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Reading a press release has made geniuses out of fashion journalists.
Fashion journalists have been called many things: bimbos, materialistic Mammons, lookist, judgmental and non-writers. Some of these apply to some of us. Sometimes, all of these apply to some of us.
But dumb, we are not (never mind our lack of distinctions). I say this with absolute conviction, simply because we have mastered the art of reading a press release.
A press release is a letter or email of communication sent to a journalist as a news pitch. Bill Stoller's PublicityInsider.com is a website that helps start-ups and entrepreneurs with business and marketing tips. It states, and accurately so: "A press release is a pseudo news story, written in third person, that seeks to demonstrate the newsworthiness of a particular person, service or product."
Sitting with reams of press releases collated from my seat after every show at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, I doff my hat to my colleagues in the fashion press. I feel their pain when they try to make sense of gobbledygook masked in verbosity. I share their joy when a complex pattern is simply pointed out. I echo their frustration when our seats are empty: some designers have actually spent months putting together a fashion collection but don't care in letting the fashion press know what it's about.
Sure, we can tell colours and generic styles, and even a circle cut from a bias. But the Muse, the underlying story, the newness in fabric development or the origins of the collection conceptually is vital to a review. Without these, the review is half-baked or simply fake.
Rajesh Pratap Singh, the guru of the esoteric (who marked his return to the runway with last month's collection after a prolonged illness), insisted on baffling us. His collection was called 'The Trilogy of a Broken Spine, Wolfpack and Catharsis', and his press sheet read as scribbles from a hospital bed. "Run with your own, calling all the wolfpack/ Where did you go and when did you come back... Some new blended materials, experiments with silk... and tones of that manmade stuff." With a show that was drowned by the excessive smoke machine, a line sheet was missed even more.
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