Further Covid-19 Restrictions Looming, Coperni Fuels Paris Fashion Week With Hope

A model walks the runway during the Coperni show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter … [+]

Step Aside Jean-Paul Gaultier and Hedi Slimane. Paris has a new designer Enfant Terrible. Though in this case, it’s a duo Sébastien Mayer and Arnaud Vaillant of Coperni. With a ’99 percent’ digital format for the Fall Winter 2021 Paris Fashion Week, the ANDAM-winning prize designers staged the week’s only audience-attended runway show. It coincided Thursday night as France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex gave his latest presser foreboding warnings of the tenuous health situation and slights adjusts to the current Covid-19 restrictions for the capital city. The defilé managed to both adhere to health and safety guidelines while feeling rebellious. The label emerged as the David of PFW, whose collection sprang hope of good times to come post-pandemic.

It also reeked of clever French ingenuity. The pair managed to circumvent the restrictions on gathering with two components: Thirty-six DS Automobile chauffeured cars and the Accor Arena at Bercy. First guests received a Justificatif de Déplacement Professionnel to break the 6 PM curfew in Paris legally under current requirements. Cars had roughly two passengers plus chauffer retrieved guests at their residence and delivered them to the dark stadium. Each vehicle received an explosives security check and a windshield squeegee to ensure a clear view. Guests were instructed to remain in the car – nicely stocked with a refreshment goodie bag – for the shows’ duration. Several, however, including this attendee, poked their heads through the sunroof once the show began. The cars were parked in neatly marked spots on the floor, helping to form the runway and ambiance along the way. The vibe was both underground nightclub and Superbowl-worthy car commercial.


In its infancy, the brand has made quite a splash with its fashion shows, last season boasting the world’s tallest fashion show atop the Tour Montparnasse. Here they debuted a new Coperni-developed anti-bacterial jersey to respond to the current health crisis for Spring 2021. Pulling off the only live show also tested their boundary-pushing abilities.

A model on the Coperni runway show on March 04, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Kristy … [+]

“We made sure to be respectful of the rules and careful of the circumstances to operate in the safest possible way when planning this production,” said Vaillant adding, “The sheer logistics of the 36 electric cars – arranging the pick-up of everyone at their homes, synchronizing the arrival times, testing the staff and the drivers and getting everyone home safely. It’s no easy feat!” The drivers who typically wait outside shows were not only spectators but helped stage the runway lighting. “We were cued to turn on our headlights in synchronization for the start of the show,” said Patrick Bailey, a driver for Corporate Driver who supplied the production with the chauffers.

According to Vaillant and Mayer, Coperni has always been tech-inspired. Thus, “everything we do, including the AW 2021 collection, has a strong, forward-thinking DNA running through the design, the fabrics, our campaigns, shows and special projects.” The current regulations inspired them to propose a solution to the no live-audience shows allowed ruling by the Paris prefecture.

The closing model walk at Coperni. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images)

“We wanted to explore a way in which we could adapt to the current world climate, safety-issues and health regulations – responding by devising a format that could see the new season come to life with a live recording of the catwalk but of course in a safe and considered way,” said Mayer of the unique production, “We worked closely with FHCM (Federation de la Haute Couture et Mode) knowing this was the only live filming happening this way. It’s a world-first allowing guests to remain in their sanitized bubble and integrate that space in the show. It didn’t disappoint!”

Indeed, it didn’t. It reinforced the roaring 20s mood that fashion insiders have been predicting will follow once the Coronavirus isn’t topping daily headlines. The Coperni girls (and boys) exuded sexiness and a sense of freedom, poised ready to dance the night away.

“We are always ready for the party – this is about celebrating what we love, being inspired by our beautiful friends and support network while looking to the (hopefully close) future when we can break off the shackles and burst back to our treasured reality!” exclaimed Vaillant.

While Parisians narrowly escaped the proposed addition of a weekend lockdown thanks to Macron, Castex’s new measures include potential closures of outdoor areas to prevent gatherings. (Additionally, stores more than 10,000 square-meters will be forced to close, down from the 20,000 square-meters cap enforced during the last round of health-related restrictions implemented.)

Thus, as ready to party this collection was, ostensibly, the flirty one-shoulder dresses with zip-away zipper treatments, crystal rhinestone studded thigh hi boots and bags and white Mack Daddy faux furs will have to wait to hit the dance floor. Fortunately, there was also plenty of tailoring with a modern touch suitable for daywear until such raves begin again.

Model Mica Arganaraz poses backstage prior to the Coperni show.. (Photo by Kay-Paris … [+]

“This season it’s about exploring the night-life that we miss so much because of the situation and looking forward to a time when we will be reunited with our loved ones, with the dance-floor, music and laughter,” said Mayer. In the meantime, uncovering the advanced tech details will more than suffice. The designers have the future in mind with all their designs. To wit jetlag curing green light sunglasses, tech inspired ‘It’ bags with Wifi signals and Iphone’ padlocks’ and intelligent fabrics that contain moisturizing and anti-bacterial properties.

“We are TECH OBSESSED – but not in a gadget-y, gimmicky way,” said Vaillant adding, “it’s about using science and modern developments to make our lives practical and slick.” He also hinted at the new brand campaign for SS2021 that will be another “world-first using the most incredible technology that made it a joy and a real boundary-pushing experience.”

With such stellar and memorable shows, it’s hard to imagine the next bold move, especially for Vaillant and Mayer. But at least they already have something in mind. “Who knows what is next – hopefully, an environment where we can dance, sing, laugh and love with our friends, family and more.”

I am an award-winning Paris-based American journalist covering luxury and fashion industries with over 25 years of experience. I spent over 18 years at the industry


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