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In London, a 100% virtual Fashion Week in a confined country

London Fashion Week began on Friday in a totally digital format in a country in full confinement by the coronavirus pandemic, and with a novelty, the fluidity of the genre.

Last year around this time, thousands of people had come to see the designs of Victoria Beckham or Vivienne Westwood, just before the pandemic hit the UK.

This time, everyone can follow the event from the comfort of their home.

Another change is that this Fashion Week, which runs until Tuesday, is no longer dedicated to women’s fashion, but is now “gender fluid”.

A trend that dominates Harris Reed, 24, a promising youngster who caught the attention of stars like pop singer Harry Styles.

For his first collection after graduating from the prestigious Central Saint Martins school, Reed unveiled six outrageous looks on Thursday, having fun blurring the line between masculine and feminine.

Bethany Williams, a 31-year-old British woman committed to the environment, recycled blankets to design colorful unisex coats as part of a collection exclusively for high-end Selfridges stores.

But it was fashion veteran Paul Costelloe who opened the dance. To celebrate his 35 years of participation in London Fashion Week, the Anglo-Irishman recalled his early days in Paris, in the late 1960s, with bold colors such as ocher, orange and blue.

If the virtual format leaves room for creativity, and some take advantage of it to reveal the backroom of their profession, such as the British Edward Crutchley, others remain faithful to the catwalk.

Thus, the Turk Bora Aksu took over the London art museum Tate Britain. Models paraded in long dresses adorned with embroidery, romantic silhouettes inspired by revolutionary France and the mathematical Sophie Germain (1776-1831), who struggled to find her place in a very masculine world.

“Sophie’s isolation allowed her to find the ideas that would guide her for the rest of her life. In this way, she showed me that even in the darkest moments, there is always hope, if one decides to seek it,” explained Bora Aksu.

– Impact of Brexit –

Among the most anticipated events is Burberry’s exclusively men’s fall / winter 2021 collection, designed by its Italian creative director Riccardo Tisci.

In September, the British brand of the iconic ‘trench coat’ had innovated to present its spring / summer 2021 collection. Its show, filmed in the middle of the forest, was broadcast live on Twitch, a streaming platform that has popularized video game broadcasts by offering the ability to make live commentary.

This unprecedented show accumulated a total of 118 million visits on the different platforms on which it was broadcast.

On Monday Burberry did it again, with a show visible on Twitch, Instagram and on its own website.

Caroline Rush, Managing Director of the British Fashion Council, which represents the industry, recently stated that she hopes that the virtual format “will continue to be a key element of the upcoming Fashion Weeks”.

British fashion employs more than 890,000 people and in 2019 contributed 35,000 million pounds (39,000 million euros, 49,000 million dollars) to the GDP of the United Kingdom, a figure that could drop to 26,200 million pounds, according to the BFC.

The organization fears the loss of 240,000 direct jobs, and up to 350,000 including indirect ones.

The economic consequences of the pandemic are added to those of Brexit, which complicates the movement of people and goods, crucial for this international industry.

pau / gmo / ahe / af-pc / mis