Burberry is the first big brand to set a date for the SS21 season.

As Riccardo Tisci told WWD the show will be held on September 17, on the eve of London Fashion Week that will take place from 18 to 22 of the same month, but will be visible only digitally, just like the show organized by Giorgio Armani at the end of the last Milan Fashion Week. It will be an outdoor fashion show and will have as its theme the English outdoors life and that, in line with the two previous fashion shows of the brand, will be certified Carbon Neutral with all measures to reduce its environmental impact. Any remaining issues will be offset through Burberry’s Regeneration Fund. There will be models, stylists and make-up artists but no audiences.

“It will be a physical presentation that is open for all to experience digitally. As humans,  we have always had a deep affinity to nature.  I wanted to celebrate these feelings by bringing our community together in a creative experience that takes place within the beautiful, natural landscape of Britain.” – Ricardo Tisci

The presentation of Burberry’s SS21 collection will be part of that strand of phygital shows that is probably the first step of fashion out of quarantine and towards the normality of pre-coronavirus physical shows – a new format.

At present, the new phygital format, in the form of either a pre-recorded or live-stream show, is the only room for manoeuvre that brands have for their presentations. It is difficult to assess the goodness of the new format. This will be visible in the coming weeks. In any case, it is safe to assume that the big brands will have both creative and financial resources to elevate this format to the level of video-art if they wish: given the lack of audience and the relative brevity of a show, there are no limits to the ways and locations in which a digital presentation could be shot, set or modified later with CGI.

Other benefits would also be the low carbon footprint and the relative breadth of audience achievable through this new form of digital content.

Fashion shows remain trade-related events and buyers would still need to visit the showrooms of the brands to place their orders. Among other things, the fashion shows were “open to all” and visible on YouTube and live-streaming for years before the Covid-19 and it is not exactly clear what this “democratization” invoked by many designers talking about formats such as live-streaming of the fashion show actually consists of.

Also, on a more content-related note, the relative flop of the presentation for Chanel’s latest Cruise collection in terms of attention and media relevance, which some critics say was nothing more than a glorified lookbook, pointed out that, extrapolated from its own microclimate made of glitterati, first rows and fashion week, fashion shows and presentations attract little attention from the general public. In short, everything leads us to think that as soon as the health restrictions are lifted, fashion weeks will return to be exactly what they used to be: phygital and live-straming are half measures for which fashion is evidently not yet ready.

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