How the World Experienced Digital Paris Fashion Week
Iris Van Herpen
When Couture Week hits Paris, it seems that the whole city comes alive with a sense of beauty and sophistication. Not this year. With the global pandemic, Paris Fashion Week was experienced from behind laptops, iPhones and tablets. And attendees that were usually perched front row in the latest couture were instead sitting on their couch in their PJs. The current climate being what it is, designers opted to bring Couture Week en masse to the internet, releasing a series of fashion films that ranged from simplistic mock runway footage to mini-movies.
It was the first time that Paris Couture Week went digital and while some films (if they could be called that since they were merely simulated runway shows) fell short, others packed a powerfully creative punch. For example, with a single dress, Iris Van Herpen captured our attention for a full two-and-a-half-minute film. Which was no doubt aided in part by the Game of Thrones actress Carice van Houten who modeled the stunning gown.
Dior decided to forgo the idea of a basic runway show entirely in favor of a film that showcased the ethereal nature of their collection. Matteo Garrone’s movie Le Mythe Dior, or The Dior Myth, was a 14-minute silent film that captured the beauty and fantasy of the collection without saying a word. In the piece, miniatures of the collection are brought to magical creatures—mermaids, wood nymphs and fauns by twin porters who carry the toy-sized pieces around in a dollhouse. The fairytale creatures choose their favorite gowns and by the end of the film, are happy and free, donned in their new finery.
Other designers used the platform less as a way to showcase their collection and instead focused on a statement about the current social climate. Franck Sorbier’s couture collection, for instance, was presented in a dark film fraught with symbolism. Opening, a Statue of Liberty is bound tightly with white scraps of fabric by a well-dressed woman. Soon she’s seen running from a man wearing a beaked plague doctor’s mask before she’s caught and vanishes. With her disappearance, we see another woman running through a courtyard toward a church, banging on the door in search of sanctuary as she’s pursued by a large black horse—commonly thought to symbolize death or famine.
While Fashion Week is normally where we see artistry and creativity personified, the choice to take many of these shows digital put a spotlight on a brand’s or designer’s ability to come up with something inventive and innovative, another medium in which to showcase their creativity. While some designers fell a bit flat in the task, other’s blossomed, illustrating not only their sartorial talent but the way they create beyond fabric.