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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Chen

What to See in Fashion Shows?

Updated: May 9, 2021

It seems that nowadays there are always fashion shows happening sometime somewhere!

What is on now is Haute Couture in Paris, before that it was a series of 2018 Cruise/Resort collections in May. These two are defined as in-season between the Fall Winter Fashion Weeks (February/March) and Spring Summer Fashion Weeks (September/October) in “Big Four”- New York, London, Milan, Paris. Aside from that, more and more Fashion Weeks are rising in new cities to promote local designers and cultivate fashion business. On top, under the influential social media and fast fashion, quite a few fashion brands consider a more responsive and efficient business model, which includes adopting “see now buy now” action, combining women and men collection into one and show them out of the conventional Fashion Week calendar.

Despite my interest in exploring different forms of fashion events to discover rising designers and trends, I would not deny my big passion to fashion shows. Brands who can hold fashion shows normally are more well-established and with a certain commercial scale. Therefore, they are more resourceful to be creative in executing shows that promote the brand image and convey the designers’ message in a hope to achieve a commercial success in the upcoming season. In general, the Fashion Weeks in the “Big Four” has set their tones: New York being more commercial casual and with support to rising American designers; London has artistic mindset, avant-garde and niche; Milan is glamours yet practical in Ready-to-Wear; Paris has more extravagant and rebellious collections. This serves a basic guide for one to expect what to see in fashion shows.

People watch fashion shows for different reasons: some search the shopping idea for the coming seasons, some are interested in the front row while others pay attention to the street shot happened outside of the show. To me, aside from getting styling ideas and learning the new trend, I am specifically intrigued by the fashion show venue and how it links to collection inspiration.

Big fashion houses and brands present in the Big Four Fashion Week normally hold their fashion shows at the same venue every season. Yet in-season collections- Cruise and Haute Couture- own more liberty in choosing the show destination. For Cruise/Resort collection, it stays the longest in stores with significant business weight. It originates to serve rich people’s need in their luxe vacations and escapes. Therefore, brands who can afford to hold Cruise/Resort shows tent to invite their worldwide VIP to offer “experience” and an opportunity for an immediate purchase. Definitely a lavish location can do a good job!

Sometimes the show venues are decided before designers start their work. The decision could be out of commercial concern (for example, the space big enough to afford the number of VIP; a support to a new potential market or a new flagship in the city), to correspond to brand DNA and sometimes a sneak peep to the designers’ personal interest.

Louis Vuitton: the designer Nicolas Ghesquière is well known for his keen to architecture. Riding on the brand’s DNA as a traveler’s brand, the Cruise in these three years all take place at somewhere with strong architecture amaze.

Not all designers love to share their inspirations. Both Muiccia Prada and Marc Jacobs mentioned that sometimes design could be out of spontaneity and it is tired to make up stories to feed the media. Still, show venues and the decoration can be an index to the designers’ inner world, what they concern and what touches them emotionally.

“Dior Sauvage” at Santa Monica, California: Dior goes west! The looks show female strength and independence- mixing with softness as what the designer Maria-Grazia Chiuri claims from the previous seasons (We Should All be Feminists!)

Both Gucci and Chanel pays tribute to the birthplace of civilization even though the messages vary.

“Guccify Me” at Florence, Italy: pay tribute to Renaissance- the most powerful place for inspiration- at its heartland city Florence, which is also the birth place of the brand. When seeing the past and the present, designer Alessandro Michele realizes that nothing’s sure about tomorrow. Therefore, let’s live and love for today!

Chanel salutes to classical Greece at Grand Palais, Paris: Greece being the cradle of western civilization and the birthplace of democracy. It is said that Karl Largefeld protests against the prejudice and the conflict caused by politics today through this collection, and warns that the seeds of the future being sown in the past.

Haute Couture serves the small number of top-spending customers worldwide with most luxurious hand-crafted pieces. Couture customers are generally loyal to brands out of the emotional connection. Therefore, it’s a good strategy for brands to host couture shows at their origins to strengthen the image of brand heritage and craftsmanship.

Hope it provides a different perspective for you to watch fashion shows next time. Carpe Diem!


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