Haute Couture Magic Fades Against The Digital Backdrop

Traditionally, early July is the time of couture fashion shows featuring the best of the best who have managed to retain their positions in the current market and adapt to the new rules. However, due to the pandemic, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode decided to have the shows filmed.
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© Balmain

28 brands, 28 videos, and no answer to the question ‘Why?’ Why on earth would Fashion Week be held at the height of a pandemic when, to put it mildly, barely anyone cares (no one at all, to be honest)? A comparison with Aleksandr Pushkin’s A Feast in Time of Plague comes to mind. We also longed for beauty and the illusion that ‘nothing is happening’. We also wanted to escape from current world events in the hope that beauty would save the world. Have we succeeded or not?
A little bit of both. See for yourself.


‘If you cannot go to Paris, Paris will go to you!’ could very likely become the motto for the entire new Dior Couture collection. However, the concept of a touring exhibition goes back many years: fashion designers tried something similar after World War II when they created the touring Théâtre de la Mode and presented fashions that were 1/3 human size.

Matteo Garrone was entrusted with writing the story of modern times called Le Mythe Dior. It resulted in 37 brand new works which may be considered true masterpieces, unlike everything created by Maria Grazia Chiuri over the course of her career in the couture house.

The story depicts a Pandora’s box – a trunk with miniature Dior garments – that sets off on
a journey through an enchanted forest, and the brand’s customers are mythical creatures, such as mermaids, nymphs, and even snail girls.

As was already mentioned, Fall/Winter 2020 Dior Haute Couture is one of the most mature and well-conceived collections the designer has ever created for the fashion house. The 37 designs are an example of making the impossible possible.

Despite their miniature size, every garment has the same number of folds we would see on real-scale models, and even tiny zippers and concealed bustiers. The enchanted forest motif was developed in embroidery with microbeads and flower petal patterns, which created a multilayered effect. Maria Grazia reinterpreted Dior’s signature dress by manually creating a pleated crinoline element, adding several layers of flounces to the look and emphasizing the waistline with a corset.

The video of the new show garnered more than 3.5 million views in the first hours. However, there was a fly in the ointment: Maria Grazia was accused of ‘improper’ casting. That’s the present-day reality – the need to please everyone, forgetting the true aim of the haute couture world. Though, this time priority was given to the most essential things. Bravo, Maria Grazia, bravo!


Olivier Rousteing’s army was the first one to jump into action. Even before the official start of Fashion Week, the designer and his team set off on a trip down the Seine, and millions of people around the world were able to watch the show. Olivier organized a whole two-hour stream on TikTok! But it didn’t go as well as intended. The audio was lost first, and then the video went down. Nevertheless, in Paris on a large barge carrying 50 dancers, girls wearing dozens of pieces from the couture collection, and singer Yseult, things went perfectly well.

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© Balmain

The collection itself was also perfect and included both new attires by Olivier Rousteing, and vintage pieces from the brand founder Pierre Balmain and his successors Erik Mortensen and Oscar de la Renta.

As expected, the new show offered nothing extraordinary. The same mini dresses (too mini for dresses), the same power suits perfectly fitting the concept of a powerful and independent female character of the fashion story, the same baroque designs of embroidery and decorations, the same black & white palette with elegant lapels as a long-standing signature for this fashion house. Beautiful? Yes. Impressive? Also, yes. Can we call it a retrospective of a couture house with
a 75-year history? Probably, no. That would really stretch the imagination.

On the other hand, no one can accuse Rousteing of a lack of inclusiveness and diversity among his models, even if they want to. ‘I am the current creative director of the brand. Being half Ethiopian, and half Somalian, I am an example of the difference between the present and the past. You can see the evolution not only through the clothes, you can see how the entire world has changed. I think it’s a sort of a message of hope that we’ve made it together,’ says the designer and invites models of all races to his improvised dance party, focusing on innovative designs and searching for new ways of self-expression that we, truth be told, haven’t seen yet.


Collection Imaginaire is probably the most intriguing story of all those presented during Fashion Week. It is a story about nothing – something that doesn’t exist yet in reality. It is a story of an idea that may be brought into existence some day. It is a story that takes us to the very heart of the world of fashion – the process of creating looks for the new collection.

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© Schiaparelli

A mask, empty streets of a large city, an equally deserted park, a bench and a lonely man who is sketching designs for a future collection in seclusion. This could be quite a plot for some post-apocalyptic movie or TV series, but not for a fashion video depicting something sublime and beautiful.

This ‘could-be collection’ strictly follows the traditions of a couture house with a rich and somewhat absurd history. Designs from the new collection incorporate images of animals with the main image being that of a dog this time. Whether it’s a shirred dress resembling a Shar Pei, or jackets decorated with tassels like those on the Komondor – literally everything was connected to Elsa Schiaparelli’s deep commitment to nature. Familiar eye patterns showed up on dresses, jewelry and accessories. While it’s conveyed only as a sketch, every look can already be seen clearly – Daniel Roseberry fills sketches with distinct and meaningful details, such as billowing sleeves or S shapes.

About the Author: Stephan Rabimov, Editor-at-Large.
Stephan Rabimov is an award-winning American journalist and fashion critic.

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© by Sarah Jane Barnes



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