Images and Words By Kerry Curl
If a two years ago someone had asked the question ‘If a pandemic struck, do you think it would
mean the death of fashion?’ What thoughts would you have had?
Would you have been able to imagine scrolling through your grid where hospital workers
show their faces covered with grooves from hours of wearing masks and then in the next
square an influencer smiles to the camera holding up the latest pieces from their fast
2020/21 has been many things so far and I think it’s fair to say most of us are still figuring out
how to respond to it all.
The world is still turning though, and fashion still exists. Whilst many are reconnecting, and
some are reassessing, most of us are still consuming it, be it in physical garments, words or
images. It is still a moving thing. The news that Fashion Week would go digital, wasn’t a
huge surprise to me. People have definitely been thinking out loud about what a more
digital fashion week platform might look like for a while now. The current global situation
turning the entire event digital, is certainly an interesting test.
London Fashion Week has become so much more than just a select few ‘on schedule’
runway shows and exclusive events. During the official fashion week dates, more and more
designers have been holding their own independent catwalks, popups, panel talks and
presentations or they’ve been joining other fashion show events which are held during LFW.
This varied mix of happenings held during the week, means there’s been a more democratic
approach as to who can attend/cover/experience fashion week for a while now.
Is digital just the next logical step in how a fashion week evolves? Could going digital and
giving free access to all who want it, actually turn out to be an exciting move? The sheer
volume of Instagram lives, held during the weeks of lockdown have perhaps already done a
pretty good job at setting the scene for digital interactions being the new ‘normal’?
I’m curious to know though, how many would be attendees will still engage with the week,
if it means there is no opportunity for them to be physically there. Having seen people at
fashion week attending as guests but mainly taking photos of themselves, I have to say this
might be an interesting way to see who wants to be there for the actual fashion and
creativity rather than for their own Instagram…
Will digital access offer designers a more personal way to reach a new audience and
consumer? I also have to say that the 14 year old me who LOVED fashion would have been
all over the opportunity to watch fashion week from my bedroom on a housing estate over
100 miles away.
Using an official fashion week hashtag gets a creatives work in the same digital space as the
official shows. So whilst we’re thinking about the reach a digital fashion week could have
beyond being a guest at a physical show in a city you don’t even live in… What if a creative
goes DIY and shares a fashion presentation from their own garden, an aspiring writer
responds to a show from their kitchen… I recently used my own Instagram to curate an
exhibition of some SS20 work. We all have the potential to be self publishers.
As a photographer who has been documenting backstage a fashion week events for the last
few years, I’ll be honest and say I’ve spent some time over the last couple of months
wondering if I will I get to make more of this work if fashion weeks remains digital from this
point on. Have I really made my last images documenting these behind the scenes
moments or is it just a break? I just don’t know.
2020 was a loud and clear demonstration that there are a lot of things out of our
control. Like many of us, I had a five year plan which I was working my way through and no-
where on it was a pandemic.
This period has seen a lot of us taking time to look forward and reflect back. So whilst we all
wait to see what the ‘new new’ is, I’ve been going back through my work to put together
some of my personal favourite images from being backstage and observing fashion shows
and presentations. Which I’m sharing here with you digitally… so I guess this is more
evidence that fashion week going digital isn’t such a big reach at all?