It is no understatement to say that fashion week looks very different than it did this time last year. The biannual pilgrimage from jaunty New York venues to the stalwart European fashion capitals halted months ago in the wake of COVID-19 and its related travel restrictions. But it’s not all bad news: this season, rather than planning our Manolo-clad sprints across Place Vendôme, we’re already safely seated front row—on the couch. And so is everyone else.
In lieu of the traditional ultra-exclusive production of a traditional fashion show, designers have gone digital. Their shows and presentations ranged from live-streamed, audience-less catwalks to sending out lookbooks, press kits that sometimes included snacks and sensory cues for their collections, and pop-up swatch books. But fashion week has never been just about the clothes—editors and buyers have market weeks for that. Fashion week is about the story, about narrative, and about theater. It’s the chance for designers to sell the world their vision.
Needless to say, the show must go on. And luckily enough for those of us starving for fashion, five of our favorite brands presented their Spring/Summer 2021 collections in the form of absorbing short films that prove to be the next best thing to being there. From 80s Jamaican soundscapes to an Old Hollywood homage, there’s something for everyone and plenty to binge. Now, take your seat, sit back, and enjoy the show.
London-based designer Grace Wales Bonner presented her eponymous label’s spring collection with the film Thinkin Home. The sensory short follows eight young men through the lush, sun-drenched Jamaican landscape clad entirely in Wales Bonner’s award-winning designs, set against the sounds of reggae, 80s dancehall, and gospel music. Directed by Jamaican-born and Brooklyn-raised photographer Jeano Edwards, the piece was inspired by iconic Jamaican filmography, notably the 1978 picture Rockers.
For fashion die-hards, it's harder to get better than this: the much-sought-after and notoriously-private Miuccia Prada, and newly-appointed co-creative director Raf Simons, sat for a crowd-sourced Q&A at the close of their inaugural joint collection, providing a peek behind this new Prada’s black nylon curtains. The two didn’t shy away from hot topics: they touched on questions about their relationship, what it was like working together for the first time (and during a pandemic), and the importance of sustainability and inclusivity in the fashion industry. Consider this the de facto cult reference for young fashion up and comers for years to come.
An avid patron of the arts, Akris’ creative director Albert Kriemler continued his series of artistic collaborations in his latest collection, enlisting German minimalist abstract painter and sculptor Imi Knoebel in a process captured by Dutch photographer Anton Corbjin. Informed by Knoebel’s bold colors and collaged knife cuts, Kriemler developed a colorful series of looks using an innovative phosphor fluorescent fabric that glows in the dark. The film, which features some of Knoebel’s most notable works, plays with light and color to create a mesmerizing visual experience.
While Coco Chanel herself was known for her no-frills approach to design, the late Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy centers around showmanship. Chanel has always orchestrated a grand production at Paris’ Grand Palais with the help of Villa Eugenie’s Etienne Russo—indoor icebergs! An entire supermarket of CC branded products! A Swiss chalet and ski town! A beach replete with sand and real, lapping waves!—and has never fallen short of a spectacle. Now on her ninth collection, Lagerfeld’s successor, creative director Virginie Viard, paid homage to the Parisian house’s long relationship with the cinematic world and presented an Old Hollywood-inspired collection even featuring a Hollywood Hills-esque lettered sign spelling out the name of the brand. Fashion photographers Inez & Vindooh teased the collection with a black and white short film that transported Paris to Tinseltown with a montage of clips from La Piscine, Pierret le Fou, and Ascenseur pour l’echafaud.
Throughout his career both at the helm of Christian Dior and his once eponymous label, John Galliano has earned a reputation for being theatrical. Which is another way of saying: when he puts on a fashion show, don’t expect models simply strutting down the catwalk. Galliano’s collections are narrative-rich, eclectic productions fit for the silver screen. (Just check out this clip from the film Catwalk for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of him training Kate Moss for an epic outing on the runway for his Spring 1994 collection.) So it only makes sense that for his Spring/Summer ‘21 Maison Margiela collection he opted out of the traditional show set up and collaborated with famed director Nick Knight on an eerie, romantic Argentine Tango-infused film entitled S.W.A.L.K II. It’s dark, it’s beautiful, and best of all, it’s capital “F” fashion.