Fashion Business reports: February 21
The haute couture, menswear and lead in to the second season of international collections during the pandemic, was furiously busy. Lessons learnt from the previous months, plans to adjust and shift to meet the new methods of working were important to the success of brands, labels and designers everywhere. After the American elections there seemed to be political unrest everywhere, and disagreements regarding vaccines, lockdowns and the importance of masks, in every country. However, there is one major important thing, and that’s the requirement to be optimistic. Fashion drew on this with many thoughts, ideas and looks; fabrics, colours, silhouettes and creative communications concepts abounded. The reports highlighted and commented on as many as possible, plus continuing to bring news and updates on fashion, and the business of making and selling the product.
Couture in the time of COVID 19 & other matters.
If in January 2020, you had predicted, not only a global pandemic, but also that a year later we would have our second entirely online digital couture fashion week, I would perhaps have thought you crazy. However, here we are January 2021 and everyone had to observe the now, no proper audience( although Chanel held out as late as possible and had a few celebrities scattered across the huge empty spaces of the Grand Palais)Films and online presentations were the only method of showing the new collections, budgets from colossal to minuscule were flourished and designers and their teams went for either runway based fairly straightforward presentations or an inventive location and narrative film.
We have grown used to the digital schedule, the extras of interviews and so on, added across the week whilst the options to re watch several times and make decisions on the merits of every detail, from models casting to soundtrack is actually rather marvellous.
Certain key elements were in evidence, and these elements also add to the reason a couture week is still a strong event, and why couture in a variety of forms, survives even during the global pandemic.
Firstly craft, artisan and skills. The heritage model of Paris ateliers has moved into broader perceptions of the actual construction of the pieces with multi cultural influences from batik to local embroideries entering the couture repertoire. The idea of more time has led many people to embrace a craft, a skill or a method of passing the hours in lockdown which actually produces a tangible result.
Limited edition, make less, make better, know the life cycle of your garment; all this means couture answers those questions very clearly.
Up cycling and the use of dead stock, limited quantities, unrepeatable fabrics, etc. has become a key tool for couture.
Innovation; at a time where we stay at home, work from home, and exercise clothes have become the main part of our dressing style, our wardrobes, and our few clothing purchases. To see wonderful pieces, to see designers expressing their ideas and talents through the couture week is reviving to the spirit, offers hope for the future and reminds us we will be drinking cocktails, disco dancing, attending premiers or simply going to a birthday party, eventually.
There is much other news continuing in fashion, since this is the start of the season there should be. This report notes those other pieces of news, alongside the same mantra we have expressed since issue one. Business and fashion will continue to be important; how it continues through the global pandemic, and how it eventually changes is part of these reports, tracking and tracing those shifts and changes, noting what is happening every week and encouraging all of us to keep informed at every twist and turn.
Things we're talking about:
- Loris Azzaro
- Franck Sorbier
- Charles de Vilmorin
- Yuima Nakazato
- Rahul Mishra
- Imane Ayissi
- S.R. Studio LA CA
- Rochas new designer appointment
- Alaia new designer appointment
Exactly this time last year the first real warnings of a new virus appeared, by the time Paris Fashion Week ended many were flying home early. The end of the four week marathon was a time of cancelled appointments, rescheduled flights and early departures. It was only as the months past that the realisation that many had contracted the virus during the fashion weeks, and that some had been violently ill, emerged. That was then.
In April last year plans for these weekly fashion reports were hatched. How could we help students with news and information, how could we bring optimism to such extraordinary times? Now forty issues on we can see how the industry responded and is continuing to respond. It’s a huge business in the world, from the first threads to the final packaging of the garment to the customer. Fashion has moved forward in so many ways during these days, weeks and months.
Today, a year on, we are looking at the second season online, without live audiences( except in the odd weird case?) and where the entire concept of showing thirty or forty outfits over fifteen to twenty minutes has been discarded. Online is short and snappy, a taster or simply a promotion for the main collection. Look books, online appointments and specific information not popped up onto YouTube of Vogue Runway is now to be found taking its place in the fashion business system.
It’s “access all areas”, but only up to a point, and that’s absolutely correct. The general public doesn’t need all the information or every outfit listed to be shown to them. A well balanced collection has fabric options, colour ways, sizing, cost prices, delivery dates, minimum orders, etc. The entire system of buying and selling a collection isn’t what the average fashion lover needs online. The idea of fashion weeks and the catwalk as a promotional tool has been true for a long time. Many buyers don’t make lists at a runway show, or even in some cases go. They want to see the pieces, feel them see the fit on a house model or simply see the collection without the hoopla and razzmatazz of a show. Buying is a serious business and although the glamour is fine, in the end they’re buying a clothing product.
So, issue 40 looks at the start of the season's collections. The first thing that is apparent is the organisation is totally fluid. Victoria Beckham isn’t on the LFW schedule and in fact popped her video of the collection up ten days before the event. Gabriela Hearst showed her menswear collection when she was ready, and so it continues. True many stick to the “rules”, but do those rules actually apply any longer? If your show is online do you need to be part of the schedule and pay the organising body to register and be listed? How many hits do you get on the official website as opposed to IGTV? It’s all a question of balance and changing times, and most certainly changing rules. When this season is over and the reviews and analysis are taking place we may see changes which will last for more than COVID times.
Things we're discussing:
New York Fashion Week
Sustainability Stella McCartney - London
Atelier Versace - Milan
It’s an exciting time of change, new methods, shifting criteria, fresh modern approaches and creative innovation in the heritage world of fashion.