5 March 2012
Dark secret behind fashion for celebrity front rows
The designer Nicole Farhi has shed light on one of fashion's darkest secrets: the celebrities adorning the front row of fashion shows are not always there just for the love of haute couture. Sometimes they are paid to turn up.
Knowing that they can generate publicity by having a star photographed on the front row of a show, some fashion houses or their public relations agents will pay tens of thousands of pounds for an appearance.
Whilst rumours about the practice have circulated among fashion insiders in recent years, those involved have declined to comment publicly.
But now Farhi, the French-born, London-based couturier, has become the first major designer to talk openly about it.
In an outspoken condemnation of the tactic, she tells The Sunday Telegraph's Stella magazine: "It is so unprofessional. I have never paid a celebrity and I will never do it. It's stupid.
"What do they show you in the papers after a fashion show? Not the clothes, but the celebrities who are being paid to sit at the show."
Farhi, 65, added that she was determined to expose the practice, despite knowing she would face the fury of many in the industry.
She says in the interview, to be published next weekend: "They will all hate me for it. I don't give a ---- because I think it is abominable."
Other fashion insiders admitted that front row appearance fees were becoming increasingly common, but were reluctant to discuss them openly.
One said: "It would be professional suicide for me to say anything. I wouldn't be able to tell you how much [is paid] to whom. It's all a bit cloak and dagger."
Another said that the fashion world did not want to destroy the magic for the public - "It's a bit like Santa Claus."
Some British fashion figures, however, backed Farhi.
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