When AW20 fashion month came to a close at the start of March, the fears surrounding the future of the fashion industry and the unfolding coronavirus pandemic were significant. The possibility of it being the last ‘normal’ fashion week we’d ever see were very, very real.
Fast forward six months, and happily, fashion week is still going ahead. But this September’s showcase is an entirely different fashion month to the ones we’d recognize. Embracing the hybrid format seen at Copenhagen Fashion Week in August, mixing socially-distanced physical showcases alongside digital presentations, films and talks, as the new season is unveiled, here’s the lowdown on the SS21 shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris.
New York Fashion Week
September 13-16, 2020
Explaining that the Covid-19 pandemic has had “an unprecedented impact on American fashion, slowing down the supply chain and temporarily shutting down many business operations and brick-and-mortar retail”, the Council of Fashion Designers of America announced it was allowing brands the “flexibility to show their collections in a variety of formats and at a time that works for them,” with the launch of its Runway360 digital platform, a tool that will be used not just for fashion week but to complimenting physical events and shows in the future.
Running for four days instead of the usual six, New York Fashion Week starts today, September 13, and will see a reduced number of designers taking part. Dipping out of the schedule completely are powerhouses Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Proenza Schouler, Telfar, Brandon Maxwell, The Row, Pyer Moss, Michael Kors, Vaquera, Christopher John Rogers, Batsheva, and Prabal Gurung.
With restrictions in place to ensure that NYFW is in “strict compliance” with New York State health and safety guidelines, all outdoor events will be capped at 50 guests, while indoor events will be at 50 percent capacity with no spectators.
Returning designers include Alabama Chanin, Alice + Olivia, Anna Sui, Badgley Mischka, Bibhu Mohapatra, Carolina Herrera, Chromat, Claudia Li, Dennis Basso, Eckhaus Latta, Jonathan Simkhai, Marchesa and Marchesa Notte, Marina Moscone, Naeem Khan, Nicole Miller, Rebecca Minkoff, Veronica Beard and Zero + Maria Cornejo.
Jason Wu will kick off the SS21 schedule with a live-streamed experience for an ultra-exclusive group of VIP’s in socially-distanced attendance on the rooftop of Spring Studios. The inaugural event will be followed by a digital-only Harlem’s Fashion Row gala.
Taking its cues from the British Fashion Council’s approach to its digital men’s shows in June, which encouraged designers to contribute with any kind of format, in place of a collection, Caroline Herrera will screen a conversation between its creative director, Wes Gordon, and its namesake founder on Monday 14.
On September 15, an array of digital slots will be devoted to New York’s menswear designers, who normally get their own short fashion week, before runway veteran Anna Sui unveils her collection in an online presentation.
The final day, September 16, will see Eckhaus Latta stage a live-streamed presentation followed by Tom Ford – chairman of the CFDA – releasing a look book online.
With ten new names added to the schedule by the CFDA, Aknvas, Anne Klein, Colleen Allen, Dur Doux, Duncan, Frederick Anderson, Frère, Imitation of Christ, Oak and Acorn, Venice, Wiederhoeft, and Wolk Morais will complete the New York line-up.
London Fashion Week
September 17-22, 2020
Featuring both menswear and womenswear brands, London Fashion Week’s schedule has been split into three sections: ‘Digital’, ‘Physical’ and ‘Digital and Physical’
Kicking off with Burberry’s live-streamed show, the brand promises the opening event to be an immersive experience that pays homage to the “purity and simplicity” of the British outdoors with the aim of exploring a new space for its community to “reconnect with nature and each other”.
Of the 80 designers included, 40 womenswear, 15 menswear, 20 menswear and womenswear and 5 accessories brands will be featured as part of the official London Fashion Week schedule.
With the majority of designers doing digital activations only, designers including Vivienne Westwood, Matty Bovan and Edward Crutchley will show digital film presentations, while Raeburn and Nabil El-Nayal are taking part in the British Fashion Council’s conversation series. Some 30 designers and brands, including Victoria Beckham, Eudon Choi, Molly Goddard, Bora Aksu, Mark Fast, Osman, and Pronounce, will host a catwalk, salon show or presentation.
Meanwhile, Christopher Kane, Erdem, Roksanda, Simone Rocha, Temperley London, Halpern, Emilia Wickstead, and Edeline Lee are to hold appointments, with Bethany Williams hosting an exhibition.
Upholding London’s reputation as the emerging talent fashion capital, the Graduate Fashion Foundation has confirmed a six-day activation to showcase the best work from each of the foundation’s member universities. Running throughout the week, there will be a four-day public view, followed by an industry private view on the final two days, allowing new graduates to begin conversations and establish connections with potential recruiters, buyers, stylists and media.
Closing London Fashion Week are physical appointments at Erdem and a fashion film by Richard Quinn on the digital schedule.
Milan Fashion Week
September 22-28, 2020
Featuring both menswear and womenswear, Milan Fashion Week is being dubbed a “phygital fashion week” with a blend of 28 physical shows and 24 digital ones.
With Raf Simon’s debut Prada show on September 24 the most hotly-anticipated physical show of the week, Italian powerhouses Fendi, Versace, Giorgio Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, Salvatore Ferragamo, Max Mara and Marni will join the list of those presenting in real life, while brands including No. 21, Sunnei, Drome and MSGM, Missoni, and DSquared2 have decided on digital showcases only.
Missing from the schedule entirely are Gucci, which announced in May that it would be planning just two yearly “off calendar” presentations, alongside Jil Sander, Bottega Veneta and Moschino.
In another first, Giorgio Armani’s shows will host no guests, instead showing the house’s mainline SS21 collection as a catwalk event broadcast on primetime Italian TV, while Emporio Armani will present a special video featuring models, actors, singers, dancers and figures from industries connected to the brand’s community wearing the collection.
New talent will be in the spotlight on the final two days of the event, with the Milano Moda Graduate show staging collections from students from Italy’s top fashion schools on September 27 and 28.
Paris Fashion Week
September 28 – October 6
The first to announce its return to the physical format, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode confirmed that 88 brands will showcase on the official Paris Fashion Week schedule, with 25 set to stage presentations and the remainder to be split between physical and digital events,
Launching the week is Japanese brand Mame Kurogouchi, with Chanel, Dior, Balmain, Chloe, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Stella McCartney, Lanvin, Loewe, Thom Browne, Giambattista Valli, Elie Saab, Acne Studios, Kenzo, Mugler and Nina Ricci all showing their SS21 collections before the week comes to a close with Louis Vuitton.
With numerous absences from the schedule, including Valentino, who are instead showing at Milan Fashion Week, Kering brands Alexander McQueen and Saint Laurent have bowed out of spring/summer 2021, as has Céline, Off-White, Lemaire, Rochas, and Comme des Garçons, who has announced it will unveil its collections during mini-shows or presentations in Tokyo between October 19 and 23.
However, 10 new labels are joining the line-up for the first time, including British designer and 2016 LVMH Prize winner Wales Bonner, French labels Ami, Ester Manas, Mossi, and Vejas, US brands Enfants Riches Deprimés, Gabriela Hearst, and S.R Studio LA.CA, as well as Danish brand Cecilie Bahnsen and Georgian label Situationist.