The Fashion Memo

What fashion week looks like now…

Erdem’s FW20 runway show in February was held at London’s National Portrait Gallery

This Sunday marks day one of New York Fashion Week. Unsurprisingly, things are looking very different this season, and only a few shows will actually go on. In fact, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CDFA) has announced the launch of a dedicated NYFW online platform, called Runway360, for labels that aren’t physically showing. With many designers playing things cautiously in light of the global health crisis, there are also some noteworthy absentees from the schedule; ditto the three other fashion capitals. Though this new format feels quite peculiar, it’s a welcome change of pace to a previously overwhelming schedule. Some designers have dreamt up innovative digital activations instead, while others have relocated to show in cities that make more sense for them right now (more on that to come).

Plus, there are some exciting, season-defining moments to look forward to – Raf Simons’ hotly anticipated Prada debut, for one – from a safe distance. As for those who are on hiatus – including Gucci, Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta – some designers will no doubt use this as a moment to reset and recharge, and who knows what genius ideas they will return with? “It seems inevitable that once people are free to circulate again, there’s going to be an explosion of creativity and self-expression,” predicts fashion critic Cathy Horyn in her rumination on the spring/summer 2021 collections, entitled ‘The Lost Season’, for The Cut. “All the pent-up energy and emotion will mean a new excitement for live performance, new restaurants, and a renewed interest in style.” Here, four iconic designers detail their revised SS21 plans…

A Victorian ironwork hall at Olympia in London was the setting for Burberry’s FW20 runway. This season, the label is taking its show online only


The Burberry show has long served as the lynchpin of London fashion week. It was previously notorious for starting bang on time (unlike most shows, which lag by upwards of 20 minutes), and invites were like gold dust. While it is still considered one of the most exclusive shows on the schedule, chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci has made some marked changes in his two years at the helm. From the get-go, the revered ex-Givenchy designer’s mission was to bring his much-loved elevated streetwear aesthetic to the British heritage house, and more recently, his focus has shifted to include sustainable production, too; last season’s venue was certified sustainable, the house has invested in carbon-offsetting initiatives, and is creating a Regeneration Fund to tackle the environmental impact of its operations. For SS21, Burberry has remained on the London schedule but pivoted away from a traditional show and instead will stage a digital presentation on September 17 that celebrates, is set in, and respects (through a reduced environmental impact) the British outdoors.

“As humans, we have always had a deep affinity to nature. We have had to respect and rely upon its power for our very existence, while marveling and reveling in its extraordinary beauty. Especially recently, we have all yearned to reconnect again, and for this show I wanted to celebrate these feelings by bringing our community together in a creative experience that takes place within the beautiful, natural landscape of Britain.” – Riccardo Tisci


London’s National Portrait Gallery often plays home to the history-obsessed Erdem Moralioglu – the darling of LFW. His unique brand of romance and whimsy comes packaged in luxuriously detailed, vintage-inspired pieces that are perfectly befitting of their grand surroundings, but made for modern women. This season, the Canadian designer took a hybrid approach by whisking his Erdem ladies to a top secret (for now) outdoor location, where they were filmed walking an alfresco runway – the results of which will be streamed digitally on September 21.

“This season, I staged my show with no audience. I think there is something quite beautiful about it – it’s like a secret happening. Although I do think it’s necessary and wonderful to share a live show with everyone, I’m excited about having the freedom of taking a show to somewhere we wouldn’t normally be able to go with an audience. We will be able to push what we can do creatively and find new ways to tell the story of the collection.” – Erdem Moralioglu


Though it is the archetype of Italian glamour, Valentino has unveiled its ready-to-wear, menswear and couture collections in Paris for almost a decade. This season, however, Pierpaolo Piccioli has chosen to show on home turf instead. With his atelier in Rome, the house’s creative director has decided to present both his women’s and men’s SS21 collections together in Milan on September 27. The reduced travel is sure to be a safer choice for Piccioli and his team, plus it is more environmentally friendly. Though he’s giving little away in terms of what exactly we can expect, whichever way he chooses to exhibit his majestic Valentino vermillion is sure to be a moment to remember.

“Paris is the city where we have always hosted our shows and that truly embodies the Valentino DNA. The current situation has forced us to take an unusual decision. I believe that in this moment in time it is of paramount importance to stay grounded and focused and to work on tasks. I feel energized when I can work on ideas and this is the time for ideas to spread and grow. Milano is a new opportunity, a great project that I am developing with my teams, with the aim of working around the idea of identity.” – Pierpaolo Piccioli

Having previously staged its ready-to-wear runway shows in Paris, including FW20 (pictured), Valentino will be showing SS21 in Milan

Gabriela Hearst

Hearst is the fashion world’s answer to Mother Earth. Since establishing her eponymous label on ethical principals in 2015, she’s made impressive strides in sustainability, from using recycled and repurposed materials in her exquisitely crafted collections, right down to investing in zero-waste stores and biodegradable Tipa packaging. Next, she plans to completely eliminate virgin materials by 2022. This season, Hearst announced a switch from her usual NYFW slot to show in Paris, in order to reduce her carbon footprint by moving closer to her Italian manufacturers. Her debut in the City of Light will take place on October 4.

“We always had the capacity to show in Paris because we have a studio there and 90 percent of our collection, as well as our samples, are made in Italy. We had a lot of stress with the logistics of shipping the samples to New York, and I started to think the carbon footprint of that was crazy. We know as we measure our carbon footprint that the biggest emitters are transportation and raw materials, and here I am trying to do all this stuff, like shipping everything by boat, to reduce that. So, it seemed like the right time to do something in Paris, and to use this time to transform and to challenge ourselves.

“We need to present physically because it’s very much about the quality of our product and craftsmanship and, while some things may look really rustic, they’re actually the most luxurious fabrics you’ve ever touched. We’re excited; it has definitely added a little spice to the collection because we’re doing something new. Plus, Paris is such a dream for many designers. Of course, New York is my city and my home, so it was a conflicting decision to make. I think the show is going to be small, to maintain distancing. I’m being sent locations to look at and everything is beautiful; I’ve been looking at gardens because ideally we would like something that has an open space. We always have an inviting element and a homeliness to our shows – and there’s always food; if you can’t make good food in Paris, you can’t make it anywhere!” – Gabriela Hearst