Tisci revealed his first Burberry Spring/Summer 2019 collection during London Fashion Week, but in contrast to the star-studded front rows we were expecting, it was, in fact, a celebrity-free zone.

Its a first Fashion Week over past 5+ years where we can see fashion industry protest against influencer and celebrity culture. As we have talked about previously how influencer industry is facing a burn out, so designers are going back to how Fashion Weeks used to be… buyers and editors.

In London and Milan Fashion Week we can’t see any celebrities in front rows and maybe just couple of influencers with close relationships with the brand. But Fashion is back to fashion focusing on the clothing and the art behind it.


At Marc Jacobs’ spring 2005 collection, A-list celebrities seated on metal high school bleachers at Pier 54 put on a show to rival the production that would soon come down the catwalk. Then-power couple Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony held hands. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen — at the height of their NYU-student boho phase — huddled chummily with Mandy Moore, who would also cuddle Natalie Portman in her lap. Kate Hudson rubbed pregnant BFF Liv Tyler’s belly as her dad, Steven, mingled nearby.

The scene last February at Philipp Plein’s show at the New York Public Library was a distinct contrast. It was arguably the season’s most buzzed-about spectacle, but the front row wasn’t exactly spectacular: A garishly dressed Madonna sat coolly next to Kylie Jenner and Tyga, not far from Tiffany Trump and rapper Fat Joe.

It was totally different back in the day. Catwalk front rows were once a place for A-list celebs to unself-consciously mix and mingle while taking in designs from a label they genuinely liked. Then the top seats became highly orchestrated corporate affairs, overrun with social media stars and reality TV mainstays desperate for fame and, often, getting paid tens of thousands of dollars to be there. This season, some designers are saying “Enough” with the catwalk-side circus and shifting the spotlight back to the runway.


In 2011, front-row “casting” ballooned into a big business. Companies launched by Hollywood publicists, such as Cogent Entertainment Marketing and Sho+Co (which opened in 2011), were founded with the specific mission of “celebrity procurement” and “celebrity and influencer casting and integration for global brands,” respectively.

“There’s just a lot of drama behind the scenes that no one knows about. Stars get paid an enormous amount of money — more than $80,000 for an A-lister — to come and sit front row. The same celebrities’ agents or p.r. people send out an email at the beginning of the month. They’re like, ‘So-and-so will be in town’ … Olivia Culpo … Katie Holmes. There’s just a bunch who get paid to go,” says the veteran publicist. “And it’s not just to the loser fashion shows. I’ve heard Calvin Klein and Michael Kors pay.”

Reps for Holmes, Culpo, Michael Kors and Calvin Klein all did not respond to requests for comment.

Rihanna reportedly made nearly $100,000 for attending Karl Lagerfeld’s fall 2012 show in Paris, while Beyoncé is said to have commanded similar sums. Meanwhile, D-list celebrities will net a few grand — although they can rack up cash by attending multiple shows. Reality stars in the Bethenny Frankel mold reportedly make $5,000 per show.

‘There’s just a lot of drama behind the scenes that no one knows about.’
Even if A-listers aren’t getting paid big bucks, they don’t show up for free.

“No celebrity comes to Fashion Week without all their stuff paid for,” says the veteran publicist. “Sometimes they get one designer to pay for their flight, one to pay for their hotel and then another to pay for their car service all around the city. They all kind of split it up.” But in recent years, with fashion-house budgets shrinking and consumers turning to social media stars for style inspiration, it’s become clear that packing front rows with boldfacers isn’t sustainable.

Says Alice Ryan, former public relations director at Oscar de la Renta: “That formula failed.” The orchestrated photo ops didn’t convince consumers.