spectre’ media spend early).
Combined with the rise in social media vehicles such as Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope, there seems less regard for original thought and content, ie the blog as it traditionally known, when these social media vehicles act as I-want-to-be-famous-now-for-wearing-clothes (or not, in the case of Snapchat) rather than, you know, actually doing anything or being original. Couple aforesaid selfies with reams of faux humility & gratitude (barely disguised) to illicit yet more gifting and brand favours. Enough already. Fashion editor of the Independent, Alexander Fury, recently wrote that whilst “fashion asks for criticism…it really only wants praise”, and I would add that whilst fashion and media also requires intelligent, original content, what it really desires is thousands of social media followers with thousands of social media followers to drive the ubiquity of a brand, so that a name is only really known for being everywhere, rather than for what it excels in.
Even huge brands have devalued their brand via this format (and this is where I get really unpopular), but I give you Olivier Rousteing at Balmain’s Instagram feed. Beyond tacky, and pic after pic highlights Rousteing as model, playing with model friends. The feed has degenerated to ‘designer personality’ rather than luxury brand status, and should be regarded as ‘How to Devalue a Brand Instantly’. Ironically, where there is no mystique, there is no kudos. Selfie-obsessed wannabe famous Instagrammers think on. In an extension of this, blurring exists between networking (agreed positive mutual contact/benefit) and social climbing, which is just using people to advance one’s own aims. So many confuse the two. Particularly the ‘I need to be famous NOW’ gang. There’s more to talent than wearing clothes or putting shout-outs to brands in the hope they dress you. Usually, one has to earn the respect, give added value to the label, be original and, dare I say, have a personality to be a personality (yes, even THAT designer). This at least, sadly, isn’t a localised problem. It’s endemic globally, this need for attention and self-promotion and chasing fame for fame’s sake, rather than providing information, original viewpoints or entertainment. And back to my original point….fake nice people are worse than authentic bastards. I rest my case.