The 15 Most Important Fashion Shows of 2020

To make the understatement of the century: this year in fashion was like no other.

To make the understatement of the century: this year in fashion was like no other. But philosophizing about what 2020 means for “the future of fashion” is less interesting than simply looking at fashion’s weird, beautiful, chaotic present. The first two months of the year brought the normal stampede of global fashion shows, and then the world stopped—and designers with it, in some cases. The ongoing pandemic and protests of the summer gave birth to digital fashion week, a strange and dystopian experiment that nonetheless brought some joy, lots of pretension, and some pretty fantastic clothes.

It’s perhaps an impossible task to say which fashion shows were the best or most important. But because trouble is fun, I decided to rank them—admittedly this is a moronically subjective exercise, and very likely I’ve missed many people’s favorites. But in a year when the fashion industry convulsed into a funhouse mirror image of itself, looking back on these two seasons of fashion shows tells us a lot about what happened this year, what mattered, and what things might look like in a year—or, at the very least, what we might be wearing.

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15. Rick Owens Fall 2020 menswear

Sometimes I think I don’t miss fashion shows—the waiting, the weird weather (it’s always weird!), the traffic, the wastefulness. But then I think about something like Rick Owens’s bombastic show in Paris last January, where two of the Migos fistbumped over a power-shoulder coat, and I sigh with nostalgia. The invitations were a heavy piece of engraved metal, which yours truly dropped on the concrete floor in the silent moment just before the show began, and everyone made fun of me for the rest of the week. It was precisely the kind of unwitting look-at-me-don’t-look-at-me performance that Owens was twistedly parodying with those huge, pleadingly boisterous shoes and shapes—and the kind of dressing-as-a-performance that I’m guessing will shape the next year in men’s style.

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