“Can I consider it connected?” The press officer who in January 2021 checks the list of guests at a certain online fashion show of the Milan Men’s Fashion Week – thirty-three, all substantially digitally – does not know that he has just given me the key to understanding what happened to fashion and its representation after a year of pandemic.
In the eleven syllables of his polite verbal expression there is all the new and the ubiquitous of online involvement and all the ancient of the selection and exclusivity of fashion. In short, the perfect oxymoron, enclosed in the invitation card which, almost always, is still sent in paper form, the last vestige of a ritual in search of new media and creative outlets, but stamped with the indication of the time zone in the call: 4 pm CET. 6 pm CET.
In the case underlying the phone call, the time zone is prohibitive for both the United States and China, 11 am CET, and therefore the voice at the other end of the line reveals a thread of anxiety. Should we Italians miss the appointment as well, the day after the event the results could be so disappointing that the CEO may decide to cut some staff. Therefore, the girl counts in a large presence to make at least “number”, but obviously she hopes that we will remain motionless in front of the computer for the duration of the event and not, who knows, in the kitchen to make us a coffee after entering the ” no room “. This, she knows as well as we know, she will never be able to verify it, but only suggest it with the greatest tact possible. Pandemic fashion is based on trust, personal appreciation and esteem like never before. It was once said that some stylists, one in particular, unleashed their staff in the room to observe who, among the journalists, was distracted during the fashion show. Those who did not adequately admire the perfect sway of a skirt or the new cut of the jacket, those who did not appreciate in silent rapture the ruffle of an evening dress or did not frantically note concepts and sensations on the notepad, would have been sanctioned at the next appointment. with a little rudeness, an unpleasant joke at a press conference, a change of seat, even a missed invitation. I never had the opportunity to verify it: maybe it was really a legend, maybe I’m very diligent.
The conversation between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons who inaugurated the digital project “Prada Possible Conversation”.
In any case, with the pandemic, the apparatus of a religious origin, I would say almost processional, which has regulated the representation of fashion collections for more than a century and that no one more than Fellini he knew how to guess in Rome, is dissolving into an officially transversal and ecumenical opening thanks to the massive use of digital platforms.
As the opportunities for meeting have disappeared almost completely, one lockdown after another, it is obvious that the desire to buy must be solicited in many different forms; all have been explored: films, games, ad hoc, ad personam, television, group, mass, world presentations. Inclusion has expanded to include initiatives that would have seemed unthinkable until a year ago, for example the online dialogue between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons and the general public on the occasion of their first creative collaboration, on 24 September. Seasonality, already rather difficult to maintain for brands that sell in both hemispheres, thus constantly covering the four canonical seasons, has dissolved into a sort of flow of creative consciousness, which brings the collections to the fore when the creative director, and the merchandising office, believe that the time has come to present them (how long this state of affairs will last when the mass of buyers and journalists will have to reorganize agendas and physical movements is not known).
Opening: frame from Nick Knight’s video for the Valentino Haute Couture event “Of Grace and Light”, A / I 2020-21.