Interview with Serge CARREIRA (Fashion and luxury expert & professor at Sciences Po)
By Thomas ZYLBERMAN (Stylist & Trends analyst at CARLIN Creative Trend Bureau)
Louis Vuitton Cruise 2020 Vanity Fair
THOMAS ZYLBERMAN : Whereas the main houses have just revealed their Resort show, the Pre-fall collections presented a few months ago are now heading to shops. I propose we shed some light on “mid-season collections”. We are all under the impression that Pre-Fall don’t have the same status as Cruises/Resort collections. The latter’s purpose, as implied by its name, is more than clear, and their historical origin is equally well known. Pre-Falls, however, are more recent and it seems only logical to ask: what are they for, exactly?
SERGE CARREIRA : Their calling goes along the lines of Resort collections. Essentially, Pre-Falls are always delivered in advance of the season (Fall). The subsequently emerging issue is to understand if seasons are still of any significance today – among other reasons, their role is also to guarantee a longest-as-possible duration in shops and boutiques, knowing that sales periods have been brought forward (in particular in the United States). With the development of e-commerce, we note that there is a trigger of discounts and rebates that starts increasingly earlier, followed by sales in brick and mortar shops that do not wish to be left behind. And thus these pre-collections, whether we’re talking about Resort or Pre-Fall, are precisely intended to serve as a basis of big Maison’s new message – and above all, to rebalance the seasons a bit. Traditionally fashion operated under the summer season, stretching from January to June, and the winter season, which started around the end of August/beginning of September until the end of December. Between a summer season that covers the entire year until June, and a winter season that is reduced to the much shorter period between September and December, these pre-collections that generally arrive in April or May make room for a breath of fresh air and for a renewal of boutiques offers more regularly.
T.Z : Aren’t Pre-Falls something like Resorts’/Cruises’ poor relative, for which the Maisons always reserve a substantial amount of their budget for grandiose fashion shows at prestigious venues, while Pre-Falls are universally much lower profile? Is this distinction related to history, to the origin of these collections?
S.C : There is a certain evolution to be observed. These collections have always existed but haven’t received widespread publicity during a prolonged amount of time. Since a couple of seasons now, they have been put into the limelight in a large extent and in a plurality of ways. Some debut during Couture’s fashion shows, a little off schedule – we can cite Miu Miu as an example, who did this several times by presenting their Pre-Fall collection in Paris accompanied by mini fashion shows or with another type of presentation. Many Houses follow suit, as did Hermès with its Pre-Fall presentation at 24 Faubourg last Sunday. There are events that take advantage of this calendar; events where there is particular attention paid to the novelty aspect of said collections. Otherwise, another option is to include Pre-Fall pieces in men’s collections. Through the organization of men’s fashion shows, it gives the Pre-Fall collection a unique spirit, a new dynamic that then represents the collection. It also allows to create a relationship with what will happen on the catwalks in February or in March.
Dior Cruise 2020 gettyimages Photo Stephane Cardinale
T.Z : It’s true that it’s quite fascinating to be able to compare male and female silhouettes in the same context.
S.C : Absolutely! Moreover, they also enable the Houses to create a certain unity in the show’s pace, backstage…
T.Z : And for a fraction of the cost!
S.C : Agreed. Since the two collections are released simultaneously, it permits a more uniform way of presenting them. Also included now in women’s shows are men’s silhouettes, which only adds to their remarkableness. Otherwise there are Houses – like Chanel, for example – that will take the pretext of Métiers d’Art(fine craftsmanship) and have the same theme for the crafts and the Pre-Fall collection.
T.Z : We’ve all hear the rumors countless times – is it still true? – that the pre-collections are visibly less creative than the principal collections introduced during press shows? Isn’t this just due to the fact that creativity is used differently? Shows are of service to the power of the brand and to its claws; while in pre-collections, creativity is focused on the garment, the silhouette and the product itself. Are the pre-collections thus just simply more “commercial”?
S.C : In today’s world, from the moment the collections are made public and become the center piece of fashion events, this dimension – of collections that were initially indeed commercial collections, which where the commercial basis of a brand’s offer and which where later exploited in a perhaps more creative and fun way during fashion shows – today this dimension exists in both. We are talking about collections here that must be – more than ever – new, produce a new image and give off new impulses – because just as with new fashion shows, there are new windows and storefronts to be built, and new stories that are constructed around this newness in boutiques. Thus these pre-collections must contain a strong theme, a creative backbone just as strong as those of the main collections. This fact is what makes it possible to differentiate, to distinguish oneself from the others – and as mentioned before, today both can include a commercial dimension. This enables designers to create pieces that are declinations of another creation of theirs – declensions that thus get to see the light of the world and exist in people’s wardrobes, in the world of accessories etc.
T.Z : During the presentation of the main collections the message is often so short, literally hammered into twenty minutes, that the guests only gets a spectrum of an “extreme” expression, almost caricatural. In contrast, mid-season collections dispose of a more “humanistic” dimension since they answer the question of the worn, of a functional and practical wardrobe, and especially the question of the client. They are centered on the garment and less so on its communication and image.
S.C : Yes. On the other hand, however, there is an important dimension compared to this idea of a seasonality problematic. We cannot deny that these collections have taken a large piece of the cake. These pre-collections, even if they are called “Pre-Fall”, are typically full on summer collections. We know they are finished and delivered in April – to be bought and worn immediately – meaning the client will wear these clothes to go on vacation and for summer in general. These collections thus allow the Maisons to adjust the disordered schedule of seasons’ succession. Traditionally designers created cotton dresses that arrived to boutiques in January, and winter coats that arrived in June/July. Hence these collections represent something truly mid-seasonal. They also create a bridge making way for customers’ increasingly important desire to buy a product and wear it immediately. And this accompanies the very strong development of the sector, as well as the transformation of the consumer profile – whose principal feature is that they want to consume and wear immediately (or, at least, in the following 3 months). Pre-collections, without needing to explicitly state it, fill this blank in, something like a “climatic adjustment” for the lack of a better description. Because if we reflect purely on the names of fashion collections today, “winter” arrives in the hottest months of the year and “summer” in the colder ones, we are in some sort of complete dichotomy between the denomination and the product itself. By simply looking at any fashion show we can determine that it is no longer rare to see coats included in “summer”, yet 15 years ago it was absolutely out of question to see swimsuits in “winter”. What is amusing about this situation is that in a way, one roughly approaches the temporality of Haute Couture, which presents the collection of the season almost “instantly”.
Chloe Paris pre-fall 19
Chanel Croisière 2020 Photo Alessandro Lucioni
T.Z : These pre-collections also establish a rewarding and favorable positioning of the very powerful brands, there are very few houses that can afford to organize a real show for their pre-collections, meaning most of the time they take the form of “look books” or very simplified catwalks. Ultimately, only the big Maisons can afford to make a spectacle – or very strong brands like Koché or Y/Project that are fortunate enough to benefit from some form of institutional support.
Thanks to Serge Carreira for this discussion about pre-collections and its issues.
Koche pre-fall 2019 Photo Indigital