the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Lucy Jones ’21
The COVID-19 pandemic undeniably put this year’s Spring 2021 Paris Fashion Week to the test. With necessary 6-foot distancing, mask wearing and limited traveling, it would be an understatement to say each fashion house had its setbacks. Pre-pandemic, each show would be packed with photographers, bloggers, editors and the world’s socialites, but just as everyone else has been forced to adjust, so has the fashion industry. This year, houses such as Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga and Chloé wanted to create a physical runway show but in a new and pandemic-safe style. From creating digital seating to using socially distanced runway locations, each house added its own personal touch to the necessary precautions each had to take.
Louis Vuitton’s show was held in the LVMH department store where green screen walls and 360-degree cameras surrounded the runway. The line was ‘80s inspired with oversized jackets, pop-art T-shirts and bright-colored accessories. “This season is very new in every way,” said Nicolas Ghesquière, creative director of Louis Vuitton, days before the show. “The conditions that we’re facing are making us think differently. We came up with the idea of different degrees of presence.” The house cleverly lined the audience with phones on tripods so that the viewers who were online could feel like they were sitting in person watching the show. Ghesquière wanted to focus less on the idea of feminine and masculine clothing but to create styles that were inclusive to all. “My question this season was less about one theme; it was about this zone between femininity and masculinity,” he said. “This zone is highlighted by nonbinary people: people that are taking a lot of freedom dressing themselves as they want and, in turn, giving a lot of freedom to all of us. I found it inspiring to explore what the items are that represent this wardrobe that is not feminine, not masculine. I wanted to zoom in on that section in between.” While Ghesquière’s approach didn’t necessarily highlight the pandemic the world is facing currently, instead it shed a light on the issues that mattered to him personally, and this was what made the show so spectacular.
Instead of a physical show, Balenciaga decided to embrace the new norm of the unexpected and created an ‘80s-inspired music video. The clothes were all oversized and dark, but, similar to Louis Vuitton, the fashion house aimed to include all genders and sexualities. The music video was meant to capture Demna Gvasalia’s newfound optimistic mindset: “Because some day we will be out of this.” Gvasalia, the creative director of Balenciaga, wanted the video to show what the future may look like one day with a touch of fashion flair. “So, walks through the night, going through lots of changes, morphing into her, him, them. And they end up meeting as friends, going to a party or a club maybe — and everyone is without masks. That’s the hope,” he said. Balenciaga also consciously chose to highlight sustainable opportunities in the fashion industry by using upcycled material for 93.5% of the clothes. “There are solutions if you look for them. There’s a need to revise things — to start a new chapter.”
Meanwhile, Chloé decided to take the more traditional route with an outdoor fashion show. Natacha Ramsay-Levi, creative director of Chloé, staged her show within the beautiful courtyard of the Palais de Tokyo museum. On three massive screens surrounding the runway, live footage captured the models on the runway. The models were positioned in a candid moment only to then enter the courtyard and present the line. “It’s about showing something that’s more attentive, more spontaneous and more intimate, and taking time to look at a woman and the way she moves and acts in a much more natural way. Rather than just say, ‘OK, you should walk like this.’” Levi’s goal was to create a show that mimicked the everyday wardrobe Chloé provides its customers. The line itself was filled with playful pastels and fun florals to really capture that 2021 Spring look.
All of these houses shared a similar goal: to take the audiences’ minds away from the current circumstances and to try to look toward a brighter future or, at the least, to take a few moments to appreciate fashion and escape the pandemic.