Podcasting is finally in vogue. Not fashionable – personalities bordering on fashion, as well as publications like the Business of Fashion and your own GQ, have already made podcasts stylish. But for years podcasting circled luxury fashion itself like a shark with an overly refined palette. Everyone else in the world seemed to have a podcast – but the field remained largely devoid of capital fashion.
Until now all of a sudden. Designers took their microphones with them (well … sometimes), and their favorite speakers chat across from them in the proverbial studio. Balmain, Dior, Versace, Chanel, Gucci: they all started podcasts. Your favorite fashion brand has something to say!
Before we dive into exactly what they are saying, we need to bow to an outsider pod. Since June 2016, Maison Margiela’s creative director John Galliano has been offering a rhapsodic behind-the-scenes narration of his collections every season. Like a club kid bouncer giving a tour of Versailles, Galliano performs monologues that supposedly stand for backstage interviews and allow a press-shy genius to develop freely (and of course, give the designer and his brand more and more control ) this media paranoid industry). When most podcasts are narrated to the limit, Galliano’s is freeform: a Margiela insider recently told me the team just put him in the booth and let him spit. It’s insanely articulated.
The newer fashion podcasts are deviating from that intimate feeling of raising the taffeta curtain. They are more of a luxury than artisanal. Take Balmain’s, the newest entrant, with designer Olivier Rousteing, who gallantly guides you through the brand’s history with guests such as artist Maira Kalman, V&A photography curator Susanna Brown, and the unrivaled writings of fashion knowledge Lynn Yaeger – though everything narrated, written and written is researched by a character named John Gilligan, whose Google search history is strangely missing. (Balmain didn’t respond to a request for comment.) This is both the formula and the quagmire for these new projects: Brands want to build more excitement around them and believe that content can do the job as well as an exciting new handbag, however Your key personalities are already overwhelmed.
How did the ultimate sideline become an essential accessory for the world’s leading fashion brands? As fashion houses evolve from product pushers and dream retailers to full-fledged content creators, this is the only place they can go. Podcasts are easier to create than a magazine or even a zine (as we were shown by Bottega Veneta’s Jonathan Anderson and Daniel Lee). Still, a good one, or at least the kind most brands seem interested in, requires good production, booking high octane talent, and a lot of research.
Just look at Chanel Connects – the Chanel of Podcasts. After the impresario designer Karl Lagerfeld has disappeared and the much quieter Virginie Viard is at the helm, the company’s global director of art and culture, Yana Peel, takes over the hosting. Her show is both star studded and crossed, with big talent like Pharrell Williams and Tilda Swinton, as well as high profile A-list guys like David Adjaye and Arthur Jafa. It’s an effective branding exercise that validates Chanel’s access to celebrities as well as the nine muses and its place in the larger luxury ecosystem. A Chanel bag belongs to the art fair and to the poor of the artists. This podcast belongs to your ears.
For others, it is a strengthening opportunity. Versace recently launched Medusa Power Talks, a pre-recorded clubhouse series (…?) That culminates in a live clubhouse talk (let’s go!) In which guests – including the blonde Venus of fashion vanitas herself , Dontalla Versace – as well as Irina Shayk, Indya Moore and Precious Lee speak with Guru-like authority about being powerful. It follows on the heels of DiorTalks, whose recently launched fifth season is called “Feminism” and focuses – you guessed it – on feminism. Each season has a different host; The guru of this issue, the journalist Justine Picardie, speaks to top-class personalities such as choreographers, poets and ballerinas about the past and present of women. In our moment of ambient listening, there is no shortage of thinker types willing to marinate on the big issues.