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A specialist in eighteenth-century French literature and culture, Weber is a fashion historian and the author of "Queen of Fashion: What Marie-Antoinette Wore to the French Revolution." She is also[…]

Alexander McQueen has an idea that could transform the age-old parades of seasonal style, says Caroline Weber, a French literature professor at Barnard.

Topic: The future of Fashion Week

Caroline Weber: I think Fashion Week definitely has to change. For two reasons. First is the fact that, indeed there is such a huge time lag between when the clothes are shown and when they hit the stores. And you constantly hear complaints quoted in the press, for instance, from retailers saying everybody saw pictures on the day after the Marc Jacobs show. Everybody that came into my store are demanding this coat and I won’t be getting it for another three or four months, or another six months. So, I think that given that fashion is such an enormous business and given that the economic stakes are so high that time lag has to be addressed and Fashion Week can no longer function in that way. For that reason definitely. The second reason I think indicates that Fashion Week has to change is something really interesting that Alexander McQueen did at the Paris Fashion Week a few weeks ago which is that he set up his runway almost as if it were a computer website and he announced so it kind of looks like each model was emerging from this pixilated screen and her image went back into infinity into this computer and he announced that his idea would be that ultimately people would be able to order the clothing online while they are watching the fashion show. And this is a function of a sort of a genius application of modern technology at its best and really eliminating the time lag, eliminating the wait, enhancing his own chances of selling more clothes. And we all know how impulse purchases work. You see it, you fall in love with it, and if you could just hit a click you’d make a lot of purchase that you might feel guilty about later. But I think that that will be the wave of the future. I think there’s no reason for designers not to do that. If the technology is there, which it seems to be, then economically it would only make sense for designers to want people to be able to buy things immediately and as copiously as possible. So I think in that sense too Fashion Week will maybe become much more interactive which I think will be very exciting.

Recorded on October 13, 2009