The Online Runways of Fashion Week

For 2020, fashion shows have joined the modern version of our offices and schools. The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated many restrictions on large gatherings, so revamped online livestreams and videos have been the main source of information for post-coronavirus ‘spectators.’ Still, the shows went on.



Paris, London, Milan, and New York City remained the locations to tune in to. Each host location had been struck differently by coronavirus, but new and old designers alike were able to show off their new collections. London Fashion Week consisted of digital delivery and small live shows. Highlights include the denim adorned Burberry trench coats modeled off the traditional runway; Burberry chose to instead present new styles in a forest. While livestreaming fashion shows is certainly not a new concept, Burberry overhauled their show for over 30,000 viewers by adding four hosts; Bella Hadid, Rosalía, Erykah Badu, and Steve Lacy. Simone Rocha chose to showcase her self-named brand live to small groups of spectators. Her collection featured ruffled dresses and exquisite cloth, something she felt needed to be appreciated in person.



New York permitted larger audiences at outdoor shows, though still this was just a fragment of publicity that brands would want. Cautious Governor Cuomo limited indoor runways to half capacity and barred spectators from such events. In London, online-streamed shows reached audiences worldwide. Pandemic, protests, and politics were not enough to dampen the electrifying colors, sequins, and prints from brands like Tom Ford looking to promote escapism through clothing. Despite limitations on attendance, shows have only become more inclusive. Models of all ethnicities and sizes displayed dazzling new styles, and the ease of viewing combine to allow any fan to connect.


Paris Fashion Week also had few in-person shows, leaving many critics complaining about the difficulties of email interviews and low stream quality. Still, industry giants like Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga had the platform to make topic statement pieces about the importance of voting and the struggles of lockdown life.

In contrast to other locations, Milan held more than 20 physical shows. Fendi used the runway to display family themed collections, utilizing models Penelope Tree and Yasmin Le Bon to showcase elegant and matriarcal styles. Prada’s anticipated everyday uniform collection was streamed from a set containing an abundance of cameras to capture every detail and angle. Reflecting themes from other designers, Versace turned to a surreal underwater world for inspiration. These events were well received, especially as young brands like A-Cold-Wall* gain a foothold with accessible streamed shows.


Audience members at each show, and some models, covered their faces with the hottest accessory of 2020. Face masks have become a necessity for health and some designers have taken to creating matching mask and dress sets. Both Chanel and Louis Vuitton presented excellent 80s throwback designs. Overall, the events were dominated by a contrast and playful escapism and statement pieces reflecting current political and social climates. Despite the lack of hands-on events consumers can enjoy a plethora of behind the scenes and recap videos. Spring/Summer 2021 Fashion Week certainly was not expected or ideal, but it did create the opportunity for brands to explore a variety of new sets and delivery methods.