Starting in March 2020, following the end of the Fall 2020 fashion month season, fashion shows have mainly gone digital due to the global pandemic. But fashion designers, it seems, have had a lot of time to practice and think about how they can make a digital format more interesting. The Spring 2021 month kicked off in early September in New York and followed in London, Milan, and finally Paris. And while the majority of designers opted for digital activations, editorial videos, and special at-home deliveries in place of traditional shows, some labels abroad decided to host in-person runway shows with social distancing policies. The rule of thumb? If you’re going to have a fashion show in 2020, it has to be distinctive. Here, we’ve rounded up the most unique moments from the Spring 2021 fashion month.
Since Kate and Laura Mulleavy started Rodarte in 2005, the label has become extremely well-known for whimsical gowns in beautiful settings. In place of having a traditional runway show this season, the designers had their collection—full of pretty pajama sets, more casual gowns, robes and even sweatsuits, photographed against the majestic California hills. For California-based designers, it made perfect sense to have these new creations highlighted with a background of dappled light, greenery and serene mountains.
The Spring 2021 season for Prada was memorable in many ways. This was, of course, the debut of the design partnership between Miuccia Prada and now co-creative director Raf Simons. As memorable as the reinvented logo tops, egg-shaped coats and reinterpretations of what today’s modern uniform is (which, as it turns out, is straight and narrow trousers and clean silhouette logo tank tops) was the live-streamed presentation. Without a live audience, Prada sent models, all new faces who had never walked in a show before, down the runway with robotic-like cameras who followed them in a monochromatic golden-hued yellow space. The effect was surreal, and as if that wasn’t enough, the design duo closed the show with an intellectual Q&A session, answering questions from fans. It was a rare opportunity to see how the minds of two of the fashion world’s most important luminaries thought about working together in 2020.
Moschino has a knack for creating physical shows with a sense of drama, and this season was no exception. Except for the fact that the brand decided to create a film in lieu of a catwalk show. Moschino shrank its clothing down to puppet-size proportions, and had marionette models walk through a salon-like space in typical runway style. The “show” featured a few fashion world cameos from real life (think: Anna Wintour sitting in the front row and familiar model faces walking the runway as marionettes). The marionettes were created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and the clothing itself took on a more subdued, slightly couture-vibe this season. All in all, it felt like a fun, lighthearted and extraordinarily creative solution to having a fashion show during a pandemic.
Sometimes, a beautiful and simplistic set speaks for itself. For the Spring 2021 collection, Kenzo opted to show an in-person runway show against the backdrop of a beautifully, lush Parisian garden. It was only creative director Felipe Oliveira Baptista’s second collection for the label, and he played off the idea of bee-keeper uniforms, showing models in couture-like veils that sometimes stretched to ankle-length hemlines. Models walked a gravel pathway surrounded by tropical plants, as guests socially distanced and spectated.
Dries Van Noten
For Dries Van Noten’s Spring 2021 collection, the designer directed a series of artistic photographs and an editorial video. And while plenty of labels have created videos in place of in-person shows, what made Dries Van Noten’s presentation truly stand out was the artistic collaboration and one single fact: it was the first time he had ever done something like this, since the brand is notorious for never having any visual ads. Iconic Dutch photographer Viviane Sassen created images that wholeheartedly felt more like individual statements of art than exercises in promotion of clothing. The on-the-verge-of psychedelic imagery played with lucid color, texture and proportions--exactly what the designer’s Spring 2021 collection addressed through clothing.
For the past few seasons, accessories brand Roger Vivier has staged immersive fashion week events where guests can interact with live, eccentric performers while viewing the new season’s wares. Creative Director Gherardo Felloni wanted to capture that same feeling while still being safe under the new social distancing guidelines, so he recreated the effect digitally. French actress Isabelle Huppert starred in a digital version of the Hotel Vivier, playing the role of six different characters that each represent a film genre (Fantasy, Crime, Comedy, Horror, Animation, Thriller). The interactive aspect of the video made this fashion week presentation feel both modern and enticing—all with the same quirky, high-fashion aesthetic (lots of cats, drama, and couture-like shoes) that Roger Vivier’s real-life events bring.
For Spring 2021, Loewe decided to send giant, supersize artful images from the collection which could be used as wallpaper to plaster all over their personal spaces (scissors and wallpaper paste were included) to a special selection of guests who normally attend the in-person show. All over Instagram, influencers and editors alike showed how they utilized the DIY art paper in their own personal homes. The brand called it a “Show-on-the-Wall” and the project was created in collaboration with British artist Anthea Hamilton. And for those that weren’t lucky enough to receive the wallpaper kit, Loewe also created a video with creative director Jonathan Anderson speaking on the process of this season’s show.
Film seems to be the medium of the moment for the ever-expanding fashion show, and for Spring 2021, Schiparelli created a mini movie that was about equal parts process and detail. The video shows artistic director Daniel Roseberry sketching the new collection, models in the process of shooting the look book, and of course, the final imagery. With a new collection full of the surreal jewelry Roseberry is making his signature, plus textiles full of unexpected qualities like faces rendered in lace or metal piercings, the video felt like a peek into the mind of one of fashion’s most compelling rising talents.
Focusing on the cross between digital and physical, for its Spring 2021 virtual show, Miu Miu recreated an elliptical-shaped pink and white sports stadium complete with roaring cheers. AMO designed the space and seamlessly integrated the audience (friends of the brand who watched the show the day before on their computers) into the digital venue. Models wore a mix of sequined jackets, reinvented sporty tracksuits and vibrant hued sweaters that recalled the codes of the brand. Miu Miu also launched an Instagram filter inspired by its show venue, so that viewers at home can see themselves in the digital show venue.
Chanel is well-known for having a dramatic set. Even during the pandemic, the brand decided to stage an in-person show. Set in the usual Grand Palais setting in Paris, this season’s set was a giant Chanel sign rendered like the infamous Hollywood sign. Models walked below the massive sign wearing clothes that evoked the modern Chanel aesthetic, with flashes of inspiration taken from the golden age of cinema.