For the first time in fashion history, Paris, Milan and London are all taking their Fashion Weeks to the same place: online.

No flights necessary (or possible) to attend the upcoming fashion shows, which will instead manifest into digital ephemera like videos, podcasts, webinars and live performances. That’s “live” in the sense that it’s taking place in real time, not the other definition of the word that means “in the flesh”, which the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered all but obsolete.

But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The folks at Lasalle College of the Arts certainly don’t see it that way, not as they prepare for the very first digital iteration of The Lasalle Show. That’s the art institute’s annual exhibition of works by their graduating cohort, which opens on 2 June on the school’s website and will encompass various creative disciplines such as film, music, fine arts and theatre.

“In these challenging times, we believe it is more important than ever to uplift people’s spirits with the arts,” explained Lasalle President, Professor Steve Dixon, over email on the school’s decision to bring The Lasalle Show online, echoing the sentiments of many a fashion brand. “We believe it is vital that our students’ work joins the global conversation on the role of art in a time of physical isolation and digital connection, asking what art can do during this period and how we find common ground in our humanity.”

Graduate collection by Felicia Agatha (Photo credit: Lasalle College of the Arts)
Graduate collection by Felicia Agatha (Photo credit: Lasalle College of the Arts)

Singapore’s social distancing measures were also taken into account, but Dixon saw a world of opportunities in abiding by those physical restrictions. “A digital exhibition lets us celebrate our class of 2020 graduands and showcase the output of their creativity in a safe and accessible environment,” he says. “It also means that for the first time, The Lasalle Show will be available for audiences around the world to enjoy.”

As long as you have a WiFi connection, you’re invited to the showcase. No longer will you need to pull some strings to see the works of the fashion design students up close, which are usually presented in the very glamorous format of a fashion show.

Like Fashion Week, this year’s Lasalle Graduate Fashion Show will take a very different form — one that Dinu Bodiciu, the lecturer-in-charge of Lasalle’s Fashion Design and Textiles Programme, sheds some light on in the interview below.

What did Lasalle originally have planned for the fashion showcase?

As an industry that sets trends and are early adopters of innovation, fashion is fast moving away from established modes of presentation and exploring alternative means. In all honesty, our plan this year had long been to replace the typical runway show with a digital experience that imagined models as fixed entities and the audience as the ones moving or perusing the collection. The current pandemic therefore concurs with our initial intention.

What mediums are being used to showcase the work of fashion graduands?

We’ll be using videos and images across a variety of platforms, including The LASALLE Show website and social media.

What are the factors that the school had to consider when planning the online showcase?

Firstly, technical specifications such as maximum file sizes that can be uploaded and capacity of servers to host and load multimedia assets were definitely things on our minds. Other factors we also had to consider were clarity (whether we accurately captured and presented the ideas of the graduating class) and finding the right partners to collaborate with.

 

Graduate collection by Latika Balachander (Photo credit: Lasalle College of the Arts)
Graduate collection by Latika Balachander (Photo credit: Lasalle College of the Arts)
Who were the people involved in making the online showcase possible?

All the lecturers from Lasalle’s School of Fashion came together to make this possible. The students as well were very cooperative and eager to see their showcase become a success.

What are the key differences between showcasing the work of fashion students online and staging an actual fashion show?

There is a ‘staged’ aspect to the digital that will always ‘haunt’ the medium. What I mean is that the digital enables us to organise and better curate the perspective for the viewer, which in essence is the same angle as the maker, and so what the audience ends up watching is something through the director’s eyes. It’s like a cinematic experience and a new way to draw attention to the garments.

The use of social media platforms also gives the event a sense of immediacy that allows the audience to establish faster and more direct dialogue with the designers. In an actual show, this usually happens post-runway but with the digital, it can happen simultaneously as the audience is looking at the collection on- screen. Of course, aspects such as the tactile experience will not be available digitally.

 

Graduate collection by Kwok Minh Yen (Photo credit: Lasalle College of the Arts)
Graduate collection by Kwok Minh Yen (Photo credit: Lasalle College of the Arts)
How will the role of the audience change now that the event is now digital?

As mentioned earlier, the digital diminishes the distance between the designer and audience. I believe also that with the safety of a screen, there is a certain level of anonymity and this further encourages audiences to participate and ‘react’ more openly. Viewers are thus more ‘present’.

What do you hope that people will take away from the digital experience?

New ideas, fresh stories and good content that inspire further reflection.

The Lasalle Show opens on 2 June on the school’s website. All images courtesy of Lasalle College of the Arts.

Pameyla Cambe
Senior Writer
Pameyla Cambe is a fashion and jewellery writer who believes that style and substance shouldn't be mutually exclusive. She makes sense of the world through Gothic novels, horror films and music. Lots of music.