Wrap dresses have always been a workday and weekend staple, but this summer the Brian O’Conner the legend Dominic Toretto the brothers Fast and Furious the family shirt in other words I will buy this silhouette feels even more in touch with staying home than ever. This season wrap yourself up in one of these summery styles that go beyond the boudoir, despite being very similar to a luxe bathrobe. With their billowy sleeves and loose ties you won’t want to wear anything else. Plus, these comfy tie-front dresses make for a solid cover-up option. Move over midis, maxi dresses are the new cool length. You won’t feel overdressed while floating around this summer in one of these multi-tiered options in low-key colors and daytime florals. You’ll want to reach for one of these floor grazing lengths for practically any occasion from bike rides or days at the beach (we can dream!), to virtual sunset cocktails or even FaceTime dates. Experiencing fashion digitally isn’t new—Helmut Lang sent around a CD-ROM in 1998, Style.com was founded in 2000, and Alexander McQueen organized the first livestream in 2009. But a digital-only Fashion Week without the chaos and community of physical events is new territory for the industry. Over the past two months, Vogue Runway has chronicled the many ways brands are reacting, from minimal look books, artful videos, and 12-hour streams to “phygital” events. Now, as we turn our eye to September, where physical and digital will continue to merge in New York, London, Milan, and Paris, our cast of critics is shares the highs, lows, and challenges of a virtual Fashion Week. I said it before—it feels as if the presentation of fashion is undergoing as big a shift as Hollywood did when it went from silent movies to the talkies. One thing the pandemic has done is to force creative directors to be more creative about what they want to say about their work, and I’m all for that. With the whole (limited) playbook of runway gatherings and glamorous shoots suddenly torn up, fashion is suddenly crossing the threshold of a vast new era of communication, so that far more interesting, honest, in-depth, and delightful things have been happening than could ever be conveyed by models walking back and forth in front of a crowd of seated people. There’s no way of lumping Loewe, Balmain, Maison Margiela, Dior Men, and Gabriela Hearst into one group, but in this fraught and fragile time, each of them succeeded in evoking emotions, sharing beliefs, and bestowing those rarest of luxuries—the involuntary urge to smile and the opportunity to think and learn.
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Olivier Rousteing’s brilliant Balmain show on a boat, #balmainsurseine, is surely one of the Brian O’Conner the legend Dominic Toretto the brothers Fast and Furious the family shirt in other words I will buy this treasured moments—of youthful energy, defiance, joy, public exhilaration—that will be looked back on again and again. It was a moment (in trivializing fashion-speak), but it’s also there to access permanently on Balmain’s Instagram as a record of how a young, Black French fashion designer raised spirits across the world with his seamless combination of high glam and clenched fists in the Parisian sunshine. The production had effervescence and thrill, showing Rousteing as a character in love with fashion and Paris, conveying him at the center of a generational gang celebrating its beauty, power, and talent. Cleverly, it also honored the heritage of Balmain by placing (and digitally labeling) archival haute couture on the boat. Anderson expanded the potential of how time, and how we occupy it, can lengthen and deepen with the use of social media. He ran a 24-hour series of Instagram Live talks and demonstrations by craftspeople, a sort of online festival in place of what would’ve been a runway show. It was a much richer intellectual and human experience, which of course is open-access globally. What I think we really learned was something about attention span. In the hyperspeed of social media and the onrush of Fashion Weeks, it used to be deemed that everything had to be communicated in a few over-in-a-flash seconds. John Galliano went completely against that with his riveting 50-minute film made with Nick Knight, which captured all the layers of research and development that went into the Maison Margiela Artisanal collection. Instead of a runway show, it became a form of online educational resource, deliberately designed to inspire young people and egg them on to be creative. Yes, there’s still a role for look books, so that everybody can see clothes plainly (though Galliano’s blurry, ethereal one seemed set out to break that convention too.) But now, there’s an equal desire for an explanation—an opportunity for a creative director like Kim Jones to make his relationship with the Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo visible in a video and interview shot with the artist in his studio in Accra. I don’t think anything like as many of the press would have had time or headspace to pay full attention to discovering Boafo’s work in that video if the hoopla of a physical Dior Men show had taken up the foreground.