Physical gatherings have been common in China in the post-pandemic era, so it has become harder and harder to impress local audiences. Location-wise, Shanghai is still luxury’s hub for rolling out offline events due to its inclusivity and diversity. Meanwhile, other major cities and emerging markets like Chengdu and Shenzhen saw more luxury happenings than before the pandemic.
This year, brands have leveraged more occasions to create in-person connections with their loyal customers — and potential new ones — both offline and online. Those supported by powerful groups were able to bring their latest collections and house legacies to China via physical runways and large-scale exhibitions. Smaller celebrations, such as new stores and pop-up openings, were frequently seen at higher-end shopping malls. As importantly, online activities, from livestreams to interactive Mini Programs, filled out these offline events by allowing brands to reach wider audiences beyond the attendees.
Below — in chronological order — Jing Daily spotlights the six most memorable events hosted by luxury brands in 2021. For more of our 2021 year reviews and highlights, read here.
In June, Maison Margiela unveiled a space called “The Memory Of,” staged in the plaza of the Shanghai Réel department store, in which the brand has its Shanghai flagship store. The pop-up exhibition was a journey through avant-garde fashion that intertwined digital technology and architectural installations. As Maison Margiela is a house that made its name with anonymity, it is still careful about celebrity endorsements, focusing instead on consolidating its iconic design symbols among Chinese fashionistas.
On September 24, under the direction of Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada, Prada presented its Spring 2022 Womenswear Collection in both Milan and Shanghai. The runway was set up as a “modern community” where colleagues who have not been in the same room for years could see each other on a big screen — in other words, it was like a giant Zoom call, with China on one side, Italy on the other. More impressively, the house’s post-event activation added a sustainable approach. Leftover materials from the China show were donated to the Dandelion Child Development Center, a Shanghai-based non-profit organization for recycling materials to build libraries for children in rural and urban areas.
On September 28, Valentino presented Reborn In Dreams, a special show featuring its Fall/Winter 2021 Act Collection and celebrating the fifth anniversary of the award-winning theatrical experience Sleep No More. Together, the Italian house and Sleep No More Shanghai reinvented the troupe’s original version with an installation combining fashion, arts, and theater at the mysterious McKinnon Hotel playhouse in Shanghai. Inside, the audience of fashion KOLs and insiders was invited to engage with the show. By spotting a cultural product relevant to local shoppers, the house facilitated a greater emotional connection and better contextualized its image with Chinese audiences.
On November 17, Louis Vuitton presented the Womenswear Spring/Summer 2022 collection at the Shipyard Repair Docks on the Huangpu River, Shanghai. Instead of repeating or replicating shows in this key market, the house personalized the Shanghai spin-off runway for China through some local twists. In addition to decking the location out with dozens of antique chandeliers, Vuitton professed its dedication to Chinese audiences by designing 19 exclusive looks (and three handbags) for the show. Livestreams of the show could be found across six platforms: Weibo, WeChat Video Chanel, Tencent Video, Douyin, Kuaishou, and OTT, garnering 158 million combined views in three hours.
In November, LVMH-owned jewelry Maison Chaumet presented its “Tiara Dream” exhibition in Sanlitun, Beijing. The show featured Chaumet’s world-famous tiara masterpieces, including both precious antiques and contemporary works, as well as a large number of house archives and manuscripts exhibited in China for the first time. Moreover, the brand incorporated holographic projections and interactive installations while also launching a virtual showroom on WeChat that featured interactive programs where users could personalize their journeys.
In late November, Balenciaga held an exclusive worldwide event that courted Chinese couture customers. In a first for this market, the luxury house presented thirty looks from its 50th Couture Collection and offered viewings, fittings, and performances to the press, clients, and VIPs. Nineteen looks from the brand’s first couture collection, designed by Demna (Balenciaga’s first couture collection since 1967), were displayed in Tank Shanghai, including one created especially for the event.