Following an announcement by the Fédération de la Haute Couture on Wednesday, it has been confirmed that Paris Fashion Week will be held in person from September 28 to October 6. While it was originally speculated that the event would use a digital format not dissimilar to that of London Fashion Week, the Fédération’s decision provides welcome relief to a fashion calendar that has been somewhat disfigured by the ongoings of Covid-19.
Noting only that the event will comply “with the recommendations of public authorities,” and be “completed by the platform set up for Paris Fashion Week online,” little else was revealed by The Fédération’s announcement, especially in regard to venue choices, guest lists and the commercial production of showcased collections. The latter of which bears a significant challenge to designers wishing to use factories that have either closed, or furloughed a significant section of their workforce.
Since the onset of Covid-19, the fashion industry, much like the many industries around it, has found itself reeling from the implications of an uncertain and ever-changing global landscape. With no end in sight, and without a vaccine in tow, designers who had once used Fashion Week as an exclusive medium to speak directly to their clients have now had to revisit their prospectus; taking to virtual exhibitions featuring talks, panels and forms of visual art instead. With June and July yet to unveil its full offering in the form of digital men’s and couture Weeks, there has been little to no consensus as whether these virtual experiences will ever fully replace the favored physicality associated with an in-person Fashion Week. However, favourability might only be the tip of the iceberg.
Casting a new light on existing concerns regarding environmental and economic sustainability, Covid-19 has weakened the argument for in-person Fashion Weeks in a manner that transcends mandated social distancing. With designers struggling with limited finances and factories operating with shrunken workforces, the catwalk to consumer pipeline will undoubtedly need revisiting. All things considered, a physical Fashion Week at the end of September might provide the much needed sense of assurance that even amid uncertainty, the show can and must go on.