Paris Fashion Week Embraces Chinese Talents
Next up, it’s Paris’ turn, as the Jing Daily Fashion Week Score, which evaluates how a brand’s collection resonates with Chinese audiences, focuses on the last stop before Shanghai on the Autumn 2021 fashion week calendar.
Paris Fashion Week featured a flurry of inventive content, the highlight of which was an ambitious Weibo livesteam from Hermès that connected Shanghai to top fashion cities like New York and Paris. Events like these have been firmly placing China into the stratosphere of fashion capitals with those global counterparts. In fact, Dior confirmed the country’s presence when its one-hour livestream starring Chinese ambassador Angelababy drove over 12 million views after its release on Weibo.
Meanwhile, China’s new importance on the fashion schedule is also forcing brands away from runway shows with models of the same shape and color. So how did they do in Paris?
The Jing Daily Fashion Week Score is based on the following parameters:
Model representation: evaluates representation of Chinese models on the runway.
Digital impact: evaluates Chinese netizen reception and engagement on leading social media platforms, including Weibo, WeChat, and Little Red Book.
KOL & celebrity visibility: considers the star power associated with strategic KOL and celebrity partnerships.
Special brand efforts: considers special programs or efforts on a brand’s part to speak to the Chinese audience. Company or brand contributions toward the on-going virus crisis are also considered.
Design context: a qualitative assessment of how the brand’s collection will speak to the Chinese audience based on current trends and preferences.
Brand history: considers existing history in China, including overall presence, social reach, number of stores, earning trends, and missteps.
This season, Maria Grazia Chiuri explored feminism through the lens of fairy tales, reinterpreting classic female characters like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Sleeping Beauty. Disturbing Beauty was filmed in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles and went live on WeChat Channel, Weibo, Douyin, Little Red Book, Bilibili, Tencent Video, and Xiaomi Video. The one-hour livestream featured brand ambassador Angelababy, singer Liu Yuxin, the fashion KOLs Mr. Bags and Becky Li, and editors like Cosmopolitan China’s Liu Yuewei and Harper’s Bazaar China’s Wei Tian. The combined following of 130 million drove 12.7 million views for the digital show in one day on Weibo. In addition to the livestream session, the brand posted two short-videos, “Dior Talk,” featuring Q&As with Angelababy and Liu Yuxin, respectively, which elevated the show’s social engagement.
Creative Director Nicholas Ghesquière presented at the Louvre in Paris together with the brand’s capsule collection, realized in collaboration with Italian Home Decor studio Fornasetti. The looks reinterpreted ancient greek sculptures — the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Venus de Milo, and Discobolus, to name a few — in a modern way, accompanied by techno music in the background.
For Fall 2021, Louis Vuitton fully leaned on social media engagement by inviting Brand Ambassadors Liu Yifei, Dilraba Dilmurat, Zhong Chuxi, and Fu Qing — owning a combined of 159 Million followers on Weibo — to announce the show’s trailer. The campaign drove massive traffic to the brand’s Weibo announcement post, exceeding a million viewers from the beginning and reaching 12.6 Million by the end of it.
The legendary Left Bank nightclub Chez Castel was the setting for Chanel’s presentation. Distinct from the previous show spectacles at the Grand Palais, this season had a distinctly more intimate ambiance. To maximize the engagement of the digital show, the French house invited 14 celebrities, including brand ambassadors and partners worldwide, to capture the moments while waiting for the premiere. Among the featured faces were Chinese singer Victoria Song, supermodel Liu Wen, and Korean idols Jennie and G-Dragon, which all amassed substantial traffic for the campaign.
Hermès’ creative director, Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski, chose to present Fall 2021 as a cross-continental triptych across three cities: New York, Paris, and Shanghai. It kicked off with a dance performance at the Armory in Manhattan, then was staged at the Garde Republicaine in Paris, and closed with Gu Jiani’s choreography in Shanghai.
The triptych was livestreamed on Weibo, gaining almost 6 million viewers. A collection preview in Shanghai had impressions totaling 50 million. At the center of all the attention was its iconic bag, the Birkin, reinvented as a 3-in-1: a standard bag, a tote, and a clutch.
Miu Miu’s show brought the audience to the snowy Italian Dolomites. The models, decked out in oversized ski suits paired with ski boots, were adventuring the summits and pursuing unknown destinations.
Miu Miu’s pre-show announcement was amplified by the Miu Miu Girl Yang Chaoyue, who shared the Weibo livestream invitation with her followers. The celebrity’s post was reposted over 235,000 times, driving over six million views to the show. This time, the brand relied less on media outlets and more on KOLs, successfully reaching a broader audience and more targeted consumers (Yang Chaoyue is widely recognized among netizens as perfectly matching Miu Miu’s brand DNA.)
A regular on the Paris schedule, MASHA MA used this season to address the in-between state of gender fluidity, mostly conveyed through color: neutral tones, featuring a combination of lime, moss green, and foggy white, projecting the image of a modern woman. New, skin-friendly textile combinations pushed expectations, as well, mixing mohair and alpaca wool with rare fabrics and Asian motifs to produce a bespoke pattern which echoed her “rebirth” metaphor.
The show received media attention in China from fashion outlets such as Cosmopolitan China, Dazed China, Harper’s Bazaar China, which allowed it to reach a broader audience beyond the designer’s social following.
DRIES VAN NOTEN
For Dries Van Noten’s Paris outing, dancers took the place of models. The physicality of their movements contrasted with our stationary selves, locked down amid the pandemic; everything was alive with movement and dazzled, even the sequins on dresses that sparkled in the light.
The choice to put the collection on dancers’ bodies has received wide recognition among media circles and fashion experts, reaching a sensational 84 million impressions on Weibo. As usual, Dries Van Noten did not promote the new collection with any KOLs, thus driving remarkably less traffic to its Weibo account.
Matthew Williams’ combination of utilitarian and luxury was hardcore in Givenchy’s outing. Faux fur, Harness bras, and tantalizing avant-garde heels added an experiential twist to the streetwear wardrobe and hinted at the tensions between extravagance and frugality.
Social engagement in China was lower than with other brands, even though the house announced its two ambassadors, Fan Chengcheng and Ouyang Nana, days before the show. Givenchy failed to leverage celebrity power to reach its Chinese audience and communicate the creative director’s design language with them.
Uma Wang called this season’s collection A Subconscious Museum. In a three-minute video, the designer invites the viewer into her dream — a blurred, unidentifiable place full of references from the past. The collection’s looks are dominated by layers of relaxed chemises and gigantic, wide-leg pants wrapped in granny-style oversized coats. The crumpled garments and exaggerated proportions (Wang signatures) evoke the nostalgic feeling of a child wearing their parent’s clothes.
As an established designer, Wang has fans at home and abroad. Her designs, which blend Chinese aesthetics and Western ideals, are stocked globally and backed up by 232,000 followers on Weibo. The release of the Fall 2021 season was announced on Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode and other major media accounts. Although the brand did not use any KOLs, the show generated impressive, organic content and received positive reactions from netizens.
While most brands went for relaxed, comfortable silhouettes or pandemic homewear in light of the lockdown, Thom Browne took an alternative approach. His monochrome looks were overwhelmingly constrained silhouettes or complex patterns — but then again, the designer has never been driven by commercial success. This creative world fascinates the press and consumers alike. His signatures, which are often his bestsellers, were all there as monogrammed classic pieces: the 4-bar shirt, the stitch stripe armband cardigan, and the university stripe grosgrain armband shirt.
To drive pre-show engagement, the brand leveraged fashion bloggers @空蛹出蝶 (2M) @Anny__Fan (5M) @月之海 (1M) @龚林轩 (594k) posting invitations to watch the show. After the show, the brand achieved a total of 127 million impressions from additional influential media platforms, illustrating its industry recognition and relevance with a digital generation.
The French house, now owned by Chinese conglomerate Fosun International, presented a music film to go with the Gwen Stefani song Rich Girl, featuring a real cameo by the rapper Eve. In the film, models enjoy a post-shopping spree amidst the glamorous backdrop of the Shangri-La Hotel.
With Bruno Sialelli at the helm, the brand rolled out an offline screening event in Shanghai, inviting fashion KOLs such as @Cristine Sun, @Chloe, and @Sarah Xu. However, the event failed to connect and largely went under the radar of netizens and was absent of big names with broader social followings.
Gabriela Hearst’s debut show for Chloé was highly anticipated, and she didn’t hesitate to put sustainability in the spotlight, which set the tone for Fall 2021. Her inspiration, fabrics, techniques, and silhouettes all contributed to her vision for the house, not straying far from its bohemian DNA. However, the show’s reception with local viewers was divided. Some had high expectations for the designer’s first presentation with the house, but a few netizens denounced it as “normal without newness” while bemoaning a lack of IT bags. The show’s engagement was much lower than the brand’s other product-oriented campaigns, which featured celebrity endorsements.
The Taiwanese luxury fashion brand’s latest Fall collection embodied the designer Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia’s power-dressing approach, which was popular in the 1970s. Chinese craftsmanship could be seen in its structured silhouettes, embroidered with traditional ink-brush strokes that resembled graffiti. Despite a look back at the brand’s heritage via social, from pre-show teasers to a digital presentation on social channels, the show failed to win over fans. It received many negative reactions from KOLs and netizens, particularly about its blurry brand position. “Neither younger nor mature consumers will pay for the designs,” said @Xu Qiujin about the collection.
Rick Owens’ Gethsemane was presented open-air at the Lido Beach in Venice; all models wore masks and walked for empty seats. Of course, the bespoke leather masks perfectly complemented the collection, evoking a mysterious atmosphere.
Rick Owens’ Weibo account stopped posting in 2019, yet the brand still has 192,000 followers. Still, this show secured nearly 30,000,000 impressions thanks to media and other fashion accounts. However, Owens’ conceptual approach to fashion is for the few. Most of the netizens mocked his avant-garde aesthetic, commenting, it “looks like Star Wars to me.” Yet, this only makes the Rick Owens community feel even more elite.
Reported by Wenzhuo Wu, Lisa Nan, and Gemma A. Williams.