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How designers reinvented the fashion runway experience amid the pandemic

How designers reinvented the fashion runway experience amid the pandemic

Sittin on the front row of a fashion runway is soooo last season… literally. For this fashion week — or is it a month? — some designers have celebrities on Zoom to be part of a visual front row. Some even took a more creative route just to show off the designer’s pieces. Although some brands continue to hold traditional shows, a few designers have started to change runway shows during the pandemic.

How designers reinvented the fashion runway experience amid the pandemic

GCDS

GCDS’ Giuliano Calza believed that they can make digital fashion shows more fun than physical ones. For their official Milan Fashion Week schedule, the streetwear brand’s co-founder and creative director planned a digital showcase for the spring 2021 men’s and women’s collection. Last May, GCDS debuted a full range of apparel for the characters of Nintendo Switch’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Dua Lipa and Anwar Hadid at the front row of the GCDS Fashion Show

Capitalizing on this digital clothing experiment, Calza also forged a partnership with Los Angeles-based engineering firm Emblematic Group to create a full-on digital experience. Then, this leveraged the firm’s VR-enhanced technology called REACH.Love. The show must go on even with busty artificial human models walking the runway. Dua Lipa, Anwar Hadid, Chiara Ferragni, Fedez, and Care Bears avatars sat on the front row.

Balmain

Any Balmain experience remains a celebrity-packed affair. With the international contingent of the Balmain army grounded, a little creative thinking was called for. During the Paris Fashion Week, the Balmain Spring 2021 show still played physically outside in the city’s Jardin des Plantes. As the models socially distance themselves from one another in the runway, the stellar line-up of celebrities should, too.

Jennifer Lopez, Kris Jenner, Megan Thee Stallion, Alexa Chung, and Anna Wintour among others at the front row of the Balmain fashion show

In the ultimate act of social distancing as a precaution for COVID-19, celebrities attended virtually via a bank of screens replacing their customary front row seating. This includes Jennifer Lopez, Kris Jenner, Megan Thee Stallion, Alexa Chung, and of course, Anna Wintour among others. As usual, the American Vogue editor remained impassive as ever. However, others got right into the spirit as they record the action on their mobile phones just like what they would have if they were physically present.

Miu Miu

Miu Miu also fused physical experience with digital as they staged their Spring/Summer 2021 show to address unique demands during this time and the fundamental needs of the medium of a fashion show. Under AMO’s realization, the show decor remains an elliptical stadium — making it an arena of observation. “This is inherently tied with the experience of the runway show: in both, a group of people communes to not only bear witness but, in their presence, play a part in a collective moment.

Storm Reid, Beanie Feldstein, Elle Fanning, Zoey Deutch, Gabrielle Union, Maude Apatow, Soko, Alexa Chung, Sydney Sweeney, Suki Waterhouse, and Lila Moss among others at the front row of the Miu Miu fashion show

Similar to Balmain’s – In the ultimate act of social distancing as a precaution for COVID-19, celebrities attended virtually through an appearance within the stadium replacing their customary front row seating. Miu Miu invited an audience of strong women. Of course, this includes Storm Reid, Beanie Feldstein, Elle Fanning, Zoey Deutch, Gabrielle Union, Maude Apatow, Soko, Alexa Chung, Sydney Sweeney, Suki Waterhouse, and Lila Moss. Miuccia Prada set up screens that became an integrated part of the runway, making her muses part of the virtual show.

Moschino

It’s a literal puppet show — the tiniest of runway shows staged during the Milan Fashion Week. They took a COVID-19 precaution and did not have any models and/or guests present at the show. Sporting Jim Henson’s creations, Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott enlisted his Creature Shop to create the miniature set with only marionettes populating its entirety. Aside from the models being scaled down, the clothes have to be fit into perfection as well as the accessories.

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With the ongoing pandemic, fashion designers had to squeeze their literal creative juices to keep the runways alive — albeit, reinventing the traditional one. Scott also opted for a literal scaled-down show with all models and attendees as puppets. Of course, famous faces are there on the front row: British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful was in the crowd, as well as the American editor herself… Anna Wintour — who even as a marionette, looked as impassive as ever.

Personally, my favorite show for this week/month would be the GCDS and Moschino shows. Their runways remain unique and peculiar – something that fashion truly represents. How about you? What is your favorite? Let us know!

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