Is fashion week still relevant?

That question has been on the minds of many in the fashion industry. Jiawa Liu reports from Paris Fashion Week

PHOTO: LOEWE

This article first appeared on the website of Harper's Bazaar Singapore. Harper's Bazaar Singapore is the leading fashion glossy on the best of style, beauty, design, travel and the arts. Go to harpersbazaar.com.sg and follow @harpersbazaarsg on Instagram; and harpersbazaarsingapore on Facebook. The October 2020 issue is out on newsstands now.


The offerings during fashion weeks have always been inspired by - and, more often than not, reflect - current affairs and this season was especially poignant.

France's daily coronavirus cases continued to rise to an all-time high of more than 15,000 a day as its capital prepared for the first Paris Fashion Week post-lockdown for spring/summer 2021.

With social distancing as the new normal, brands experimented with new ways of presenting their collections.

For some, guest capacities were limited so physical shows could go on. Elsewhere, extravagant films were produced for digital consumption only. Then there were the "phygital" shows which were put to the test.

Some brands decided to pull out of the official fashion calendar in favour of a different pace.

Amid all this uncertainty, many questioned whether Paris Fashion Week, which ran from Sept 28 to Oct 6, should go ahead.

Here are 10 moments that reminded people that fashion week is still as relevant as ever.

Balenciaga

Balenciaga brought things back to gritty reality with a video collection filmed in iconic locations around Paris.

The pandemic has forced people to rethink how they conceptualise and produce fashion, and this collection emphasised sustainability. About 93.5 per cent of materials used were sustainable or upcycled using craft and couture techniques.

Unlike in previous seasons, the clothes were purposefully ripped, creating a juxtaposition between lived-in and craftsmanship.​

Givenchy

It is a challenging time to debut a collection as the new artistic director of Givenchy, but Matthew Williams delivered.

Charging forward unapologetically, this collection was a sampler of what Williams has in mind for the house's new direction. There was a clear expression of sexy industrial chic, which was conveyed through a reinvention of the brand's most iconic accessories.

Even without the fanfare of a physical show, viewers were left excited to see what he has up his sleeves next.

Loewe

For Loewe, Jonathan Anderson took the limitations of the pandemic as a challenge that sparked innovation.

There was no runway show, but he wanted to get the audience involved in a new way.

Instead of a simple invitation, guests received an artist's portfolio that contained life-size posters of the collection, as well as rolls of wallpaper, scissors and paint brushes, among other things. They were encouraged to become creators themselves and make their own "show on the wall".

Kenzo

The bright colours and joyous prints at Kenzo not only lifted spirits, but also echoed the struggles the world is facing at the moment. The veiled hats by creative director Felipe Oliveira Baptista referenced beekeepers' protective gear, but were also a reflection of people's oscillating feelings of being exposed and the need to be protected.

Miu Miu

For Miu Miu's digital presentation, Miuccia Prada deftly combined sportswear with feminine details to achieve a fun mix that toed the line between spin class and high tea.

Viewers were spectators at the "United Games of Miu Miu", with looks that playfully referenced tennis dresses, golfing attire and Olympic uniforms.

But the talk of the town was the runway debut of supermodel Kate Moss' 18-year-old daughter, Lila.


PHOTOS: LOUIS VUITTON, CHANEL, CHLOE, DIOR

Louis Vuitton

The most successful "phygital" show was pulled off by Louis Vuitton. While physical guests viewed a runway presentation set against a graphic green backdrop that covered the walls and floors of the Samaritaine department store, viewers got a 360-degree digital experience via "virtual seats". Instead of green screens, the show projected scenes from the 1987 Wim Wenders movie Wings Of Desire.

Chanel

Chanel offered a reminder that a fashion week is not just for presenting clothes, but also to make viewers dream.

The intrigue of anticipation was combined with beautiful set design that transformed the Grand Palais, something for which Chanel is renowned. These elements were as much a part of the storytelling as the collection itself.

To know that there were people present to live that experience - as small and exclusive as the audience was - made the dream even more vivid and seductive.

Chloe

Chloe offered a tantalising glimpse into a life that was supposedly back to normal.

Models were filmed loitering on the streets of Paris, with their images projected live onto huge screens in the show space, before they finally appeared on the runway.

Chloe's brand of rive gauche effortless chic was expressed in masterful juxtaposition of feminine and masculine designs in the most Parisian way.

Dior

Creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri delved further into interpreting the codes of Dior to create real clothes for the modern woman.

Inspired by the increased demand for comfort because of how the pandemic has made working from home the new normal, the Dior silhouette was transformed into easy pieces in cosy fabrics.

The Bar jacket gave way to roomy shapes inspired by pieces designed by Dior for Japan in the 1950s - elegant loungewear at its best.

Savage x Fenty

Though not part of the Paris Fashion Week calendar, the launch of Savage x Fenty Vol. 2 on Amazon Prime was nonetheless one of the main events of the week.

Pop star Rihanna has always made inclusivity a core value of her brand and it was even more obvious in her show. The diverse, star-studded cast -model Bella Hadid, singer Lizzo, actress Demi Moore and reality television star Paris Hilton, to name a few - represented every woman, regardless of shape, race and age.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2020, with the headline 'Is fashion week still relevant?'. Subscribe