THE SHOW MUST GO ON: The Return of Paris Fashion Week
The pandemic has forced us to redefine the magnetic, dynamic world of fashion that we once thought to be undisruptable. Fashion has historically been a dialogue between artist and audience; it is a communication, a form of storytelling above all else. And fashion week? It is the biggest spectacle of them all.
But with the pandemic, both normalcy and the magic of fashion week came to a startling halt. Designers over the past year have tried to bring back the same excitement, but even then, most agree that the digital age cannot usurp the power of fashion week. And true it is!– as Paris, the heart of fashion, announces that fashion week will be returning in person later this year.
But what is the magic of fashion week? And why aren’t designers able to use digital media to tell their stories?
The dawn of the pandemic brought with it the strange sense of solitude. Stories that dwelled on communication ceased to exist for a brief moment in time. Still, fashion reinvents itself to reflect this contemporary society and the uncertain times we are currently in.
Over the past year, designers and brands have experimented with documentaries, fashion films, and live streams for brands runway shows and seasonal collections. Designers have redefined the way one experiences fashion by making runway shows accessible, unique and visually hypnotizing. However, over time, digital fashion shows began to lose their charm because of the lack of intimacy with the audience. Designers weren’t able to create a true connection. And so, they began to experiment and innovate to further portray their story.
Clothing that’s instrumental in expressing what fashion is all about takes on a newer, deeper meaning. Clothing that’s part of a performance, adds drama and impact, creating an everlasting connection between artist and audience. As virtual shows began to lose their spark, designers set out to explore technology as a medium to exhibit fashion.
- Explored their exhibition through invisible 3D models– a feat that was deemed ‘groundbreaking’ by Independent UK.
- recreated the heart of fashion week– the audience, by playing live videos of sensational guests on giant TV screens. These TV screens were set up where the audience would traditionally be– seated in rows by the edge of the runway.
- turned to childhood whimsy to tell their story. “What I’ve really loved about this year, as much as it’s been a challenge, is that I’ve found the romance in fashion again,” reflected JW Anderson in an interview with Vogue. The collection was showcased using paper dolls to create a nearly fantastical exhibition.
- tells a story through a dream-like fantasy: the brand used marionettes instead of models for their show. “How can I give you that whimsy, that magic, that fantasy [of live shows]?” mused Jeremy Scott in an interview with Vogue.
- explored a ‘show in the box’ exhibition, and sent their audience an archive of their process; with colour cards, inspiration booklets, fabric swatches, and pop-ups of a would-be runway set. It also included a cardboard record player, complete with the soundtrack.
- showcased their ready to wear collection through morphing gifs of her collection to animals.
- SS21 collection was exhibited through a fictional olympic-style game event, named the Lunar Games, and models walked down staircases of the stadium wearing the designer’s pieces.
Technology and Storytelling
While it’s true that fashion and technology will forever be intertwined, after a year of exploring technology and digital media through fashion week, designers believe that fashion week’s true future lies in its roots. Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing noted in an interview with Vogue: “I think the future is all about physical, real emotions. We do need digital to stay connected, but I do not believe digital is the key to creating emotions.”
The strange disconnect between artist and audience over the past year has been impossible to ignore: a sentiment that is shared by designers, editors, and fashion enthusiasts alike. In an industry that depends upon the creation of a connection between the two, the return of in-person events for fashion week seemed almost inevitable.
The Return of Paris Fashion Week
Forbes noted that it’s easy for an audience to tune out a digital fashion show if they are disinterested, something that seems almost impossible to do so in person. Moreover, an editor at Vogue agreed that in-person fashion week can never truly be replaced; citing that it’s difficult for editors to understand a collection if they can’t view it in person.
As restrictions in Paris were lifted, brands like Coperni explored socially distanced fashion shows in unconventional ways. Coperni’s Meyer & Vaillant created a drive-in fashion show for their collection– quite similar to a drive-in theatre. Guests were seated in their cars and models walked through the maze, illuminated entirely by headlights, joined by a soundtrack played in individual cars via bluetooth.
Designers are continuing to return to the halls of Paris Fashion Week for in-person shows and other countries are beginning to follow suit with Rakuten hosting a live runway show for Tokyo Fashion Week earlier this year.
Cities transform with the arrival of fashion week brimming with excitement as a silent countdown looms in the air. Fashion week promises both editors and fashion enthusiasts not just innovative design, but also innovative communication. Fashion week promises a spectacle. It promises magic.
We at ÀLA.HAUSSE are committed to providing fashion lovers with a multifunctional ecosystem in which they can practice more sustainable consumption habits. Via ÀLA.HAUSSE‘s Multi-functional and Multi-purposeful Fashion Ecosystem- BUY/SELL/RENT/LEND/ (swap BETA 2021) mobile application, INDIVIDUALS & brands ( BETA 2021) are encouraged to REBUY, RESELL, REUSE and UP-CYCLE their personal “Clossets” aka Clothing Assets, along with overstock inventory and samples. Through this consumerism habit shift we indirectly slow down the urgency on fashion’s carbon footprint, aiding sustainability as a whole.
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Originally published at https://alahausse.ca on June 22, 2021.