Between the absences of the parades and the new formats, the future of the sector appears to be ‘phygital’, mixing the desire to return to the physical with the possibilities of digital.
After Milan, Paris is taking over with a handful of menswear shows from Tuesday, followed by haute couture in July: between the great absences and new formats, fashion is looking for its post-Covid time. Dior, Hermès and four other brands invite the public to fashion shows for Men’s Fashion Week in Paris, at 72 houses registered in the official calendar.
In Milan, three physical parades of heavyweights (Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Armani) celebrated the beginning of the return to normal. New York will not resume until September, while the now gender-neutral London Fashion Week took place digitally. In Paris, Louis Vuitton remains virtual, as do Dries Van Noten, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Loewe and Tom Browne.
“There is a very strong appetite to return to the physical,” Pascal Morand, executive chairman of the Federation of Haute Couture and French Fashion, told AFP. But after the Covid-19 pandemic that accelerated the digital revolution “we are entering a “phygital” universe, it will not be one or the other, it will be both and it is a factor of innovation”.
After the presentation of his men’s collection on April 8 in Shanghai to “a living audience”, Berluti’s artistic director Kris Van Assche left the house. His departure coincided with Berluti CEO Antoine Arnault’s announcement that the house will now have its own calendar. Another great absentee: Hedi Slimane, Celine’s artistic director who, even before the pandemic, considered Fashion Week “obsolete”. “The ultimate character and rarity seem to me today more essential than the mandatory style exercise at a fixed time,” he said in an interview with Le Monde newspaper in January 2020.
Her last two men’s and women’s collections were presented in poetic films shot in castles in February and April.
Asked about these absences, Pascal Morand puts it into perspective by recalling that there have always been “gaps” and wants to believe that the institution is “not under threat”. “C’est la vie, there may be temporary absences”, he emphasizes, welcoming the return to the men’s calendar of Courrèges and Balenciaga in haute couture and the fact that “young brands want to come around the world”.
“While Finding Discipline”
The Brazilian designer Francisco Terra, from the young brand Neith Nyer, has preferred to withdraw from the Paris calendar. “Frustrated” after the virtual presentations, he will organize a parade in Paris on Thursday, followed by a four-day event including a pop-up store “to test customer response immediately after the parade”. “I don’t think we really need the calendar. The image of a young brand is made on Instagram, with celebrities and especially off-season,” he told AFP.
When fashion went out of business during the health crisis, Chanel’s president, fashion business, Bruno Pavlovsky called in May to “find some discipline” and get back into the official calendar. Chanel will parade in July at haute couture, an exclusive Parisian event, as well as Dior, which has just reconnected with the “physical” Thursday in Athens for a cruise collection.
“You don’t have the atmosphere”
“The idea of being able to return to the physical show makes us optimistic,” says Maria Grazia Chiuri, stylist for Dior women’s clothing, for whom maintaining the rhythm of the collections is a responsibility in the face of her suppliers and companies that affected by the crisis.
Smaller fashion houses, which mainly dress princesses from the Middle East, think it’s too soon to return to shows and prepare movies. “We are not going to parade knowing that opinion leaders cannot come from China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar or the United States. Unnecessary sums are needed to have a stage and the public behind the masks,” Julien Fournié explains to AFP.
At the moment “you don’t have the atmosphere”, says Stéphane Rolland. “I don’t miss the parades because I know I’ll find them,” he concludes.