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With most physical events canceled, are digital presentations equally successful?

Every year, especially for the stylish set, many consistently look forward to full-scale productions in fashion week events with almost rabid fervor. Apart from the astonishing collections of gigantic fashion houses, the drama on the runway is what creates a lasting impression. From Fendi’s spectacular 1,500 mile-runway in the Great Wall of China to Valentino’s $10 million-affair in Rome featuring a human aerial show, fashion presentations are nothing short of an extravagant event. But while we continue to battle the pandemic, the industry has turned to the digital landscape. While virtual fashion week events are not entirely novelty, going purely digital is unchartered territory. There are many challenges that go along with planning, and so how successful can these presentations be?

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Karl Lagerfeld stages Fendi’s 1,500 mile-long runway in the Great Wall of China with 500 VIP guests. (Photo from Lucas Dawson/Getty Images)
For Chanel Spring/Summer 2019 runway, Paris’s Grand Palais was transformed into an indoor beach getaway with a lifeguard on-duty. (Photo from Estrop/Getty Images)

Shifting to the brand identity

Fashion Week events, specifically those of New York, Milan, London, and Paris, involve meticulous planning. Each must come up with highly imaginative ways to stand out, setting the tone for the seasons ahead. The tighter the guest list and the more jaw-dropping the show is, the more it becomes the talk of the town until the next event comes along. Without the chaos and clamor involved in physical events, how do virtual shows compare?

Digital events offer a different perspective. Fashion editors, designers, style enthusiasts, and journalists can easily access events in real-time. With no current need to travel across cities and miss a brand or a designer’s show, these spectacles are now only a click away. While the online platform offers a more efficient approach, we have to admit it simply does not thrill us the same larger-than-life way physical shows do. There is no opportunity to see the garments up-close, appreciate the beauty and complexity, and of course, fawn over the collections with fellow style enthusiasts.

What virtual Fashion Week events give us instead is a brand’s culture. Through creative video effects, mesmerizing camera techniques, a montage of locations, and compelling storytelling, we get to see a brand’s heritage, identity, and values in a way that was never done before. Zoom calls with designers are even more intimate, allowing journalists to explore their vision and creative process in-depth, all without the rush of backstage moments.

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The actual look of some of the pieces in Valentino’s A/W Haute Couture 2021. (Photo from CR Fashion Book)
A screenshot from Valentino’s A/W Haute Couture 2021.

Astounding creativity

This year, we got to see sensational presentations from gigantic fashion houses. Valentino’s Autumn/Winter Haute Couture 2020 film is magnetic and breathtaking. Dresses and gowns were projected over with slow, moving elements of nature that created a mesmerizing effect. Accompanied by hypnotic music and masterful editing, we got to see the creations from an entirely new perspective.

Visual artist Amoako Boafo from Ghana collaborated with DIOR Men. (Photo from Francis Kokoroco)

DIOR Men produced a documentary film featuring artist Amoako Boafo, whose finger-painted masterpieces were fused into DIOR’s artisanship. The intimate film explored Boafo’s work and his activism to empower African artists and highlight the vitality in their art. 

Louis Vuitton presented a short film for its Spring/Summer 2021 show in August this year. LV’s Parisian Adventure features interesting, animated characters “Zoooom with Friends,” whose voyage involves exploring Paris. The vibrant characters are reminiscent of the ‘boyhood’ theme in Louis Vuitton’s collections.

For Loewe, they launched a summer festival and its Show-in-a-Box, on the brand’s Instagram and website. The festival is a series of Instagram Live talks, an audio tour in Loewe atelier, and different crafts-collaborators demonstrating art like basket weaves and the art of Shibori.

All these creative presentations are showing us what these brands are capable of doing without the chaos of executing physical events. We get to see an in-depth take of the artistic directors, the designers, and the rest of the people behind the luxury brands. Everyone may still be navigating through these virtual fashion week events but with what they have shown us so far, we are definitely not complaining.

Will this be the definitive future of the fashion runway show? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, we can always just click away and enjoy the show… from the comfort of home in our most comfortable threads, naturally.

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