Paris Fashion Week SS21: are fashion shows dead? The week's summary.

Paris Fashion Week has just closed fashion month, and although there were some traditional runway shows, most of the 84 fashion houses chose to present their SS21 collections through digital shows. Could this mean the death of traditional fashion shows?

After much speculation, the shows of Paris Fashion Week SS21 were confirmed almost in the last minute and happened from the 28th September to 8th October in the French capital. We saw at Milan and Paris Fashion Week SS21 that runway shows are still important for many brands, and they will slowly go back to normal.

By performing their live catwalk shows on the internet, luxury fashion houses adapt themselves to the current COVID-19 situation. And despite the low attendance, socially-distanced shows and mandatory face masks at PFW SS21, Paris shows that the show must go on. 

PFW 21 split into presentations and fashion shows.

MFW and PFW SS21 were divided into physical and digital shows. But presenting a collection in physical runway shows and presenting it through photos and films are two very different things. As Dries Van Noten said, “You know how fond I was of fashion shows? The whole collection was built up around the idea of putting it on a catwalk. But this time, it was thinking about clothes for a shoot”. Van Noten found himself in the completely new territory of directing photographs and a film. That was a first in a 34-year career.

A different kind of Paris Fashion Week

PFW SS21 shows were quite a different affair from the past. Instead of seeing the French capital buzzing with fashion editors and buyers, models and fashion enthusiasts, we had runway presentations with little or no audience. 

Additionally, the fab visits to showrooms around the Marais have turned into Zoom meetings and look books on digital platforms. Even so, there was plenty of glamour on the front rows of PFW SS21 runway shows, with the ones like Natalia Vodianova and husband Antoine Arnault, Vanessa Paradis and Caroline de Maigret. Also,  actresses Lea Seydoux and Laura Harrier, and Instagrammers Camille Charrière and the Spanish Blanca Miro, among others, attended the runway shows at PFW SS21.

Some changes in PFW SS21

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there’s been a lot of talk about the role of fashion in the climate crisis and the need for change in the fashion industry, for both brands and consumers. Fashion houses are trying to find new ways of producing and slowing down the frantic pace of fashion shows to be more sustainable. For example, Armani and Versace chose to present fewer looks, showing men and women’s wear together at PFW SS21. Additionally, Comme des Garçons and Saint Laurent pulled out of the event to lead their own rhythm.

Brands that showed at Paris Fashion Week SS21




 Paco Rabanne

Isabel Marant

The newcomers

Gabriela Hearst

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🙏@nicolephelps @voguerunway”…In the five years since she launched her eponymous brand, Hearst has gone from an unknown to the CFDA’s Womenswear Designer of the Year. When A Paris show is another notch in her belt: a signal of not just her success, but also of her ambition.An editor on the ground in the École des Beaux-Arts courtyard venue, who had never seen a Hearst show in person, summed up her impression: “juste.” The collection of 30 looks efficiently telegraphed Hearst’s point of view; it was just enough. Juste also means “fair,” and certainly, Hearst’s efforts around sustainability this season were impressive. She offset the show’s carbon footprint with a donation to Madre de Dios, a Peruvian NGO that protects the country’s Amazon rain forest and monitors its endangered species, creating jobs in the region in the process. And she continues to be a leader in the use of upcycled materials and deadstocks.”It was really important to us to push ourselves creatively, to not let the pandemic stifle us,” Hearst said. “It became the craft challenge.” The GH tailoring that has made its way onto the backs of influential women like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Meghan Markle, Jill Biden, and Oprah Winfrey, took a back seat. Instead, and in keeping with the themes of comfort and ease that have defined the season so far, Hearst trained her focus on knitwear: A long crocheted tank dress of many colors and its ivory sister were both striking, as were a pair of hand-knit cashmere ponchos with fringe that nearly reached the ankles in back. The collection’s genesis was a shell bracelet from Easter Island, a gift from Hearst’s mother back in January. The designer re-created it as shell trimming along the edges of circular cut-outs and on the straps of two repurposed silk dresses, making keepsakes to treasure of what were otherwise simple silhouettes. The shells led her to explorations of the golden spiral, which she reproduced in embroidered seaming details on a pair of slub linen trenches and on an aloe linen dress. Sacred geometry posits that God is the geometer of the world. In the immortal words of Ariana Grande, “God is a woman.” Hearst did a nice job channeling her work”

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Cecilie Bahnsen

Wales Bonner

Although Givenchy is not a newcomer, this was the first collection with Matthew M Williams as creative director after Clare Waight Keller left Givenchy.

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#givenchyss21 by @matthewmwilliams

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PFW SS21 Digital Shows

Dries van Noten



Marine Serre


Thom Browne