September is set to be a thrilling month in Italy. Events are already restarting all over the Country, but Milan in particular has picked September as a month of rebirth, with a packed schedule of trade shows and international events that aim to restore an almost “pre-Covid” rhythm to the city’s life. Almost being the keyword: we know that things are not going to be exactly the same when it comes to event planning, and not just because there are new health and safety regulations we all must reckon with, but because we have learned how digital and virtual technologies can add to the experience of a traditional event and we are not willing to let those extra features go. According to this new philosophy, one of the first international events to be organised is the Milan Fashion Week, which will take place from September 21st to 27th as a “phygital” event.
What can you expect from a “phygital” Fashion Week
Milan is getting ready to rebuild its special connection with the fashion industry and that inevitably requires a physical event. Because virtual events are awesome in that they can happen anywhere and nowhere, they need content rather than context or, if they do have context, it is made to be experienced by everyone in the same way, whether they join in from the same block as the event organisers or from another continent altogether. In this sense, there would be no real difference between the Milan Fashion Week and the London Fashion Week: ideally, both could be held within the same 3D environment, featuring similar designers. The fact that the fashion industry has so many capitals around the world has something to do with each city’s individual personality. There is no “Milan Fashion Week” without Milan. This year, within the context of the Fashion Week, there will be 28 physical events and 24 digital ones. Designers will be able to choose the format with which they feel most comfortable based on their technical and artistic needs. Each catwalk has its own narrative and the organisers decided to allow all participants to unfold it using the tools and techniques most suited to it. Missoni, Marco de Vincenzo, Luisa Beccaria, and Dsquared2 are among the brands that have decided to go full digital for this edition, while Marni, Versace, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Max Mara, and Giorgio Armani, among others, have chosen to hold physical events.
There are still no official safety guidelines, but measures will definitely be put in place to protect everyone’s health. Italy’s warm weather is expected to allow most events to occur outdoors, but, depending on the venue and the general regulations that will be in place after the summer, guests might be required to wear masks and/or show proof of vaccination negative Covid test. The same might be requested for models. After all, in many European countries, modelling jobs and commercial video shootings have been paying for actors and models to get tested for most of 2021.
Young designers are thrilled to go “back to normal”
If there is one element that no digital event can recreate is the “debutante” experience of young designers showcasing their work in such a prestigious setting for the first time, and being able to assess the audience’s and press’ reactions in real-time, later to be introduced into the circles of high-fashion and high-society at the legendary parties that always follow (and sometimes precede) Milan fashion shows. For those who are getting their first chance at making it onto the big stage this year, it is essential to do so in person, meet people, be remembered, and strengthen personal relationships. Many careers could shine or be eclipsed in the near future, depending on how this particular aspect of the September Fashion Week is managed.