Catwalks compared: The world's fashion weeks leave audiences all a-twitter

From New York to Milan, designers and audiences embraced technology this season

This was the season that the fashion industry embraced technology in all its forms. With many criticising the biannual shows – and the ensuing air miles – as archaic and environmentally unsound, designers explored new ways to reach the masses. Alexander McQueen, Burberry and Dolce & Gabbana all live-screened their shows online, while bloggers were granted front-row status ‑ with accompanying laptop stations ‑ at several brands.

Designers were not the only ones embracing technology. Audiences were awash with buyers and press tapping out tweets on everything from who was in the front row to what they thought of each outfit.

The most daring, and as it turned out ill-fated, move was at Emanuel Ungaro, where sometime actor Lindsay Lohan was appointed as creative advisor.

She invited her A-list friends, via Twitter, to attend the show and took her final bow in tears, hand-in-hand with the Spanish designer Estrella Archs. The collection, which featured glitter nipple pasties, was universally panned but did get extensive coverage. The way collections are presented to the world is certainly changing.

Strong themes ran through each fashion week from New York to Paris, the strongest of which was the 1990s sport references – hoodies and cropped tops and cycling shorts as well as the influence of new sexy lingerie. The month-long round of fashion shows previewing designs for next summer ended this week. These were the highlights:

New York

Marc Jacobs is one of the main reasons for our current obsession with the shoulder pad, so all eyes were on his catwalk to see what's next. In the front row he placed 13-year-old blogger Tavi Gevinson, who was dressed head to toe in Jacobs's new season designs – which referenced sport via cycling shorts, as well as theatre, ballet and the opera with upturned Aladdin platform shoes. The surprise hit of the schedule was Victoria Beckham, who has secured her place in the fashion firmament with her celebrity-endorsed range of expensive dresses. The collection – a mix of cocktail and red-carpet gowns – was met with universal acclaim.


The capital's 25th anniversary of fashion week saw the return of big-name brands Matthew Williamson, Pringle and Burberry, who had arguably the best front row of the month ‑ see below. But two lesser-known names also emerged triumphant. Mark Fast's plus-size models proved controversial but were well received, and Erdem Moralioglu earned acclaim when he hosted Samantha Cameron, the wife of David Cameron, in his front row and Sarah Brown chose one of his dresses for the Labour party conference. Leading trends included ice-cream pastels and 90s luxe sportswear alongside conical bras ‑ part of the underwear as outwear theme ‑ and scuba-come-surfer style.


The Italians climbed to the rafters to scream sex this season, with Raf Simons at Jil Sander going so far as to screen the orgy scene from Zabriskie Point during his show. The progressive Miuccia Prada gave us lucite s hoes with clicking chandelier crystals that matched see-through dresses and bags worn by her 60s mod models. At Dolce & Gabbana, the design duo showed their sexy signature corset dresses and ended with a triumphant underwear finale featuring bra tops matched with 50s-style full knickers.


Chanel's farmyard hoedown, which culminated in models rolling in hay bales, underlined the popular theme of sex at Paris fashion week. Bouclé jackets and skirts in soft pastels, long transparent chiffon gowns with mini-dresses underneath, and lashings of more affordable hair accessories were in order. In contrast, Balenciaga featured designer Nicolas Ghesquière's sci-fi sexiness, evolved into striking sportswear in neon with multi-coloured peep-toe boots and menacing leather hoods. The afro ‑ with hair bows ‑ made a return at Marc Jacobs's show for Louis Vuitton. Described as "exaggerated" by Jacobs, the show was a melting pot of travellers, hikers, skate kids, dolls and cartoons, with an overall sporty mix of cycling shorts, backpacks and bum bags.

Catwalk of fame

Most star-studded front row Gwyneth Paltrow, Liv Tyler, Emma Watson, Freida Pinto and Peter Mandelson rubbed shoulders at Burberry's homecoming in London.

Comedy moment Anna Wintour squeezing in between Roger Federer and his wife Mirka on the Versace front row.

Jolliest moment Lily Allen performing Not Fair in the Chanel haybarn with Prince looking on.

Most unlikely guests Janet Jackson working through her grief in Milan and Victoria Beckham in a damp underground bunker for Fashion East.

Most ubiquitous celebrity Rihanna doing the rounds in Paris at Dior, Chanel, Balmain, Hussein Chalayan and many, many more.


Emma Sibbles and Simon Chilvers

The GuardianTramp

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