With New York Fashion Week launching last week, the virtual shows are a harsh reality of the new world in which we are living. Fashion organizers, designers and production companies are quickly adapting to the circumstances posed by the global pandemic. This past week, I covered several virtual presentations, including Carmelo Anthony’s “A Black Future,” Claudia Li, MAXHOSA AFRICA and C+Plus Series SS21 shows through the Runway360 platform. While all these shows shined and stood out for their adaptation to the times, it is evident fashion lovers, editors and buyers are missing the traditional runway shows.
During the coronavirus, many events started adapting to virtual formats; happy hours, birthdays, weddings and now, New York Fshion Week. If these virtual events teach us anything, it is that these events are not the same.
Virtual and digital presentations open up different opportunities, thanks to the magic of editing. Designers can have a say in how they want their collections to be portrayed. Music, video effects, locations and lighting all contribute to a “show” coming to life. With venues closed and limited in-person events, scouting a location for runway shows is a challenge, and socially distance crowds make it difficult for designers to showcase their work.
A large part of the magic involved in fashion week events involve the energy and excitement only accessible with live events; think how exciting a concert would be through a computer, you might as well just watch their Instagram or YouTube videos.
As a Florida-based model, I am familiar with the buzzing anticipation, which fills the air before the start of the show. The models are nervous, all hoping they don’t trip and fall on the runway, and the designers are looking over their collection. All the while, hair and makeup artists are touching up their work because somehow, something got messed up. The production crew is ensuring everyone is in the right order and taking behind the scenes photos. The audience is snapping Instagram photos, and the photographers are setting up in the pit to ensure they are in the perfect place for photos that will be all over the web within the next few hours. This season though, with virtual presentations replacing in-person shows, that excitement and buzz are replaced with an online countdown and a short description of the designer and collection. These replacements are far from the same.
While the virtual presentations during New York Fashion Week incorporated fun elements, capturing different angels of garments and utilized digital talkbacks, the magic of in-person shows was missing; just another this COVID took from us. But if this fashion week taught us anything, designers will continue to incorporate fun ideas that allow their work to shine, and we can continue to hope for better and brighter times for future shows.