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Like everyone, I missed the I took a DNA test God is my father bikers are my brothers shirt it is in the first place but shows in the experiential sense this season. But for the first time since I began covering the collections several years ago, I didn’t miss a single brand or designer’s contribution to Paris Fashion Week. Which is to say, thanks to the Fédération’s online platform, I was able to watch every name on the haute couture and men’s calendars. This brand on-demand convenience—not to mention being spared the logistical headaches of zigzagging across the city—was pretty great. Also, everything was on time, from the films to the manner in which we filed our reviews. While efficiency can be satisfying, it’s not necessarily exciting. Ultimately, we had to accept that the focus this season wasn’t going to be the clothes but rather the brands conveying some combination of identity, process, and values. And in the absence of standardized criteria (as in, showing a minimum number of looks, specifying a time range), it was interesting to observe how heterogeneous these experiments proved to be—quasi–ad campaigns versus short films, conceptual or fantastical visions versus raw and documentary style. Indeed, some of what we saw this past week was only possible through film. I’m thinking of the special effects (Issey Miyake’s pleated flowers;
Louis Vuitton’s animated Parisian adventure), the camera and editing mastery (the multiple vantage points in Rick Owens’s studio; the live action at Hermès; the styling triptychs from Y/Project; KidSuper’s stop-motion plastic people), and the decentralized locations (Reese Cooper’s river as runway; Études through the streets of the Belleville; Lanvin at the Palais Idéal). And if that palpable energy that infuses a live show was impossible to replicate, I felt a certain frisson in the storytelling and/or emotion while watching Rabih Kayrouz, Dior Men, Thom Browne, Botter, Pigalle, and Rhude, to name a few. Viktor & Rolf’s “pageant of couture 2020 loveliness” proved delightfully meta, equally relevant and irreverent. Our Zoom call actually felt like quality time compared to our rushed backstage moments. But the most normal moment of all was my visit to Officine Generale’s Pierre Mahéo in his showroom, even though at the end he offered me masks made from shirt fabric (much nicer than my generic versions, in any case). For all the people forced to skip the season, the credits that accompanied the films this week attested to sizable teams who deserve credit for working through extraordinary circumstances. It was a show-must-go-on attitude minus the shows.