The Fall 2020 Haute Couture Show That Stole My Heart
Due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic, fashion houses had to get particularly creative in order to present their collections this season. In the absence of traditional fashion shows, many couture houses took this opportunity to explore new territory with their “remote presentations”. The House of Schiaparelli was only able to provide sketches by creative director Daniel Roseberry (pictured on the left) and produced a short aspirational documentary that followed the designer amidst his design process while he roamed the streets of Paris. Under the direction of Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior produced a Tim Burton-esque short film featuring the house’s creations in a scenario featuring mythological and fantastic characters. Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino partnered up with the Roma Cinecittà to create a surrealistic and dreamy virtual production featuring extraordinarily long dresses shown on models hanging from trapezes.
I’ve found that being constantly immersed in the fashion world can sometimes mean observing own feelings getting duller at the sight of shows. As one gets more knowledge of the industry and spends years watching the runways, it can become difficult to marvel at any designer’s collection. To make matters worse, we live in a digital age where billions of fashion images are available at our fingertips. The more we see, the more we want: we expect to be surprised and inspired. We desire to feel as though we’ve just witnessed the perfect combination of unexpected but also long awaited for at the same time, the right balance of known and unknown.
This season the Viktor & Rolf line presentation really re-ignited my enthusiasm, despite the gloomy times fashion has been going through. With their beautiful video titled “Change” (below), I felt like my eighteen year-old self again, sparkles in my eyes as I attended my first couture show in Paris. As the film starts, the first musical chords, solemn yet soft, hit as the lights turn on and you will feel swept away from wherever you currently are to sit at the front row of this review. Singer songwriter Mika’s articulated prose interrupted by his impeccable pronunciation of the French couture terms sound like poetry over the beautiful waltz in the background. His campy commentary, reminiscent of couture shows of the 20th century, helps us to understand better the meaning behind each outfit. The waltz playing in the background is at once nostalgic, catchy but also soothing.
Each garment gets a full visual review, complete with a few close-up shots and a slow motion twirl by the model before exiting, letting us appreciate the fabric textures and draping over the body as if we were there. And the humor! “Confusion already reigns at the shoulder line of this nightgown” is how one of the satin gowns is introduced. Enough said. Finally, as if it couldn’t get any better, Mika utters the words “Change is the only constant” - a hint of wisdom to close off this show. The video ends on an uplifting and sweet, yet unachieved feeling with a sustained note leaving us longing for more.
Haute Couture is about celebrating the craftsmanship of fashion design and garment construction. Viktor & Rolf’s format this season makes you wonder why we ever traded the slow line presentations for runways full of models quickly pacing back and forth before we even have time to catch a glimpse of the construction details.
Somehow Viktor & Rolf also managed to acknowledge our condition as humans in this film: we are creatures of emotion, we all need and deserve love and finally, we still desperately need things to make us smile during tough times.
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