PARIS — It’s July 2021 and fashion’s capital city reawakens for Haute Couture, the first show season since pandemic lockdowns.
BoF Founder and CEO, Imran Amed, finds a masked, excited yet nervous fashion crowd; has anything been learned from what everyone has been through?
There are questions that need to be asked aloud. Has luxury fashion, which has built a reputation on being exclusive, opened up?
Fashion’s oldest “enfant terrible”, the irrepressible Jean Paul Gaultier kicks things off. He tells Imran that those who are inclusive and open to change will thrive. “It’s a big movement going into the opening of different genders and also races. The majority is for the opening and the minority are the ones that are against it. That is a big change.”
Pam Boy, fashion commentator and editor at The Perfect Magazine, is optimistic. “As soon as we started talking about systemic racism in the industry, a lot of people reached out to me and came to realise that the question is also about, how do we want society to be?... And that is a question that fashion can answer... It’s time to open the windows. We need a fresh breeze of newness to… swipe through the industry.”
Innovative iconoclast, Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga, proves the point. This is his first haute couture week, as the legendary house stages its 50th couture showing — yet its first since its namesake master, Cristóbal Balenciaga, shuttered his salon in 1968, declaring there was no-one left to dress.
So is there? Gvasalia offers BoF exclusive access to his preparation before the show and explains why couture is actually very modern. “My mission in couture is to actually give it a second life. I heard people saying couture is dead. Who needs it?... Couture for me has something very modern in its concept because we only produce what somebody orders. This is like the most sustainable way of consuming.”
In a tough suburb on the outskirts of the city, the rising star of Paris fashion, Marine Serre, is hopeful that the luxury industry acknowledges the industry’s environmental impact and embraces sustainable solutions. “We really have to think about the planet that we are destroying every day. So I was hoping that maybe... some of the people of the fashion industry were thinking about that.”
Imran’s journey through the city of light provokes deep thoughts about where fashion is headed next and how it can hope to balance profit with purpose.
“The BoF Show with Imran Amed”, an immersive video series streaming on Bloomberg Quicktake airs on Thursdays at 9pm New York time and is available for on-demand viewing. Watch the trailer, explore the first six episodes here and stay tuned for the biweekly episode launches.