Paris fashion enters a new era – digital couture
The Paris haute couture collections – to most fashion aficionados the ultimate expression of creative fashion – debuts in Paris on Monday morning, with the first digital season in the world’s greatest fashion capital.
Due to the pandemic, there will be no live shows. Much of the action and imagery will take place far away from the French capital. With many couturiers in lockdown at home or residences far from Paris, expect the couture to reference distant parts. Moreover, conversations with couturiers reveal that many of them don’t expect to show very many clothes.
On Monday, Christian Dior will unveil the latest ideas of Roman-born couturier Maria Grazia Chiuri at 2.30PM. And that, through a 12-minute film shot specially by Italian director Matteo Garrone – whose film Dogman won the Cannes Palme d’Or in 2018. The Dior fashion film was shot in the Eternal City, where Chiuri worked throughout the lockdown.
At Valentino, in the season’s final event, designer Pierpaolo Piccioli will explain the theme of his latest collection, which will then be presented 13 days later with a live performance inside the Cinecittà Studios in Rome.
Immediately before Valentino, happening French couturier Julie de Libran will unspool a 5-minute video made by ace DJ and sound architect Frédéric Sanchez, where she narrates how she sees her brand evolving for the seasons to come. Libran will not show new models, due to the pandemic crisis, but will explain her creative method through video.
At Ralph & Russo, Britain’s reigning couture star Tamara Ralph doesn’t plan any live models or performances either. Rather, Tamara – who spent the lockdown sketching in her villa in Cannes - will illustrate her new collection via a mix of sketches - harking back to Tamara’s early days when she sold pieces to clients from sketches – real life samples made for the season and, finally, using technology. Plus, several new looks will be illustrated using the house’s first ever custom brand avatar – whom they’ve named Hauli.
Chinese couturier Guo Pei has also prepared a video – in part to celebrate 10th anniversary show as an invited member of the Paris season. Her film will be a journey through her collection, highlighting her latest ideas – and actually worn by real models.
Despite the pandemic, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, which governs the Paris runway seasons, has a busy schedule. With 33 shows unraveling from Monday to Wednesday, showing fall/winter 2020-21 collections.
Moreover, as ever at couture, other major brands have slipped in on the season’s coattails. Like Hermès, which has decided to show its menswear at 2PM on Sunday, July 5, notwithstanding the fact that the couture season will be followed by 5 days of menswear in Paris from July 9 to 13. Hermes plans to send major editors fresh pastries on the morning of the show, suggesting some pâtisserie pret-a-porter.
Balmain, as reported, plans a cruise along the Seine showcasing classic looks from the archive as well as ideas from the house’s current designer Olivier Rousteing, on Sunday evening.
The season also includes major historic houses like Chanel and Schiaparelli; fashion forward marques like Maison Margiela, Iris van Herpen, and Ronald van der Kemp or classical modernists like Giambattista Valli, Elie Saab and Stephane Rolland.
That said, there are some major players absent. Giorgio Armani is skipping the season for the first time in over a decade; while Givenchy, which recently appointed a new designer, Matthew Williams, is also giving this season a miss. And due to Covid-19, Jean Paul Gaultier’s plan to invite guest designers to design couture as been pushed back until January, when Sacai’s Chitose Abe will debut the concept.
However, underlining, Paris couture’s continued magnetic pull – almost half the houses showing during the season are based outside of France.
May virtual couture begin.
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