Paris fashion week – heute couture

2020 has been a year of firsts. The first Global pandemic of the modern age. The first nationwide, government sanctioned, furlough scheme. And the first time many of us had to join a mile-long queue outside the supermarket for our groceries. Now as the world tries to grapple with a new normal, the world of fashion attempts another ‘first’.

Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week- but digital. And if that doesn’t seem mad enough, everyone’s invited, which is practically shocking in an industry that is known for its unbending exclusivity. So how did these online Haute Couture shows ‘go down’ and what were the highlights? Read on for the down-low on the industry’s FIRST ever digital fashion week.
From the 6th to the 8th of July the likes of Chanel, Dior, Viktor & Rolf and Valentino took the leap into the online, to show off their Autumn/Winter 2020 Haute Couture Collections. But this was not your standard catwalk presentation! The showcases took form and culminated into fashion films and documentaries, with aspirations to expose the narrative and influence behind the finely crafted garments, through the guise of moving imagery.

Understandably this posed a difficult task for Haute Couture designers facing cataclysmic and unprecedented change within such a short period of time. Which leads me to the Fashion Houses who took this in their stride and ultimately model the highlights of the 2020 Couture Paris ‘shows’.

First on my list has to be Chanel; classic, minimalistic, but with an added twist. We saw a line-up of models dancing against a clean white backdrop, draped in the best of Chanel. Tweed Jackets and little black dresses but re-constructed for the contemporary and mashed together to a rendition of ‘Acid’ by Jockstrap. This formed a perfect contribution from the Parisian Fashion House.
Next Dior and their video short, which I can only describe as wonderfully weird. It begins with a peep through the looking glass into the creation of the couturier garments on miniature mannequins, but then we travel into a fairy tale world, featuring mermaid’s, wood nymphs and an array of ‘mystical creatures’. Bell Boys travel with a trunk of the miniature garments and exhibit them to these ‘creatures’ of the wood. Setting aside the somewhat unusual mythological narrative and looking instead at the garments, we see a wonderful line-up of Dior Couture, elegant dresses and beautiful silhouettes. Classic Dior.

And the third and final highlight has to be Giambattista Valli, which captures the perfection of Paris with a wonderful assortment of ball gowns, puffed skirts and quirky netted head dresses. Valli uses quintessential reds, pinks, blacks and ivories to create these magnificent couture ensembles and displays titbits of Paris on film, alongside the model, who moves to music against a simple backdrop. Although these highlights are symbolic of the couturier ‘digital age’, there is so much more to see, and with YouTube as the medium, there is no excuse but to get online and start watching!

So, did this prove to be a successful ‘event’? From scouring the internet one can only come to the conclusion that feelings were particularly mixed about this new format. And you do have to take into account the subjectivity around fashions ‘clap-back’ to the coronavirus. While some cry-out for the catwalk, others are likely to be dazzled by the ingenuity of it all. I’m inclined to side with the latter and on a personal note I was particularly impressed by fashion royalty flinging their doors wide and inviting the masses to watch with them. The industry has once again claimed a robust approach in ensuring that the fanciful world of fashion is not pulled to an abrupt stop. The show will go on, digital or not.

By Natasha Dunn