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Louis Vuitton to hold first physical fashion show in Singapore amid Covid-19 pandemic

The Louis Vuitton Women's Spring/Summer 2021 Spin-Off show will be held at ArtScience Museum. PHOTO: LOUIS VUITTON


Fashion is returning to the catwalk at Louis Vuitton on Tuesday (March 23). Even though recent fashion weeks in Paris, London and Milan have gone completely digital due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the French fashion house will stage a fashion show in Singapore, complete with masked guests seated 1m apart.

To be held at ArtScience Museum, the Louis Vuitton Women's Spring/Summer 2021 Spin-Off show will be the first full-fledged physical fashion show in Singapore in the new normal.

There will be three shows - at noon, 4pm and 7.30pm - with just 112 guests each and a slew of safe management measures in place, such as temperature checks and SafeEntry scans on arrival. All surfaces will be sanitised between each show.

Guests will be segmented into zones, with no intermingling among zones, and Louis Vuitton face masks have been included with the invitations. Also, arrival, departure and seating timings will be staggered. Safe distancing ambassadors will be deployed at the venue as well.

The 41 unmasked models walking the show will be at least 3m away from the guests. They will also observe safe distancing on the runway. They and the backstage crew, including hair and make-up artists, will also be segregated into zones.

The final show will be live-streamed on Louis Vuitton's website so everyone can have a front-row seat from the comfort of his or her home. 

A total of 69 looks - from the spring/summer collection, presented in a "distanced" show in Paris last October by Louis Vuitton's womenswear artistic director Nicolas Ghesquiere, and a Summer Capsule collection inspired by the beach - will be featured.

For fashion editors, celebrities, influencers and clients who used to jet-set to fashion capitals for shows, this presentation signals that the industry is taking baby steps towards recovery. It promises to be a star-studded event and the guest list includes home-grown actresses Zoe Tay and Rebecca Lim as well as singer Stefanie Sun.

The last time Harper's Bazaar Singapore editor-in-chief Kenneth Goh attended a fashion show in person was a year ago. Coincidentally, it was the Louis Vuitton presentation, held at the Louvre, which closed Paris Fashion Week.

"I'm very excited to attend the show in Singapore for Louis Vuitton. It's the first replica womenswear show by Ghesquiere outside of Paris in this new normal," he said. "It's a great opportunity to showcase the importance and significance of Singapore in the global fashion scene as Louis Vuitton will be live-streaming the show at ArtScience Museum."

Dubbed a "phygital" show, the event will combine physical and digital elements, with green screens playing a major role.

They form a backdrop for the projection of footage from director Wim Wenders' film, Wings Of Desire (1987). The romantic fantasy classic - which tells the tale of angels who choose to experience life, thanks to the power of love - was employed to great effect in the Spring/Summer 2021 show in Paris last October.

Louis Vuitton worked closely with the Singapore Tourism Board to leverage the country's talent, infrastructure, resources and luxury consumer landscape to bring about this show.  Local models as well as Singapore-based ones will be in the spotlight.

Notably, Singapore's top international model Kaigin Yong, who was in Paris for fashion week earlier this month, will strut the runway.

Working behind the scenes are fashion industry veterans such as Singaporean show director Daniel Boey and Spanish film-maker Fran Borgia. Borgia - who has been based here for 15 years - will take on the role of live-stream creative director.

Mr Goh of Harper's Bazaar Singapore believes that if Louis Vuitton's show is a success, many other brands will follow suit.

"Nothing beats the excitement and the immediacy of a live show and to be able to see beautiful fashion on the most interesting models in a captivating space - it's what sartorial dreams are made of."



Q&A with Louis Vuitton's CEO Michael Burke


Mr Michael Burke talks about the Louis Vuitton Women's Spring/Summer 2021 Spin-Off show, effects of the pandemic and the maison's approach to sustainability. PHOTO: LOUIS VUITTON


Louis Vuitton's head honcho talks about the show, the effects of the pandemic and the maison's approach to sustainablity.


How has Louis Vuitton navigated the past year and what would you say are the three main takeaways from the pandemic?

What this current pandemic has taught us is to show resilience, agility and creativity:

We have nurtured our relationships with our clients and have stayed connected on a deep level with a personalized one-to-one approach.

As travel became complicated, we virtually met with our clients through all means possible.

We know people are not going to be able to travel, so let's not have people travel to the venues - let's have the clothes travel to the venues.

The spin-off show in Singapore is a way for Louis Vuitton to cultivate proximity with a global audience by bringing the show to a new location and addressing current challenges faced by clients/travellers who are used to looking towards fashion capitals for the latest season's inspirations and to shop the collections.

Louis Vuitton will be the first brand to hold a full-fledged physical (and digital) fashion show in Singapore, especially in current times, to rejuvenate Singapore's fashion event scene.

It is in difficult times that great ideas are always born.

Everyone's talking about sustainability, from fast fashion to luxury goods. What is Louis Vuitton's stand and position on this?

Louis Vuitton is on a committed journey to have 100 per cent of its raw materials responsibly sourced by 2025, eliminate single use plastic by 2030, act on climate change, taking into account everything from cotton and viscose harvesting, to reinforcing its contribution to the objectives defined by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Luxury, as we understand it at Louis Vuitton, goes hand-in-hand with high-quality craftsmanship.

By definition, we produce in very limited quantities. In addition, our products are intended for the long term. Louis Vuitton products are made to last. We are mainstreaming the environment into every step of the creative process.

Throughout these stages, we are reinventing how we design our creations and exploring pathways to sustainable creativity.

To do so, it is vital that we 1) source environmentally-friendly materials 2) optimize the use of these materials (no additional production) and 3) manufacture products that can be repaired (Louis Vuitton provides repair services all over the world whereby over 1/2 million products are repaired every year).

At Louis Vuitton, we control our entire production chain, our logistics platforms and our distribution network. This gives us free rein to take tangible decisions and to act for change.

How will live fashion shows and digital versions co-exist and evolve, now that everyone can get a "front-row seat" in front of the laptop?

Digital should "augment" fashion shows, not replace them. It is a fantastic opportunity to create one-of-kind experiences.

For Women's Spring-Summer 2021, Nicolas Ghesquière and his teams imagined a strong concept combining physical and digital: a "phygital" show giving access to different experiences while seated in the venue or in front of your laptop / mobile device.

The last Women's Fall-Winter 2021 by Nicolas Ghesquière - which was fully digital due to sanitary restrictions - counted more than 100 million views worldwide. The digital buzz was phenomenal.

In parallel, travelling to the venues will remain, such as the example of the spin-off show in Singapore.



This article first appeared in The Straits Times on 19 March 2021.


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