Video won’t kill the catwalk, say critics of first digital fashion week

Agence France-Presse . Paris | Published: 23:06, Jul 10,2020


Video may have killed the radio star, but on the reaction to the first ever digital Paris fashion week, the queens of the catwalk can breathe easy.

Forced online for the first time in its history by the coronavirus pandemic, brands both in haute couture and the Paris men’s fashion week presented videos of their collections instead.

While some had seen this as the advent of a long overdue opening up the cliquish salons of the fashion elite to the masses, the digital revolution has somewhat fallen flat. 

‘The runway can’t reopen for business soon enough,’ quipped Bridget Foley of the industry bible Women’s Wear Daily, who like many felt the online shows -- which end Monday -- lack the buzz and razzamatazz of the real thing.

‘Oh Lord, how pretentious are some of these film shorts,’ she wrote. ‘This digital fashion week is making the live show model feel plenty relevant, and even essential.’

Front row fixture Diane Pernet was not impressed by the early offerings either.

‘I am sorry, I think they can do more,’ the Paris-based American critic and curator told AFP.

‘I am all into digital, but it is not doing it for me,’ she added.

But Laurent Coulier, head men’s buyer for top French department stores Galeries Lafayette and BHV Marais, could see upsides.

‘The great advantage for us compared to a normal fashion week is the time we save,’ he told AFP.

Rather than the mad race across the French capital from one show to the next ‘we can see them all every half hour online. Sometimes in a normal fashion week with the transport and meetings, it is difficult to get a global view of what is going on.’

He also liked how some labels, like Y/Project and the young Paris brand Egon Lab had used their films creatively to show the uniqueness of their clothes. 

Coulier said the films were very useful calling cards ‘giving us a good view of brands that we have not been working with already... so we can go and see them in their showrooms.’

Still even he admitted digital lacked the magic of a live show.

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