China Fashion Week takes place without an audience - in pictures

Models present creations to an all-but empty room as part of the autumn/winter 2020 China Fashion Week

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In the empty atrium of a grandiose building in Beijing, China, models took to the runway this week to present creations by Chinese designers such as Peng Jing and Zhou Li.

All the accoutrements of such an event were in situ – spotlights beamed overhead and a small group of photographers, ensconced in face masks and gloves, gathered at one end of the room. But what some might, two months ago, have considered to be the key component of any fashion show, was noticeably missing. An audience.

BEIJING, CHINA - MAY 03:  A model walks the runway at the DEJIN collection show by Chinese designer Zhou Li during the China Fashion Week 2020/2021 A/W Collection on May 3, 2020 in Beijing, China. Affected by the COVID-19 virus, China Fashion Week is showing for the first time without an audience.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
A model walks the runway at the Dejin collection show by Chinese designer Zhou Li during China Fashion Week autumn/winter 2020/21. Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Models presented their elaborate embroidered gowns, severe-looking dress coats and expansive bridal wear to an all but empty room, bar the video camera set up in one corner, relaying the scene in real-time to viewers around the world.

The online approach taken by the China Fashion Association is a true testament to its enterprising vision, strength and ingenuity

The audience-free autumn/winter 2020 China Fashion Week is taking place this week, heralding a new era for the traditional fashion week format. Following the lead of Shanghai Fashion Week, which switched to an entirely digital format in March, the 22-year-old China Fashion Week has gone entirely digital.

As the event’s official partner, online e-commerce site Secoo is exclusively presenting more than 100 live stream sessions of fashion shows and presentations until May 7. Some content will also be made available on YouTube, WeChat and Weibo, and the initiative is expected to reach up to 500,000 online viewers.

Dubbed “the cloud fashion week”, this season’s unprecedented edition of China Fashion Week has adopted the theme: Rebuild. Innnovate. 2020. A total of 170 designers from China and more than 60 international brands from 15 countries, including France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand are taking part, with over 70 brands holding livestream “see-now, buy-now” sessions, where participants can purchase looks directly from the virtual runway. Designers from this part of the world that are taking part include Palais Des Argano, Twisted Roots, Niili, House of MC, The Zay Initiative and Bakhtz.

The event will also host four sessions of the China Fashion Forum, focusing on topics such as technology, sustainability, and brand and consumer engagement.

Speaking about the China Fashion Association, the body behind China Fashion Week, for its move to a digital-only schedule, Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, chairman of the board of directors at Hala China, which spearheads links between the UAE and China, says: “The online approach taken by the China Fashion Association is a true testament to its enterprising vision, strength and ingenuity.”