If you weren’t extremely online over the past year, it was possible to think that fashion week had all but disappeared in the wake of the pandemic. Instead, it migrated online for a series of digital shows—some genius, some merely okay. Now, fashion week is back in full…ish force, with a mix of live (“physical”) shows and streaming (digital…remote…cinematic?) presentations. Still, it’s not quite the globetrotting series of events that defined the month of June in pre-pandemic times. Here, we demystify the events to come.
Fashion week? Again?
You bet! After the pandemic upended the usual schedule last summer, men’s week is sliding roughly back to its traditional calendar, with the Spring 2022 shows beginning in mid-June and running through early July.
What’s the order of events?
First up is London Fashion Week, which begins Saturday, June 12th, and runs through Monday, June 14th. This includes men’s and womenswear, and you can see the schedule here.
Next is Pitti Uomo, the Florence-based trade show, which will be held from Tuesday, June 15th to Thursday the 17th.
Then comes Milan Fashion Week, from Friday, June 18th to Tuesday, June 22nd. See the calendar here.
Lastly, we have Paris Fashion Week. Things kick off Tuesday, June 22nd and wrap up on Sunday the 27th. The calendar is live on the official FHCM site.
And does the uptick in vaccinations in the United States and Europe mean this is happening IRL?
Sort of. Pitti Uomo, the Italian trade show famous for its wildly-dressed “peacock” attendees, has continually stated its intention to return to an in-person run of events—fashion, after all, represents a huge share of Italy’s economy, and buying through digital platforms, as advanced as they’ve become in the past year, has been difficult. (One imagines that’s especially true for the kinds of goods—umbrellas, pocket squares, driving loafers—shown at Pitti.) A handful of Americans, specifically those who work in the tailoring business, have confirmed their in-person attendance.
Meanwhile, in London, Milan, and Paris, there will be a mix of digital and physical events, with designers striking a balance between a desire to drum up national fashion pride and respect the travel restrictions still in place for various countries. In Milan, for example, Giorgio Armani, who was one of the first to pivot to a digital presentation amid the global outbreak of coronavirus in March 2020, was early to announce his return to a physical show, to take place on Monday, June 21st. “During these months I realized that fashion cannot survive long in an exclusively virtual form,” he told Vogue last month. “I believe there will be a return to physical shows, turned into digital experiences for the global audience.” He suggested that shows moving forward would become more intimate, and perhaps more carefully curated or considered—a trend that will likely continue as the vaccination efforts, which have moved more slowly in Europe than the US, continue. Dolce & Gabbana (Saturday, June 19th) and Etro (Sunday, June 20th) are also showing in person.
In Paris, it’s yet unclear who has committed to an in-person show. For what it’s worth, longtime Paris fixture Yohji Yamamoto has been vocal about his distaste for digital presentations.
All that being said, your trusted GQ squad will remain in the United States for the time being, so we’ll be taking things in just as many of you will be—digitally.
So who should I pay attention to?
Good question! In London, all eyes—or mine, at least—will be on Ahluwalia, a recipient of the 2020 LVMH Prize known for her tech-y upcycling, as well as the great Nicholas Daley, for his karate-inflected tweeds.
In Milan, Armani has positioned the return of in-person events as a show of the city’s fashion strength—it’s the town where the drapey tailoring everyone’s hankering for this summer was invented, after all! Armani seems to have spent the past year deep in contemplation about fashion’s meaning and purpose in this frenetic world; let’s see how all that thinking impacts his continued beige agenda. Plus: Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons second menswear collection—their first Spring collection as co-creative directors—will debut on Sunday, June 20th. That’s a must-see.
Milan is historically the capital of menswear, but Paris continues to be where the trendiest bigwigs show—Dior, Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Dries Van Noten, and Rick Owens will all put out new collections then. Will they strike a newly hopeful tone, as designers increasingly imagine a “post-pandemic world”? Or will they turn to something gnarlier, as Owens did in his collection last January? Will personal style and dress-up continue to be a key element for menswear, which is pushing men more and more to experiment with feminine cuts and silhouettes like skirts? (One more name to watch: Parisian brand Casablanca continues to build buzz—designer Charaf Tajer just snagged a nomination for the ANDAM Prize and was named a Woolmark Prize finalist.)
Anything else I should look out for?
It’s been awhile since designers were able to pull out all the stops—like when Kim Jones got Drake to make a new song just for his Spring 2018 Louis Vuitton collection, or Virgil Abloh put the Migos in his front row, or Rick Owens played Zebra Katz’s “Ima Read” on repeat for the entirety of his show, or Frank Ocean ran around Paris with a big Old Celine shopper tote. It’s not even about the spectacle, but the sighting. As the industry attempts to go back to “normal,” expect that brands will attempt to drum up some of these moments with celebrity attendees or monster soundtracks.
And what’s happening at Pitti Uomo? Any fancy guest designers?
Wait, what about Gucci? And Balenciaga? And Celine?
Way back at the beginning of the pandemic, Gucci, Bottega Veneta, and Saint Laurent stated their intention to show on their own schedule, off the established trade association calendars. It bears noting that both are owned by the luxury conglomerate Kering, which has positioned itself as the experimental maverick to LVMH’s unstoppable behemoth. (Gucci “hacked” its sibling brand Balenciaga back in April, for example.) This was in response to the carousel of off-season collections that turned the industry into a morass of “It’s always fashion week somewhere.” They wanted to create less and with more intention—and for the most part, these scaled back schedules have resulted in incredibly focused, sophisticated collections.
So, to answer the question: Balenciaga staged its Spring 2022 show this past weekend. (There’s also a couture show coming from the house, their first since Cristobal himself was designing the brand, in July, in Paris.) Gucci, meanwhile, will wait until November to show in person—in Los Angeles.
Celine, which is part of LVMH, is also working on its own schedule. The brand’s last men’s collection, the rollicking medieval e-boy paean Teen Knight Poem, debuted in February, shortly after most of the other men’s collections, while the Spring 2021 collection, The Dancing Kid, was shown late in the summer. The safe bet this go-round is some time in August (which means if you start choreographing your viral video now, you could be the lucky recipient of a TikTok-to-runway homage).
And what about, like, the entire United States? Are we still doing New York Fashion Week?
We are…sort of. You’ll have to wait until September for men’s energy in New York, but boy, is it coming: Telfar, Pyer Moss, and Thom Browne will all be presenting collections around then, when the Met Gala is staging a comeback, too.
Is there an unexpected fashion capital?
I’m so glad you asked: Venice! Rick Owens has staged his last few shows there, and now a few other brands are joining him. First is Saint Laurent, whose collection will debut on July 14th in conjunction with the Biennale of Architecture, featuring a large-scale installation by artist Doug Aitken. The next day, Valentino will show its couture collection in the city—and judging from designer Pierpaolo Piccioli’s last couture collection, which featured a well-received menswear offering, we’ll see some more high-end men’s goods there, too. (It also probably means that everyone is going to wear those cool little Venetian slippers this summer, too.)
The million dollar question: will there be street style?
Street style appears to be inching back: here’s a Vogue slideshow of looks from Australian Fashion Week, for example, which has happened mostly in-person thanks to that country’s admirable handling of the virus. But I’m betting what we do see this season won’t look the same: over the past year, I’ve clocked consumers growing more skeptical of big trends (if not big brands), and doubling down on individuality over grails.
What’s the point of all of this, again?
For something so glamorous, fashion week has a pretty utilitarian purpose: designers debut their collections six to eight months in advance of when they appear in stores, giving buyers the time to put together their slate of product for the season, and manufacturers time to make the clothes. Of course, this also gives fast-fashion brands time to knock things off, and fashion media ample time to encourage a global conspiracy of trends that seems oddly prophetic when, say, five-inch inseam shorts suddenly arrive in every brand’s store. Glad to be back!