We may be just a few months into the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, this short period has been relevant enough to see the fashion industry getting out of it profoundly changed. It’s the day after tomorrow to be in question especially: the lockdown in the fashion world made the designers take a step back, and think about how to address the situation in the coming future.
The future of the physical Fashion Show has been at the center of controversial opinions for some time now, being it the most visible touchpoint, as well as the event around which the hectic production pace revolves. Moreover, the new trend of virtual shows and contents – what we have seen at London and Shanghai Fashion Weeks – is forcing itself as a questionable alternative to physical shows in the social distancing era.
At the moment, the worldwide fashion industry finds itself dangerously split into different trends. On one side, the brands upholding consolidated habits, which want to keep doing things just as they did before Coronavirus; on the other side, those brands which see the pandemic as the occasion to enter a new era in terms of fashion creation and to demolish the existing schedule by undertaking independent paths.
Dior‘s Cruise 2021 fashion show has been confirmed in Lecce on the 22nd of July. Originally intending to stage it the 9th of May 2020 with a worldwide audience, the CEO of the French maison under the aegis of LVMH, Pietro Beccari, proudly expressed through an online press conference his intention to keep his promise regarding the Cruise show, which has been just postponed -and not canceled- due to force majeure.
No audience, to be precise: there will be only the professionals involved in the fashion show set off, yet it will be digitally broadcast and open to anyone. The event will definitely support the local economy and, of course, the development and the promotion of the local craftsmanship for a global context, allowing a complete fusion between Dior and the richness of this land’s know-how. “When it comes to fashion, nothing carries the emotion of a real fashion show“, said Beccari at the press conference. “We would like with this to send a message of hope, of optimism, and for some people, rebirth after this period of difficulty“.
He’s certainly not the only one to think this way: physical shows have a powerful impact to be worth staging despite uncertainty, so much so it cannot be replaced by any other virtual experience.
“Today, people are saying only virtual [shows], but fashion is about experience… We’ve seen life through screens: flat. No taste, no smell, no emotions. Screens, I insist [have] no emotions“, said Thierry Dreyfus, from the company Eyesight with Comme des Garçons and Off-White.
“I do not believe that fashion weeks are to be stopped, they just need to be reimagined for the world we live in now“, affirmed instead Riccardo Tisci, who also confirmed his Burberry fashion show on September 17 in a fresh-air location, which will be transmitted online in real-time. “There is nothing like the experience of being at a fashion show – the energy in the room, the anticipation, excitement – it is something beautiful that I would not want to see lost. But we must recognize that the world is changing, and we must adapt and redefine our landscape through new forms of expression. Ultimately, to me, it will always be important to keep a physicality to fashion, to be able to see and understand the texture and movements of clothes, but in new ways.“
Following the same path, Fendi confirmed its physical show in September in its headquarters, and, as we already know, the same did the leading French house Chanel: the president of the fashion activities of the latter, Bruno Pavlovsky, recently has affirmed he has no intention to slow down the pace and to be perfectly at ease with the old rhythmic cadence of the fashion schedule; which means Chanel will uphold its annually six-show-schedule. This would allow the house to have the creative freedom to express each moment and to maintain regular communication with customers.
A calling for change is instead craved by many other brands around the globe. Questions arise regarding the respective role of fashion designers and their participation in international fashion weeks.
Accepting the recommendation that the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the British Fashion Council addressed designers all over the world to concentrate on two main collections annually, Alessandro Michele confirmed his decision to reduce the Gucci shows from 5 to 2 annually. Lining up against the “furious” and breathless doing and shying away from deadlines, the creative director of the Florentine fashion house said to be ready to slow down in favor of more personal expression. Co-ed shows will be scheduled then in the autumn and the spring, however, a September show is now unlikely. A live audience is in question, pending government regulations about group gatherings. For the July 17th show, instead – which will be on Milan Fashion Digital Week’s schedule – it will act as a sort of “epilogue” for the house’s old way of doing things.
Michael Kors affirmed he will not join the New York Fashion Week in September, but he will perform outside the calendar between mid-October and mid-November, in an attempt to create a more simplified approach in the sales field. His decision aligns with the trend adopted by his European colleagues, Giorgio Armani in primis -who has been one of the first to declare his intention of going towards a slower fashion, followed by Saint Laurent, which decided to move off the 2020 schedule entirely.
“I have for a long time thought that the fashion calendar needs to change“, explained Michael Kors in a statement released by WWD. “It’s exciting for me to see the open dialogue within the fashion community about the calendar – from Giorgio Armani to Gucci to YSL to major retailers around the globe – about ways in which we can slow down the process and improve the way we work. We’ve all had time to reflect and analyze things, and I think many agree that it’s time for a new approach to a new era“.