Though it was something to see Simon Porte Jacquemus’s spectacular runway in a French wheatfield all those sweeping aerial drone views and to feel the Black cat daddy vintage shirt and I will buy this poignant emotion as three young Italian tenors sang live at Dolce & Gabanna’s socially distanced men’s show in Milan, ultimately this season proved that there are so many more options for effective, compelling, and long-lasting ways of capturing what fashion’s all about today. Those who’ve experimented with media to say something genuine and personal during the pandemic Gabriela Hearst’s video of riding with her sister in California and her honest spoken-word statement about sustainability stick in the memory are for certain pointing towards a more open, intelligent, and progressive future for the way we view fashion from now on. There were a couple of digital Fashion Week experiences that added real value to their real-time Fashion Week equivalents. A long chat with Walter Van Beirendonck in which he ran through his rationale and showed off his miniature looks was one. Mihara Yasuhiro’s thoughtful and hilarious puppet show was another. Undercover’s 3D look book pointed to the gamification of the fashion-buying business. On the whole, though, my conclusion albeit from the privileged perspective who someone who usually gets to go to physical fashion shows is that while digital assets can be complementary, they will not make real-life fashion shows obsolete anytime soon. Rick Owens’s decision to put himself and Tyrone Dylan Susman in his video lookbook was effective, but as we discussed it over a Zoom pre-stream, it was hard not to lament the missed the real Rick show that this replaced. Also: It was a pity that Miuccia Prada’s last solo collection was reduced to a series of videos that were perfectly fine but inadequate substitutes for what her last show would have represented. There is another country in the Sinosphere that you didn’t mention, and their history with their traditional clothes is similar. I am, of course, referring to Vietnam. When you think of Vietnamese traditional clothing, the first thing that comes to mind is an Ao Dai. The good news is, the Chinese have started to embrace Hanfu recently, which corresponds to China’s rapid rise in the world. You can see a lot more people wearing Hanfu today, and it is acceptable to wear on all occasions. One last thing though. Wearing of hanbok and kimono is still very much a minor thing in Korea and Japan. This is simply because T-shirts and sweatpants are just so easy to wear.
That was why when we did get to reality shows, Etro and then Dolce & Gabbana plus Jacquemus later in France, it was wonderful. Clothes are all about contact: As a wearer, you feel them on your skin, and as a watcher, you process them with your eye. The watching part can be done secondhand, but the Black cat daddy vintage shirt and I will buy this impact will always be second to the real thing. I read some commentators in the U.S. saying, “Too soon” or “Wear a damn mask!” which I always did, but these opinions while valid enough lack perspective. Milan and its surrounding region Lombardy went through what New York did but earlier. Through sagacious governmental management much more effective than that of the U.S., Italy has managed dramatically to flatten the curve across the rest of its territory. These shows just like the reopening of flights, stores, factories, and restaurants were symptomatic of recovery that, far from being taken for granted, is being tended to with vigilance and cherished with gratitude. The digital Fashion Weeks were better than no Fashion Weeks at all, but as an upgrade on the real thing? Nah. Like everyone, I missed the shows in the experiential sense this season. But for the first time since I began covering the collections several years ago, I didn’t miss a single brand or designer’s contribution to Paris Fashion Week. Which is to say, thanks to the Fédération’s online platform, I was able to watch every name on the haute couture and men’s calendars. This brand on-demand convenience not to mention being spared the logistical headaches of zigzagging across the city was pretty great. Also, everything was on time, from the films to the manner in which we filed our reviews. While efficiency can be satisfying, it’s not necessarily exciting. Ultimately, we had to accept that the focus this season wasn’t going to be the clothes but rather the brands conveying some combination of identity, process, and values. And in the absence of standardized criteria as in, showing a minimum number of looks, specifying a time range, it was interesting to observe how heterogeneous these experiments proved to be quasi–ad campaigns versus short films, conceptual or fantastical visions versus raw and documentary style. A proper kimono takes nearly an hour to put on – I’m sure most Japanese girls would much rather spend a few seconds and slip on a dress. Get survey responses from targeted consumers today.