MILAN • Meet Cameron Dallas.
Despite the plethora of beautiful, memorable looks and collections at Milan Fashion Week, the autumn/winter 2016 season will easily be remembered as the one the 21-year-old social media star (go ahead, Google him) overshadowed a collective industry by just... showing up.
The native Californian's attendance at the Calvin Klein show on Sunday caused pandemonium (think Beatlemania for the YouTube generation), the likes of which not even hardcore fashion veterans had ever seen before (not even for rapper Kanye West).
Crowds of thousands showed up unexpectedly and packed in behind hastily erected barricades outside the show, hoping for a glimpse of Dallas and chanting "Cam-E-Ron".
He began his career in 2013 posting videos of himself, his family and friends on Vine for a lark. He now has 9.1 million followers on that platform, 5.99 million on Twitter and 9.6 million on Instagram.
"I did the Vines first and then I chose Instagram because the filters were better and you could post the best picture of yourself, which I figured would help my modelling career," he said of his online presence. Modelling was an optimistic career goal given that he was 1.68m at the time. In the interim, he has grown another 5cm and has sufficient recognition that millions have seen pictures of him taking a bubble bath.
He is the first bona fide Web celebrity to be seated front row at a major show, according to Vogue magazine.
All over the city, mobs have been clamouring for new social media stars.
"It's The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Justin Bieber rolled into one," said Joerg Koch, editor of 032C, a Berlin- based art and fashion magazine.
Last Saturday, hundreds gathered outside Ralph Lauren's 1941 Liberty-style palazzo, erupting in screams whenever American model and Internet phenomenon Lucky Blue Smith came to a window.
"I don't really know what it's all about," he said later of his unlikely fame.
On Sunday, hordes of young Asian women poured into Via Mozart, the road outside the Villa Necchi Campiglio, a sublimely elegant 1930s house museum that is the masterpiece of architect Piero Portaluppi (and which is the setting for the 2009 film I Am Love). Word had got out on social media that Chinese television star Wang Kai (Prince Jing of the 2015 hit Nirvana In Fire) would be attending a presentation by leather-goods powerhouse Tod's.
Unlike the fans of Smith and Dallas, Wang's had followed him in a literal sense, some from halfway around the world. Spilling onto the asphalt on Sunday, they held up mobile devices to snap photos of Wang exiting his limousine. Then some laid their heads on a perimeter wall to sob.
BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK TIMES