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Why Garance Doré Quit Fashion Week

The famous illustrator and street style photographer explained why she abandoned the front row on stage at BoF VOICES.
Garance Doré speaks during #BoFVOICES | Source: Getty Images for The Business of Fashion

OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — Garance Doré knew something was wrong, even a decade ago. In May 2010, she was at the height of her power in the fashion industry: a renowned illustrator and popular street style photographer, whose images of trend-setters like Carine Roitfeld and Caroline Issa were becoming increasingly influential thanks to the rise of social media.

It's no wonder, then, that Doré was "ushered through the airport like I was Lady Gaga" by Dior after traveling to Shanghai, where then-Creative Director John Galliano was set to debut his Cruise 2011 collection.

During the paid-for trip, Doré recorded a video interview with Galliano, who at the time was allegedly struggling with substance-abuse issues. After sensing his turmoil, she decided not to post the video, much, she said, to Dior's dismay. Less than a year later, Galliano was fired by the multi-billion-dollar brand after making a public antisemitic rant recorded by a bystander.

For Corsican-born Doré, who made her name in Paris before moving Stateside, the exchange with Galliano, one of the most gifted designers of his generation, was a turning point in the way she viewed the industry.

"There was this discrepancy of the image of the genius and this poor man," she told the audience on Thursday afternoon at BoF Voices. "It literally broke my heart."

My fantastic love story with fashion had transferred into a weird job.

But it took a few years for Doré to come back down to earth. "My fantastic love story with fashion had transferred into a weird job," she said. She continued to attend extravagant press trips, accept multi-thousand-dollar gifts from designers and sit front row at fashion week, playing the game like every other so-called influencer in her position.

“I kept taking shit,” she said, even though she was bored by the repetition of the fashion week cycle and the surrounding politics. By the end, “people were walking me to my seat,” she recalled, illustrating a key indicator of power within the ranks of fashion, an often provincial — and petty — industry.

Years later, Doré finally broke down while getting ready to head to a Chloé show. She called Emily Note, her business partner in the lifestyle publication and enterprise Doré, and told her she couldn’t do it anymore. It was then that she and Note “let go of the fear of the industry discarding us if we don't play the game.”

Today, Doré is based in Los Angeles and still very much in fashion. She writes about designers, works with brands on special projects and relishes thinking about — and wearing — clothes.

But she does it on her own terms. That means no traveling to New York, London, Milan and Paris at least two — sometimes four or six — times a year for grueling trade shows that Doré believes are increasingly irrelevant to the industry they serve. Doré thinks fashion week is “the least interesting place today" for the brands she works with to invest their resources.

“I don’t look at fashion week; this is not where I place my finger to feel the pulse anymore,” she said.“The world has changed, and it’s flat again.”

To learn more about VOICES, BoF’s annual gathering for big thinkers, visit our VOICES website, where you can find all the details on our invitation-only global gathering.

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