IRL vs URL: What’s up with London Fashion week?

As long as I can remember, fashion week has been a staple of haute couture and the designer fashion market. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, concerns regarding sustainability, and dramatic changes to the fashion industry, designers and brands have begun to question their place in the questionable institution.

NYFW will take place almost entirely virtually. London Fashion week, however, will be the first to blend physical shows and virtual presentations. In the face of these changes, how are brands proceeding with their spring 2021 shows? The most common choice? Film.

The London Fashion week website explains the choices of the designers showing their collections, explaining that 50 will be digital only, 21 physical and digital, 7 physical only and 3 designers who will show in a physically evening event. With the vast majority of designers opting for digital presentations, it seems as though we can look forward to viewing shows virtually through film.

The interaction between fashion and film is one that is well documented. From events like the Cannes film festival to the Academy awards, the fashion moments from these events have almost the media reach of the movies themselves. We are used to seeing movies, their premiers and their stars create iconic fashion moments. We are less used to seeing fashion designers become filmmakers in their own right.

London Fashion week will open on September 17th with Burberry’s live show– just without an audience. The event will take place in the countryside and be filmed by Richard Quinn. Quinn, a designer known for feminine silhouettes and dramatic, colorful textiles, is not known for his experience with filmmaking. This choice reminds us that despite the medium in which these events will be presented, the focus is still on the clothing. Other designers, however, are more interested i the creativity this new medium allows them.

Designer Erdem Moralioglu who presented a full resort collection in June will present his September show by film as well. “We also started to experiment a little with film with resort 2021 which was shot during lockdown, and now I’m looking forward to pushing what we can do creatively further, finding new ways to tell the story of the collection,” Moralioglu said in an interview with Vogue.

As Fashion week evolves along with the fashion industry, fashion lovers get to experience a world in which shows are live streamed and available rather than invite only and exclusive. Instead of reserving collection previews for buyers and critics, live-streamed collections allow the consumers themselves to preview the work of designers they love. These changes to the fashion industry not only benefit the filmmakers of the fashion industry, but it benefits anyone interested in seeing shows who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. Check out the livestream schedule to see which shows you might get to watch right alongside the usual attendees of these shows.

Gillian Bressie

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