The future of the fashion show

Published September 1, 2020, 5:13 PM

by John Legaspi

These fashion students present industry issues in their first virtual graduation show.

No more rushing to get front row seats. Say goodbye to street style photographers. Live fashion shows take a back seat in this year of pandemic. 

For many, nothing can replace the theatricality of a runway show. Fashion houses and the global retail industry, however, are thinking of ways to survive the crisis, and the best option is to keep the spirit of the runway alive through virtual shows, taking pieces from IRL to the URL.

Another facet of runway shows that has been affected is the yearly graduation shows. Taking the same alternative, fashion schools are pushed to take their ceremonies to the web. One of these schools is La Salle in Singapore as it presents its graduating students under BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Textiles in its first ever virtual runway show.

“The world we live in today is more unpredictable than ever. This pandemic alone has ground the world to a halt and increased our online consumption to curb social isolation,” says Circe Henestrosa, head of the School of Fashion at La Salle. “Although the fashion industry has long functioned based on the expectation that a runway has to be present, we are already seeing fashion houses worldwide begin to explore different ways to present their new collections.” 

“To some extent, the change has arisen out of ongoing conversations about sustainability and the future direction of fashion. We believe it is more important than ever that our students graduate with a consciousness of these issues and the role of fashion in this changing world,” Henestrosa says. 

Dubbed as Society of the Spectacle, the digital show is an artistic display of the collections of 17 up-and-coming fashion designers. It aims to answer French philosopher Guy Debord‘s 1967 note that says, “All that was once directly lived has become mere representation.” With the world now finding a bigger space on the internet, boundaries are blurring between digital and analogue realities. The show aims to offer its viewers ideas and other possibilities that are beyond the imagination through the designs of future’s fashion visionaries.

“In our constant quest for new experiences, the current situation provides us with an exciting avenue to explore technology, augmented realities, and the limits of our imagination,” says Dinu Bodiciu, lecturer-in-charge, Ba (Hons) Fashion Design and Textiles Programme at La Salle. “Society of the Spectacle questions the audience’s embodied presence, asking if our digital lived experiences are as they seem. We are especially proud of our class of 2020 for their inventiveness and adaptability as they pioneer this first ever digital show.” 

Keeping it relevant to the times, the graduating students have created mini-collections that revolve around industry themes such as Sustainability, Future Forward, Heritage, Textures, and Body and Identity. Check out how some of the students interpreted these themes in their graduation collection. 


Kwok Minh Yen took inspiration on coral bleaching and global warming for her “1.5°C” collection. The textiles and details are developed based on the structure and texture of the coral and its skeleton, with white being the core color scheme. She interpreted the coral skeleton in her designs through knitting and using scrap materials, making them the perfect contrast to her billowy silhouettes.


Think of the space suits in films Ad Astra and Apollo 11 but with a contemporary twist, Jensen Ng‘s “Colossal Beings” is a collection deeply rooted in his love of sci-fi films and interstellar space exploration. It depicts a future where clothing is seasonless, and where plus-size is no longer a separate category. Most of the pieces are made with latex and have finishes made of resin liquid, something that he used to play with in his childhood, to add texture.


Lee Cha Yeong‘s “Ggogga-ot” collection melds the traditional Korean hanbok with modern design in order to empower plus-sized women. She is using the traditional hanbok style, translating it into pieces that fit the image of a modern woman. “I hope to see bigger-sized women wearing whatever they want to wear,” she says. “I want to see them walking around with passion and enthusiasm.”


Adhya Tibrewala channels a love for texture through lines and pleats with her “Emove” collection. Though her designs are painted with bright and cheery colors, underneath the pieces are linear details depicting distorted faces that mirror grief and depression. 

“A couple of months ago, I lost my grandfather, and it being the first significant loss I had ever experienced. It really got to me,” she says. “I embraced these ambiguous feelings through the lines I created in my garments.” 


Just like the ’80s ballroom documentary Paris is Burning, “Fembouynt!” by Samuel Xun explores queerness through artifice, irony, and high aestheticism. His collection is like a standalone episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race replete with bejeweled pumps, skin-baring pieces made cheeky with pastries, balloon flowers, and pillows for a touch of the avant garde.