This article first appeared on Harper’s Bazaar Singapore.
Saint Laurent has announced that it plans to forgo its ready-to-wear show at Paris Fashion Week for the upcoming spring 2021 season and will not follow the prescribed Fashion Week calendar for the rest of 2020. The French fashion brand, and subsidiary of luxury conglomerate Kering, points to the coronavirus outbreak as the underlying reason for this decision.
“Conscious of the current circumstance and its waves of radical change, Saint Laurent has decided to take control of its pace and reshape its schedule,” the company said in a statement. “Now more than ever, the brand will lead its own rhythm, legitimating the value of time and connecting with people globally by getting closer to them in their own space and lives.”
Saint Laurent’s shows – which have been set against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower – have been one of the most sought-after and highly visible presentations during Fashion Month. Indeed, the brand’s artistic director, Anthony Vaccarello, has steeped the brand in French motifs, reflecting the nation’s attitudes in his collections. But in this time of uncertainty, when cases of the virus are mounting, resulting in the closures of businesses on a global scale, glamour and excess isn’t the message he wants to relay.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to suddenly and completely change our habits, behavior, and interactions with others,” Vaccarello told WWD. “It has had a violent impact, disguised in apparent calm. Our decision not to be part of any predefined calendar this year stems from our desire to recognize the importance of our time, of our life. A certain way of living more than a certain way of dressing. Slowing down and living the moment reveals all the vulnerabilities of an imprisoned organization. What’s out of fashion now is the schedule of the entire system: the shows, the showrooms, the orders.”
“The fact that stores worldwide have been closed for some weeks, and some production sites, too, has impacted the shelf life of collections, actually shifting to more of a buy-now-wear-now calendar,” added Francesca Bellettini, president of Saint Laurent and president of Chambre Syndicale de la Mode Feminine, France’s governing body for womenswear. “This has to be taken into consideration in the development of the next pre-collections in particular, and every brand will do it in the way that suits its offer best.”
The announcement follows Marc Jacobs’ decision to skip New York Fashion Week, explaining how COVID-19 has stunted his supply chain and production facilities, making it nearly impossible to create a collection. Vaccarello is evidently facing the same issues, along with other fashion designers who are reeling from effects of the pandemic. Labels, to be sure, have to carefully evaluate their strategies and determine if a show during Fashion Month is an effective form of communication – a quandary many hope will be short-term.
“Saint Laurent’s announcement that we will not hold events in 2020 according to the usual calendar does not in any way diminish the role or importance of Paris Fashion Week – which is, very simply, the best in the world,” said Bellettini. “Paris is where every designer aspires to show. This is not a goodbye to Paris Fashion Week, but a change that we feel is necessary in this moment and in these exceptional circumstances.”