There was a time when a pre-cocktail show area or lounge at a fashion week would be flooded with socialites and people-who-matter (editors, buyers, bloggers). However, over the years, the pre and post cocktail dos have seem to have lost their charm. Today it's no longer chic to chill at the bar before or after the show. Most guests leave the venue as soon as the show gets over.
Sujata Assomull Sippy, Fashion columnist
I think a pre-show cocktail is a great way for entertaining. It's a feel good factor and also generates PR value. However, one shouldn't do it routinely because it loses its momentum and it doesn't add anything to the fashion credibility. It maybe good for fashionistas but for fashion reporters, it becomes a bit of a drag especially if the alocohol is not great. I think a pre-show cocktail or post-show party should be in sync with your brand style and imagery otherwise, it can be counter productive, if it's not well executed. Now-a-days people get a sponsor and they are like, 'let's do it'. There was a time when designers hosted these after-show parties at their homes and one actually looked forward to attending them and now they've been replaced by these funny cocktail thingies.
Pria Kataaria Puri, Designer
When LFW started, the pre-cocktail venue used to be a fab area to hang out for buyers and socialites. However, since the last two to three years, cocktail lounges are not up to the mark. I wonder what the sponsors are achieving? I remember, Anil Chopra used to be particular about the food and the quality of champagne being served. Today's it's not cool enough to hang out at such areas because they don't serve good alcohol. Also, the show gets over in 20 minutes and people rush out. Also, most designers avoid doing it since they only get the area for 30 minutes. It's pointless to do something which has no thought.
Anjana Sharma, Fashion Director, stylista.com
I haven't been to the pre-show cocktail lounges for the last two to three seasons. I think the pre-cocktail was started for a very practical reason. It was meant to be a place for the international buyers to hang out during the day between the shows and also to avoid crowding the entrance area. Also, in a city like Mumbai where people have to travel a long distance to attend a 20 minute show, it makes sense. Also, if there are celebs coming in, it's a captive area for PR images. People who approach fashion show as entertainment, a 20-minute show is a cheat.
We always host a press how cocktail for a very simple reason. All our VIP guests are in one place and we can usher them to their seats easily when the show is due to start. As for post-show cocktails, we do it only if we are the last show of the day so that we can celebrate the show. During fashion week, as a seasoned designer, one gets many offers to host a party. It depends not just on the venue and the quality of the offer but also the convenience of guests and media to attend and most importantly... If there is a brand fit between the designer and the party. As a designer, just hosting a show is stress enough. Ideally, I leave someone else to host the post party. After facing so much media and the very public appearance of a show, I prefers retire to a private home with close friends than stay in the media scrutiny.
Yes, pre or post show drinks are to entertain the guests, give them something to do between shows. But even if it was a standalone show, it makes sense to serve alcohol as it puts guests in a better mood. The latter part to your question had a much simpler response - doesn't attending shows and meeting people for five continuous days and then another five a few weeks later become a drag? But there's no alternative for most guests - they have to attend the shows! And everyone has their groups of friends and people they like talking to during the fashion week while also getting a chance to discuss the shows and other goings on in fashion. It's the social side to the business of fashion, where more business happens than in the stalls.