Digital, “phygital,” physical—or something else entirely? As London, Milan, and Paris all prepare to reveal the calendars of their upcoming ad hoc fashion weeks, the purpose, timing, and place of the runway show format post-coronavirus has been—and continues to be—a subject under much scrutiny.
This Thursday the Camera Nazionale Della Moda—Italy’s CFDA—will unveil the full July 14–17 calendar for this summer’s mostly digital fashion showcase. Carlo Capasa, the Camera’s president, said: “The plan is that we have developed a new platform working with Microsoft, and over the four days we will have a schedule that unfolds in real time on that platform. Every one of the 35 or 40 brands showing is free to use their time as the designer wants; you can have a fashion movie, a virtual show, a physical show with a limited audience, something else—whatever the designer feels it’s right to do. Every designer is approaching the challenge in a different way, and it’s going to be very interesting to see what they do. Plus we will be showing the womenswear pre-collections for those companies that want to show them too.”
Capasa added: “Designers have been working hard to get collections, most much smaller than usual, ready for July. And maybe sales won’t be so strong because this is a difficult time across the world. But we didn’t want to miss out entirely [on] a season because a total stop would put a lot of small businesses at risk.”
Of the discussions about changing the timings of the fashion calendar in 2021 and beyond, Capasa said: “In the end the shows are a mirror of what happens in the market. So that’s where we should start, by asking when is the right time to sell the collections, for how long, and at what price?... The problem we have today is that the market has been going very fast, anticipating and accelerating everything—becoming a little bit fast fashion. And I think we should go back and rethink, with a starting point of timing and pricing in the market.”
Over the weekend in Milan came news of the first confirmed show in this still evolving restart: On July 15 at 5:30 p.m. local time, Dolce & Gabbana will present its spring 2021 menswear collection. Much of it is planned to conform to shows as they were in the Before: There will be a cast of about 100 models, photographers and videographers, and an invited physical audience of about 200 people. It will also, said the designers, be safe.
“We are planning this very carefully, working closely with health professionals, and will observe all the safety protocols,” said Stefano Gabbana. “There will be social distancing, face masks for all—also the models, if that is the correct action—temperature checks, and sanitation stations. And perhaps the most important thing is the venue.”
That venue will be open-air, in the garden campus of Humanitas University on the south side of Milan. The space came about as a result of Dolce & Gabbana’s funding in 2019 of scholarships for medical students at Humanitas and this year of further funding for research into COVID-19 led by a team of Humanitas scientists.
Also during Milan’s menswear week, Ermenegildo Zegna is expected to host a show with physical components. The runway is restarting—and it’s going to be a changed space.