Valentino Couture Spring 2020

Flipping the traditional order of its fashion calendar, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode said it would stage an online version of Paris Couture Week from July 6 to 8.

The haute couture shows were originally slated for July 5 to 9, a week after men’s fashion week. But in May, French fashion’s organizing body set an online showcase for the men’s collections for July 9 to 13.

That means couture will kick off proceedings in Paris this season with a digital platform hinged on films and videos, the federation said, using wording identical to the earlier statement it issued regarding the men’s shows.

“This event will be structured around a dedicated platform. The principle of the official calendar is maintained,” it said.

“Each house will be represented in the form of a creative film/video. Additional content will be included in an editorialized section of the platform. All of this will be widely shared on the main international media networks,” it added.

It is understood the federation plans to involve several tech and other partners, to be revealed at a later date. In late March, as the coronavirus pandemic worsened in France, the federation canceled the summer runway shows. Men’s fashion week had been scheduled from June 23 to 28.

Megabrands and independent designers alike have been grappling with how to replace physical runway shows, long the dominant model for unveiling collections.

Paris Couture Week had been gaining momentum in recent years, with a growing number of women’s ready-to-wear brands staging off-calendar presentations to take advantage of the lighter schedule. Last season Bouchra Jarrar returned to the official couture calendar and Julie de Libran was among the invited members.

July’s highlights had been expected to include the collaboration between Sacai’s Chitose Abe and the house of Jean Paul Gaultier, the first of its kind since the couturier retired in January. The collection is slated to bow in January 2021.

Balenciaga, which was due to return to the couture calendar in July after a 52-year absence, has also pushed its high-fashion launch to January.

Giorgio Armani said the Armani Privé show will be postponed to January 2021 and will be no longer held in Paris, where the designer has displayed his couture collections for years, but in Milan at his storied headquarters in Via Borgonuovo, the 17th-century Palazzo Orsini. The collection will be seasonless, comprising winter and summer pieces.

Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli is understood to be working on a special project for couture, though it is unclear whether it will be unveiled on the Paris calendar. While many brands have yet to disclose their projects, designer Iris Van Herpen said she plans to ramp up her use of technology.

“We are in the midst of creating an immersive virtual reality experience as an extension of our upcoming collection for press, clients and fans to experience the designs synthetically and in full detail and motion to bring our vision of the future of fashion to life,” she told WWD in March.

“Within this period of rapid change, we aim to embrace change even more profoundly and take this moment of silence to create space to invest in our ongoing course of innovation, sustainability and personalization,” Van Herpen said.