Parsons Paris

Paris Fashion Week Spring-Summer 2021: reflections and observations

Giulia, Art Media and Technology student at Parsons Paris, shares her critical view on how some of the protagonists of this Paris Fashion Week adapted to the unprecedented historical context we are facing right now.

From the bright colors of Isabel Marant’s new collection to the elegant white of Chanel’s stage, this Paris Fashion Week shined with the colors of innovation and imagination, offering a creative response to this period of financial and social crisis.

Chloe opted for a full-online fashion show this time. As a video editor and graphic designer, I have to say that I loved how they managed to do a very successful video with just one effect: dividing the screen into three parts. Chloe showed its models in the streets of Paris and near the river bank, and then in the great Palais de Tokyo. The show began with images of models caught almost unexpectedly doing everyday actions, such as taking a photo, or chatting with friends, around the city of Paris. “The idea,” said Natacha Ramsay-Levi, Chloe’s creative director, “was to pick them up within their own intimacy of real life.” Then the video moved to Palais de Tokyo, where a classic runway took place. They kept the screen divided in three parts, which allowed Chloe to show the full dress at the center, and some details at the sides. I have to say that for as simple and short, Chloe’s fashion show was one of my favorites.

Chanel shined as usual with a minimalistic yet very elegant and effective stage, who saw at its center an at least fifteen meters tall white Chanel logo. Settled at the Grand Palais, Chanel’s stage allowed guided focus on the new collection. But the absence of social distancing between the public could not go unnoticed. In such a difficult time, each fashion show had to take the necessary measures to ensure everyone’s safety, but clearly Dior and Chanel missed the memo. Both brands did not respect social distancing in the public, which, I have to say, is very disappointing, especially coming from two of the most influential brands.

Isabel Marant created an out and out show with professional dancers. They were wearing Isabel Marant’s new collection and dancing next to the models. The contrast between the energy of the dancers and the stoic look of the models was dazzling. The dancers were absolutely brilliant and their power took Isabel Marant’s Spring-Summer 2021 fashion show to a greater level; the bright colors of Isabel Marant vibrated with the same energy of the dancers, giving birth to one of the most positive surprises of this Paris Fashion Week.

But all of the greatness of the fashion show fades when we place it in the particular historical context we are living it right now. Almost like the carriage in Cinderella, the dream of a great show vanished right when the clock of reality ticked, and people realized that there was one little, yet very important, detail that ruined everything: the dancers were not wearing a mask, and they were not respecting social distancing. The dancers were not just very close to each other, but they were very often close to the models as well, making this show unsafe. In such a complicated time, health has to be the priority, and every designer has to respect health measures. The idea of the dancers was brilliant, but probably not great for the period we are facing right now.

And right when you thought you had seen everything, here comes Louis Vuitton, that with some totally green accessories and clothes, made a green-screen based runway. Models were walking in a green covered La Samaritaine, space that will be open to the public next year. The effects offered the online public a different show, that saw the green screen become the stage for the projection of images from Wings of Desire, Wim Wenders masterpiece dated 1987. The videos contributed to the storytelling of the show, which was highly inspired by the 80s fashion.

I have to say, as a graphic designer, that even if I loved the idea, I was a little bit disappointed by its execution; the lack of attention to the details for the green screen effects surprised me. In order to make the green screen effect work well, you have to make sure that all the parts that you want to make green will actually be read as green by the computer, otherwise the video that has to replace the green screen will not be displayed correctly. And this is what happened in Louis Vuitton’s fashion show. There was one room in particular where the green screen effect did not work well because of the shadow of the chairs, which is something that you can and must control in advance. Having worked with green screens in the past, I have to say that I know it is difficult, but once you accept the challenge of working with it, you have to succeed (especially, I would say, if you are Louis Vuitton).

But the Louis Vuitton show was still fantastic and very immersive; it gave, in my opinion, one of the most—if not the most—immersive and complete experience even to the people who were watching it online.

We will definitely remember this Fashion Week, as, hopefully, one of its kind. But if the historical context is dramatic, I think Paris Fashion Week can be seen as a little ray of light in the raging storm; it demonstrated that even in hard times creativity does not stop. This Fashion Week we had the pleasure to witness how the creative minds of the fashion industry excelled at taking the restraint that the situation imposed, and using them in their favor to create something completely new and innovative, in the respect of the safety measures, as in the case of Louis Vuitton. ■

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