Social media stars are wielding increasing power in the fashion industry; what happens when Jess Cartner-Morley trades places with influencer Doina Ciobanu?
The front row is a world divided. Montagues and Capulets, in bare legs rather than doublet and hose. Between the two blocs editors on the one hand, influencers on the other there is little love lost. Last autumn, American Vogue staffers branded the influencers pathetic, describing the job as turning up, looking ridiculous, posing, twitching in your seat as you check your social media feeds. The influencers hit back, branding their Vogue attackers as haughty and out of touch. (Get back to your Werthers Originals, was a particularly choice comeback.) We think they are airheads; they think we are fogeys. So, to find out whos right, I have arranged a job swap at London fashion week. Doina Ciobanu is 22, has 225,000 followers on Instagram (at time of writing), and attends shows as a model, VIP guest and brand ambassador. Ciobanu grew up in the former Soviet republic of Moldova, where she began blogging aged 16. She moved to Bucharest at 19, and now lives in London. For Saturday at London Fashion Week, I will do her job and she will do mine.
My job is to write about the shows. Writing to deadline frames my days and everything else designer interviews, checking out up-and-comers, analysing emerging trends has to fit around that. Doinas job is to provide online content, mostly self-portraits with fairly brief captions, some of which are arranged in collaboration with labels whose clothes or beauty products she wears in the photos. I am an expert; Doina is an avatar.