At the end of the Spring 2020 shows, a colleague pointed out that if one Googles “Vogue Runway,” one of the first related searches the site suggests is: Why are there fashion shows? Well, why? The fashion circuit originated in the 1930s as a way for designers around the world to communicate seasonal ideas. Every six months, out with the old! And everything would change. As we crawl into a new decade, the most seismic, influential shift in the fashion industry has been a disavowal of that very system: Being in or out just doesn’t make sense anymore. Humanity cannot afford to shift its dressing habits month after month, we can’t afford to ignore the environmental impact of our clothes, and we can’t afford to do anything but build lasting wardrobes of clothing to love and wear year after year.
The best collections we saw in New York, London, Milan, and Paris had something to say about the world at large. They participated, on levels large and small, in the discussion around climate change, from the painstaking upcycling of Marine Serre and Rentrayage to the new material technology of Stella McCartney and Alyx. They ditched over the top-ness for streamlined messages, like the raw sexuality of Gucci and Versace or the historical narratives of Erdem and Simone Rocha. They showed new modes of styling, like the rise of lingerie as outerwear at Koché or rethinking shorts as party clothes at Saint Laurent. They posited a focus on the hips, the center of female reproduction, at Comme des Garçons and Thom Browne (Browne even had a baby carriage on the catwalk). And most importantly, they made us care again, and again, and again for the craft and the hand of the people who make our clothes at Loewe and Alexander McQueen.
So, at the end of this month of fashion shows, the answer to Google’s lingering question is, maybe, another question: What if fashion could shape your life—the way you think and the way you are—in the same way a good book or a great film can reframe the world through an artist’s singular vision? The best clothes this season, and the best trends illustrated here, have that potential.
Nobody deserves to roast in the wrong clothes. With peak summer upon us, there’s no time like now to break out floaty, airy dresses to keep cool.