As Paris Fashion Week is streamed, critics look to future

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FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2020 file photo, models wear creations for the Kenzo fashion collection during Women's fashion week Fall/Winter 2020/21 presented in Paris. The coronavirus pandemic has instilled extra unpredictability into the already fickle Paris Fashion Week. After first canceling the July shows for menswear and Haute Couture, the French fashion federation has now organized an unprecedented schedule of digital-only events instead. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

PARIS – The coronavirus pandemic has instilled extra unpredictability into the already fickle Paris Fashion Week. After first canceling the July shows for menswear and Haute Couture, the French fashion federation has now organized an unprecedented schedule of digital-only events instead.

Top houses such as Chanel, Dior and Hermes are set to show their new Fall-Winter 2020/2021 couture collections or their Spring-Summer 2021 menswear collections online this week — but with no celebrity guests, no Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and none of the usual frenzied media circus.

No one from the public will be allowed to see the clothes in person at all, in fact, during this on-screen-only version of fashion week that starts Monday. Some shows will be live-streamed, and others may be pre-recorded.

The federation decided this spring that because of social distancing guidelines, Paris Fashion Week — famed for its 25-centimeter (9-inches)-a-bottom seating allowances — would skip in-person shows for a season, and return to normal, or, at least a new normal, in September, barring a second wave.

“It’s uncharted waters this season, a whole new ball game,” ODDA Magazine Editor-at-Large Jessica Michault said.

Chanel is live-streaming its couture show Tuesday after piloting such an approach in its Cruise collection in June. Hermes is presenting its show as a digital “experience" on two separate days, one streamed live and the second time as a video replay.

Dior Men’s is putting on a digital show, while Dior Couture is revealing a “surprise” to editors, who will admire and review glimmering silk chiffons and diaphanous taffetas from the comfort of their couches.

Valentino, meanwhile, is going “rogue” this season by unveiling an online sneak-preview during its allotted couture slot Wednesday of what it promises to be a live performance in Rome for later in the month. It says that the later event will “bring together the human and the digital touch, creating a dialogue where neither of them will take the lead.” It hasn't said whether that means actual members of the public will be allowed to attend, or given details.