Last week marked a step towards normality resuming for the fashion industry, as we saw Copenhagen Fashion Week take place and hold various physical events and shows. Whilst some brands still opted for a digital approach to displaying collections, many artists and designers held catwalk shows, events, or hybrids of digital and physical mediums to display their collections.
Denmark has been held up and used as an example a lot recently due to their fast and effective response to COVID-19, but what can we learn from Copenhagen Fashion Week?
Despite being such an important event due to being held physically, one of the key lessons I have taken away from Copenhagen Fashion Week is how important digital has become to fashion as a medium. The traditional season calendar had already been branded as “stale” by Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, so is the solution to go digital? Watching the online shows, two really stood out to me. Never Lost by Rains and Stine Goya’s House of Goya.
Never Lost stood out to me for various aesthetic reasons, but the location, in particular, seemed interesting. The interactive film takes place in an abandoned swimming pool, in which the old, disused facility seems to bring new life through acting as a home to a variety of bright, thriving nature. The location had a strong similarity to the strange yet familiar location of Chernobyl, which seemed oddly fitting for the environment we found ourselves in every day during the lockdown. A ghost town. A place of disaster; and yet, a place of regeneration and revival. This seemed incredibly fitting for the situation in which the fashion industry- and wider industries- find themselves in. As an industry, we need to look to revival, to regeneration, to a new way of doing things, and digital may be the answer.
The interactivity of the show also took me by surprise. You can find the full show here (https://ss21.rains.com/), and unlike other visual presentations of fashion weeks of past, it provides a new dimension to its immersion; interactivity. A criticism of prior digital presentation of fashion has been a lack of emotion. You are being shown a curated, framed, posed representation of designs, and have little control over what you see. It does not make you feel the same emotions as live events do. There is not the same spark or intensity as a live show. Although not a perfect solution, I feel that the interactivity of this show makes it feel slightly more special. I felt more involved, felt like I was part of something. As you watch the show you can change the camera, examine in detail the looks in the frame, and get behind the scenes information. Although everything was still being controlled and directed, it felt more intimate, more like you were involved as a viewer.
House of Goya also has a lot to offer when looking to fashion within digital experiences. It is portrayed as one continuous film, no cuts, and features a variety of looks from the Danish designer. The reason this film captured my attention was that it opted not to be all about the clothes, but rather illustrated the brand as an identity. Fashion is no longer as simple as appearance, and consumers are beginning to become more selective of the brands they buy into, as they wish to feel a connection with the brand and the lifestyle. Stine Goya’s work depicts this better than most, presenting something that engages with the very essence of the brand’s DNA. You do not feel like you are watching a show, but rather that you are experiencing something that is alive. The models were more than that and featured various talents such as painter Coline Marotta, activists Maja Malou Lyse and Amelia Hoy, and singer-songwriter Jeuru. These individuals became embodiments of the Goya brand, as they illustrated that Stine Goya means more than fashion. If digital is the answer to the future of fashion, brands can learn a lot from House of Goya, as it is truly an exceptional experience. After two minutes of maximalist, intense immersion, you are treated to shots of the empty set and reminded that what you just experienced was directed, staged, and styled by an incredible team.
Copenhagen Fashion Week stands as an important event for considering the future of fashion and where we may explore moving forward. It has opened possibilities for large scale events to take place again, whilst also raising questions about how much longer the traditional model can be sustained. As put by Rains’ Philip Lotko, “We seized the moment to redefine how we present ourselves and challenge the standard quo.”
A lot of the shows and talks from Copenhagen Fashion Week can be found at https://copenhagenfashionweek.com/ and they are well worth a checkout.