For their fall 2020 haute couture collections, designers presented their creations in a variety of mediums, from sketches to self-shot photos in their hometown. This departure from runway shows around a collection speaks to the social distance curveball thrown by the global health pandemic. Influencers, editors, buyers, and more, rightfully so, can't just waltz into a museum or some faraway travel destination to take in the couture collections in-person. Balmain was one of the few fashion houses that came close to throwing a runway gathering, though even that was limited to just its crew on a barge in the Seine river, where spur-of-the-moment onlookers observed from a distance. This couture season might be different, but we're still rounding up some of our favorite looks ahead.
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For the fall 2020 couture collection, Creative Director John Galliano presented his collection through film, captured by Nick Knight. The film, titled S.W.A.L.K, traced the makings of the couture collection by collaging narrative imagery, Zoom meetings, and documentary footage. Artisanal and atelier teams wore GoPros while drones and thermal cameras captured heat content throughout the design process. Viewers were able to see behind the iron curtain of haute couture in the making. The clothing came in muted tones of black, navy, and gray while being constructed from light fabrics such as chiffon and organza. Galliano also brought back "Recicla," recycled items that are handpicked from vintage stores by Galliano himself and then upcycled into new manifestations. Meanwhile the accessories ranged from hand-made Tabi ghillies in tweed (an ode to L'Apache, a dramatic dance associated with Paris street culture in the 20th century) to handmade sheer stockings.
For their couture collection, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren designed garments that spoke to the current mood surrounding the global pandemic. There was this one-shoulder emoji dress that symbolized all the emotional stages we've gone through, the voluminous coat with pipe-like structures sticking out (perfect for wearing while social distancing), as well as a finale coat adorned with hearts that showed unity—to name a few. All the pieces had an avant-garde twist yet still felt relatable.
Haute couture shows are generally closed to the public, but anyone who happened to be along the Seine when Olivier Rousteing boarded a boat with his crew of dancers and models, including Cindy Bruna, had the opportunity to witness a fashion spectacle. The designer opted for this festive occasion to showcase his couture looks rather than stick to a virtual-only presentation, though the latter was made available online and on TikTok too.
Chanel's couture collection was "more inspired by Karl Lagerfeld than Gabrielle Chanel" said Creative Director Virginie Viard in a press release, noting Lagerfeld's penchant for eccentricity. For the 30-piece collection, shot by Mikael Jansson, Viard did things she normally wouldn't have done in a more traditional show by having models in punk hair and fine jewelry. She described the outfits as "casual and grand."
Like many fashion houses, Dior followed suit with a digital presentation for its haute couture collection given the COVID-19 health crisis. Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri dialed into Zoom calls about the collection and the looks were showcased online. What was most impressive about the collection was that all the couture looks were made as miniature, doll-like garments. Grazia Chiuri did this to pay homage to Théâtre de la Mode, a touring exhibition during post-WWII that featured fashion mannequins one-third the size of a human scale. (The exhibition was created to raise money for war survivors and to help revive the French fashion industry.) The mini Dior outfits are unforgettable once you see them.
Schiaparelli's haute couture collection was born from Creative Director Daniel Roseberry's sketches on a park bench in NYC amid the lockdowns and COVID-19 pandemic. "The pandemic has inverted everything we knew," he said in a statement. "Everything has changed, but imagination, and the drive to create, has never been more relevant, or more profound. This collection is a tribute to that impulse to create...Someday very soon, I will venture back to Paris and hand these styles off to the Atelier. We will make a portion of these and take them around the world to share with our valued clients and stylists."
As part of the digital experience of Ralph & Russo's couture collection, Creative Director Tamara Ralph set the runway looks on a custom avatar against backdrops that fall into the seven wonders of the world category. No one had to travel, if at all, for this creative project to be brought to life.