Since everyone is battling against a mutating virus for past months, these bywords of high fashion have been put to the test. So has its sine qua non, the lakme fashion week 2020.
In the face of restricted travel, budgets, and other resources; dipping annual sales graphs; and a tedious, unsteady easing back into ‘normal’ life, fashion weeks have been forced to recalibrate their existing practices, priorities and their very role. “These are polar times. Everything is opposite,” observed designer Miuccia Prada after her Miu Miu show in early October.
In the show, models in the label’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection, strutted across a sports arena-themed set, as numerous screens lining the walls of the set live-streamed to select viewers who watched from home. A normal viewer watching the live show would essentially be watching other viewers watch the show, as part of the show.
Confusing, yes? By integrating viewers – who, in normal conditions, would have been sitting on the front row – into the show, Miu Miu bridged the distance between the performers and the audience, foregrounding the symbiotic relationship between the two. Indian fashion shows at present cannot risk having live audiences, as we continue to report some of the highest COVID-19 rates in the world.
Globally, a move towards hybrid formats
The Spring/Summer 2021 fashion calendar, as is customary, began in New York, where the shows were almost entirely digital. In London, intimate presentations with limited audiences were popular. Then onto Milan, where there were more physical shows with socially-distanced audiences.
For Italy, a hub of early coronavirus cases which now boasts rates that are amongst the lowest in Europe, this signals a gradual return to business and an assertion of its position in the luxury world. Onwards to Paris, where some physical shows persisted, but with local audiences. Chanel showed at the Grand Palais to 500 masked guests, while the 360-degree cameras placed between seated guests at Louis Vuitton represented virtual viewers who could control said cameras through their smartphones. “It was almost like being there,” a Vogue editor observed.
Indian designers trying to gauge the future of the runway show need not look far: Shanghai Fashion Week, which ended last week, managed to put on the only fully physical event of the season with 90 runway shows and presentations.
However, designers also supplemented their on-ground programming with live streams and digital showrooms, with a view of expanding their reach to a global viewership and consumer base. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, fashion weeks across the world have been forced to recalibrate their existing practices, priorities, and their very role.
Innovations at Lakme Fashion Week
It’s a future that the organisers of Lakme Fashion Week are preparing for. “A key decision of investments this season were on actions that are less reactionary and more strategic,” says Jaspreet Chandok, head of lifestyle businesses at IMG Reliance (a co-sponsor of the event )
For designers, models, and other artists, shooting for Lakmé Fashion Week started weeks ahead. Supermodel Lakshmi Rana has been a part of India’s top fashion weeks throughout her 20-year career. “Going into the season, there was a general sense of uncertainty,” she observed. “We had no clue of what we were getting into, the kind of work that was expected of us, and how we would keep ourselves safe.
The reason why I accepted Lakmé Fashion Week was because IMG was handling all safety protocols themselves. And I must say, they did it to a tee. I needed this assurance for the safety of myself and my family.