It’s been the year that saw top fashion houses denied access to the physicality that forms an integral part of their mystique. Global restrictions shut down the lights-music-action framework of catwalks, the collective gasps – or pursed lips – from impeccably turned-out punters in the coveted see-and-be-seen front-row seats, the very sound of stunning creations rustling, crackling or whispering past…
Vogue Business warned that fashion and luxury overall should brace for sales losses of $450-$600 billion over 2020.
But the iconic fashion brands moved swiftly to work with the new conditions, stitching consumer trust deeper into their fabric with creative understanding in a bid to prop up global sales that remain the envy of less-endowed sectors.
If you go down to the woods today…
…. you’re more than likely to find a fashion shoot going on. Social distancing and the difficulties of indoor shoots drove creatives and their models into the outdoors during the course of the year. Special mention goes to this exquisitely crafted campaign for the Christian Dior Autumn/Winter haute couture collection by Maria Grazia Chiuri.
Visually arresting, the 10-minute conceit is a river of physicality and sensuality that takes us on a gentle journey peopled with enchanting creatures and ends on a practical note as the garments themselves take pride of place in the credits, with their names and descriptions on display.
The whole is a reference to the Théâtre de la Mode, a post-World War 2 initiative to re-establish Paris as the centre of world fashion and raise funds for war survivors. Involving dozens of French designers and 150 exquisitely dressed dolls made to about a third of human life-size, the exhibition toured Europe and the USA between 1945 and 1946.
Defining the Zeitgeist
In our own disturbed times, we’re clearly not out of the woods yet, but the Christmas ad from Britain’s upmarket brand Burberry pulls out all the energy stops with what feels like more than a hint of challenge to restriction.
A troupe of appropriately clad dancers perform a high-energy routine amid snowballs on slushy London streets to a version of ‘Singing in the Rain’ re-worked and performed by musical artist Dreya Mac, delivering a vision of freedom wrapped in a message of action, discipline and resilience.
Choreography and dance are by (LA)HORDE, a collective founded by three Ballet National de Marseille artists – Marine Brutti, Jonathan Debrouwer and Arthur Harel – which aims to take on radically contemporary themes and questions.
“Everything we do should be to empower youth with a courageous spirit and to help them understand that they can influence the future and the world that they want to create”
says (LA)HORDE for the wider Burberry campaign (top image). It also features footballer and activist Marcus Rashford, who praised the brand’s approach of leading with “action rather than words”.
Meanwhile, Gucci has been responding to the Zeitgeist in its own inimitable, erm, fashion, by looking both forward and back: It soon got with the non-physical programme by launching Gucci 9 , a platform connecting customers digitally with immaculately-clad staff available to welcome and show them round a brightly lit and well-stocked ‘fake store’.
President and CEO Marco Bizzarri said the launch of Gucci 9 – aka Gucci Live – delivers “according to the values that define and differentiate our brand today: a human touch powered by technology”.
Contrastingly, the weirdly wonderful world of Gucci advertising took the brand back in time for its Christmas 2020 ad campaign, #GucciGift.
Even those who dread the office Christmas party may be missing it after the ravages of the COVID-19 coronavirus situation, and the Italian luxury company here transports us back through the decades to the Nineties for a kooky colleagues’ preparation and age-appropriate disco scenario.
Freedom’s just another word for…
…whatever we each want/need it to be, really. Versace’s seasonal offering takes us out for a spin in this lusciously retro yet very contemporary holiday season campaign as it strives to capture the spirit of freedom so many of us have been missing.
Gorgeously packaged gifts and models drive ‘Home for the Holidays’ amid spectacular scenery in a topless car, in what the Italian fashion house says is: “the anticipation of reuniting with family, friends and loved ones – presenting scenic landscapes that highlight the many different journeys that will be taken this season.
“The journey home, which can be also be spiritual rather than physical, feels even more significant during these times of distance. At the centre of the campaign is an appreciation of love and connection, with an optimism that together we can create a better world.”
Well of course we can.
And that’s exactly the appeal of the luxury fashion houses’ Christmas 2020 ads – they transport us out of ourselves, away from our challenges, forwards into a more beautiful reality. Whatever our shopping budget, they get it, they get us all.
The strong bones of success underlying the flesh of a ‘frivolous’ industry.