The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the fashion landscape — from the way we dress to how industry giants operate, including how they showcase their collections. Haute Couture Fashion Week, the first major fashion event that pushed through after a slew of cancellations, was unlike any other we've seen. No photographers bustling around, not a single influencer taking an outfit snap, and no glamorous after-parties. This year, everything happened on the web; it was a digital fashion week for the very first time.
All shows were streamed online and anyone with a laptop and a strong enough internet connection got a front seat. Some brands like Dolce & Gabbana chose to stick to the traditional format of having models parade their pieces. Their Alta Moda collection, which is usually showcased on a catwalk set-up in some far-flung place in Italy, was instead filmed in their store at Palazzo Dolce & Gabbana and uploaded on Youtube for everyone to see.
Alexis Mabille followed the same path. However, the French fashion designer hired only one model to do the job. It could also allude to the fact that, while making the collection, he was strapped for resources and had to work with what he had in stock as lockdown made it challenging for him to order new materials. In a giant box-like hot pink backdrop, model Louise Lefebure strut down the runway in glamorous looks inspired by classic Holywood style.
Film is the future
But what caught us by surprise were the out-of-the-ordinary and highly creative presentations. To showcase Christian Dior's Haute Couture Autumn-Winter 2020-2021, Maria Grazia Chiuri commissioned Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone (known for his works Gomorrah and Tale of Tales) to create a short surreal film called Le Mythe Dior. "It was very clear from the start that my reference needed to be tied to the dream or fantasy world," she said in a behind-the-scenes video, where she explained the concept was born because they can't do a "real show" and therefore they decided to go with the extreme opposite of reality.
She also shared that the film is an ode to the Théâtre de la Mode in 1945 where dolls wearing miniature versions of haute couture pieces were sent all over the world to promote the message that the art of Parisian couture is still very much alive and kicking even in dark times.
In an unanticipated move, CHANEL participated in digital fashion week by taking the music video route and having models dancing and swaying to the beats of Acid by musical duo Jockstrap. The collection is very much inspired by the rock scene of the late '80s with era-appropriate embellishments, metallics, and big ruffles. Current creative director Virginie Viard noted that it also took cues from Karl Lagerfeld's "18th-Century interior design phase", according to WWD, which explains the lengthy hems and billowing a-lines.
As for Balmain, it traded a catwalk for a cruise. Olivier Rousteing, the house's creative director, had models showcase the brand's design archives on a boat cruising along the iconic Seine River for anyone nearby to witness While models posed, a live performance by French singer Yseult served as the background music. The whole thing was live-streamed on Balmain's Tiktok account and you can still snippets of it here.
Paris, World, we are stronger than ever together. It was very important to make this accessible to all. Thank you for the support ##balmainsurseine♬ original sound - balmain
Which of these brands do you think had the most creative showcase during this first-ever digital fashion week?