Shortly before COVID-19 fears swept through Fashion Week this spring, runway production maestro Alexandre de Betak was already re-examining his business model. Famous for his transport work for Dior, Rodarte and Jacquemus, de Betak issued a statement declaring that emissions must be smaller, more sustainable and more digital. The pandemic has only accelerated these mandates. “Due to environmental concerns, I am currently focusing on testing new digital platforms,” says de Betak. “But by next year, we will be very happy to have experiences again, albeit more intimate. [ones]. ”
The question of what these redesigned catwalks will look like is one that has plagued the entire industry and accelerated existing conversations about changing the catwalk system. Between the carbon footprint of international travel, elaborate single-use sets and a schedule that many designers deem insane, the status quo could benefit from an improvement. In Milan, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele announced he was dropping the traditional program for good, while in New York, Michael Kors, Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren stepped down from the regular NYFW program. (Paris Fashion Week is proceeding, on the whole, as expected at press time.) Some of the most innovative ideas emerge from young talent eager to embrace new technology and less tied to the idea of a traditional show. Anifa Mvuemba hosted her recent show for her line, Hanifa, practically via Instagram Live: The clothes appeared in 3D, moving across the screens of tens of thousands of viewers, as if worn by invisible models. And instead of having a show in the fall, Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss will be showing a documentary, American, too, in a drive-in cinema.
Others feel that fashion shows as we know them are, in the long run, here to stay – albeit with some changes. Giorgio Armani was one of the first to jump into action in February, avoiding physical guests at his show and quickly moving to digital format. “I believe there will always be a place for a performative approach to fashion, where you show your work to the world. What form this takes, in the end, is the question here, ”says the designer. “Going virtual is not a good solution, I think… What I am sure is the need to do less and to do it better. Going forward, I think brands will give careful thought to hosting lavish events unless there is a real reason to do so.
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This article appears in the September 2020 issue of ELLE.
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