The short answer is kinda. This year’s fashion calendar has been ravaged by Covid-19 and the result is a chaotic blend of no-one really knowing whether attending a fashion show is safe or knowing if flying to Paris means quarantining for two weeks upon return (if you're flying back to the UK, the answer is yes.
It has also resulted in some designers flinging tradition out the window and trying out something new altogether. Virgil Abloh, for example, elected to take his Louis Vuitton SS21 menswear collection to Shanghai and Tokyo, while Jacquemus continued with an off-schedule collection presented in a glamorous field of wheat.
To compare, the much smaller menswear season, which typically falls in June, was replaced with a “digital fashion week.” It saw brands experiment with online presentations (to varying degrees of success) in order to present their SS21 collections in lieu of a traditional fashion show. Highsnobiety's Not In Paris digital exhibition also provided a platform for brands to showcase the new garms during unprecedented times.
And now, here we are, several months later, and it appears that a hybridization of IRL and NON-IRL fashion presentations will be the MO for womenswear, too.
In light of the potential risks involved with staging a fashion show during a pandemic, it’s worth revisiting the simple objectives of Fashion Week. Firstly, press (and influencers LARPing as press and vice versa) are invited to the shows to write about them or stream them to Instagram. Secondly, buyers are there to put in orders for what they think will sell when the collections are released in approximately six months' time. Lastly, a lot of people earn a living from styling, photographing, and modeling the clothes presented, too.
As of writing, France and Italy have recently logged the largest daily spikes in Covid-19 cases since March, and the UK has reported the highest number of daily cases since May. With that in mind, it's tricky to predict if the upcoming fashion weeks will be postponed or not.
Moving forward, it seems that brands will begin distancing themselves from the shackles of an arbitrary fashion week calendar and simply present new clothes when they feel like it. The "in these uncertain times" discourse has also opened up questions about whether we still need fashion week at all — but until then, here’s what’s planned for each city for the approaching womenswear season (with some menswear showing too).
When: September 17
Who is showing: Danshan (film), Vivienne Westwood (film), Qasimi (film), Molly Goddard (film), Liam Hodges (film), JW Anderson (film), Xander Zhou (film), Bianca Saunders (film), and others.
What else is happening? Burberry is staging a co-ed fashion show without a live audience in the middle of the British woodlands on September 17.
When: September 28
Who’s showing: Wales Bonner (new addition) S.R. Studio L.A (new addition), Dior, Kenzo, Acne Studios, Dries Van Noten, Marine Serre, Loewe, Hermes, Balmain, Y/Project, Rick Owens, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Maison Margiela, Louis Vuitton, and others.
What else is happening? Virgil Abloh has left Paris to present his Louis Vuitton collections for men in Shanghai and Tokyo as part of his plans to challenge the current fashion system. These shows were the closest to “a pandemic? What pandemic?” vibe as you could get, as models walked unmasked, with the clothes being a little overshadowed by an ongoing beef with Walter Van de Beirendonck.
When: September 22
Who is showing: Fendi, Prada (digital show), MSGM, Versace, Valentino, Armani, and A-COLD-WALL.
What else is happening: In collaboration with the Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion-Collective, MFW will present “We Are Made In Italy”, an event spotlighting the work of five POC who were discovered by Afro Fashion Week in Milano founder Michelle Ngonmo. “The Fab Five Bridge Builders” will show their SS21 collections as a unique collective of black-owned Made in Italy businesses
When: September 13
Who is showing: Maisie Willen (digital activation), Sandy Liang (digital activation), Eckhaus Latta (digital activation), Tom Ford (digital activation).
What else is happening? TBD