Before taking to their seats in the front row at the American Museum of Natural History, the Navarro College cheerleaders, who shot to mainstream notoriety following the wildly popular Netflix documentary’s debut, were escorted through the backstage area by members of the Instagram team, who were capturing content every step of the way.
But reporters who spotted the instantly recognizable Butler and Brumback, clad in their signature black-and-red sparkly uniforms — “couture” creations by Rebel Athletic — were told by Instagram that they’d have to adhere to certain conditions if they wanted to conduct an interview.
Instagram employees told reporters that while they could video Butler and Brumback walking backstage, they would not be permitted to conduct a video interview. Then, those who did wish to conduct traditional interviews were told they could not publish the interviews until nearly a week later, on Feb. 14 — essentially, an embargo.
The reason for this, an Instagram employee said, is that “Instagram brought them [Butler and Brumback]” to the show and the platform wanted to be the first to share content.
Celebrity and VIP appearances are par for the course for NYFW. In recent years, designers have often enforced strict social media bans backstage to ensure no details of a show are leaked prior to start time. However, this seems to be the first time someone — and in this case, a third party, Instagram — has attempted to enforce a news embargo on backstage content, and a week after the fact at that.
It was not immediately clear what sort of arrangement Instagram and Maxwell had regarding the “Cheer” stars — or whose idea it was to involve the Corsicana, Texas-based cheerleaders in Texas-native Maxwell’s show. But the social platform did seem to have control — or, as much control as it could have given the show was heavily documented on social media by editors and influencers in attendance — over access to Butler and Brumback.
On Sunday, the ‘Cheer’ stars were spotted in the front row yet again, this time at the Tory Burch show at Sotheby’s. Brumback wore a Tory Sport puffer in a color close to Navarro red.
The young stars have shot to fame in the four weeks following the debut of the docuseries, which highlights their junior college team’s road to a national championship. It has quickly amassed a cult following, and the stars have been on a media tour, appearing on the “Today” show and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
From the front row at Brandon Maxwell, Brumback and Butler, who had changed into cocktail attire, cheered on the models using “mat talk” — cheer parlance for uplifting speech. Some models were said to have broken composure, smiling and winking at the cheerleaders.
If only they could talk freely.