For the first time in a while, Paris Fashion Week returned as a full fledged-Physical event. Not even the Omicron surge could stop the show. With all safety measures in place, the show was a success as always. But not without some challenges as expected. With raging concerns that the virus might throw a last-minute spanner in the works, Some changes were made: the Sidaction charity evening to raise money for AIDS research, which traditionally marks the end of the Haute Couture week, was postponed until July. Giorgio Armani canceled his menswear show in Milan and the Haute couture show in Paris over the latest surge in COVID cases.
Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Off-White, Stella McCartney, Miu Miu, Chloe, Givenchy, Valentino, Balmain, Vivienne Westwood, and The Row were among the 45 houses that hosted an in-person runway show during the event, which was from February 28 to March 8, as announced by the French Federation. This season, 95 houses were listed on the official calendar. Due to some necessary safety measures, some of these Fashions houses used the online streaming options to exhibit their collections, while others opted for other types of in-person events - inviting journalists, buyers, and other taste-makers to less formal gatherings around the French capital.
Many believe that we must learn to live with the virus as they do not see it going away soon, and while ‘Digital enriches the physical, it can't replace the emotion and sensory side of the runway shows.’
Many still felt uneasy returning to the in-person shows.
Jean-Paul Cauvin, director of haute couture brand Julien Fournie, among others who had to deal with the disruption of positive tests among models and workshop workers could not help but express their frustration.
"We would be frustrated not to be on the catwalk, but I hope we do not create an haute couture cluster," said Jean-Paul Cauvin in an interview.
Apart from the COVID situation, there was also a bittersweet taste to the first week, as Louis Vuitton presents the final collection from US designer Virgil Abloh, who died at the age of 41 after battling with cancer privately last November.
With the hype around the French label Egonlab, which launched two years ago showcasing a series of arty videos, it made its first foray into the official calendar. Egonlab was glad to embrace both the live and online worlds just like any newcomer as they grace the runway with a line of NFTs and Metaverse digital clothing. everyone is still looking forward to their developing partnership with footwear brand “Crocs.”
As the season saw notable returns and debuts, It also mark the first Off-White show since the passing of the brand’s founder Virgil Abloh.
“The Row”, by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen founded in 2006, had their show on March 2nd and was glad to be back on the runway. Their last show in Paris was in 2016 during the Spring/Summer show in Château just outside of Paris.
Balenciaga returned to the more traditional runway show format. Last season, its show consisted of two parts: a red-carpet turned show and a Simpson's collaboration short film.
Because of the pandemic, the fashion industry had to rethink its show formula, with some brands dropping out and others hosting digital shows, presentations, and out-of-the-box concepts. Despite some live streaming opportunities to reach more consumers this season, it appears that most designers are returning to in-person events on official calendars. Notable exceptions who were not ready to get back to the in-person show this season is Giorgio Armani, LVMH-owned Celine, and Hedi Slimane's collection.
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