Phygital fashion: Valentino takes haute couture show to the circus in Rome
Italian luxury group Valentino had models suspended from swings in flowing white gowns against a pitch-black background in a circus-inspired haute couture show, live-streamed from Rome.
After being forced to cancel events, close shops and halt manufacturing during lockdowns triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, high-end fashion houses have largely ditched traditional catwalk shows and replaced them with films, videos and other formats to showcase their collections.
If a digital shift were not to be embraced at a time like this, the fashion industry in Italy alone is “expected to suffer a 20%-30% drop in revenues this year, from 67 billion euros ($76 billion) last year. So the job now is to stanch losses and maintain ties with consumers, and a spotlight on digital displays given the necessity to maintain social distance,” reported the Associated Press earlier this month.
Valentino’s designer Pierpaolo Piccioli set his Of Grace and Light fall/winter 2020-21 couture show in Rome’s famed Cinecitta film studios, working with British photographer Nick Knight who remained in London.
The event was part physical, part digital, with a small media audience attending.
It displayed 15 gowns, all pure white but for one with silver fringes, with cascades of feathers, ruffles, chiffon and taffeta. Some were even four or five metres long, to showcase the painstaking work in creating them. Some of these silhouettes took up to 4,000 hours of stitching by hand, requiring 350 metres of fabric.
On an Instagram post, the official Valentino handle explained the designs saying, “Silhouettes are made extreme in length, radicalized to accentuate the craftsmanship in every stitch.”
Piccioli told reporters on Zoom the lockdown had disrupted the availability of made-to-order embroideries and patterns but that his show wanted to send a message of hope and positivity.
“It came out at a tough moment but I believe our job is not to reflect the moment but rather react to it. Couture is made for emotions. It’s not for walking, it’s for dreams,” he said.
The men’s fashion week that concluded a short while ago also saw a virtual shift from luxury fashion brands namely Prada, Louis Vuitton and others taking up the ‘phygital’ format of fashion shows.
-- with Reuters inputs