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Amid concerns about the economy and our collective health, the Fall 2020 fashion collections presented in New York, London, Milan and Paris over the past month still favoured spectacle over anything remotely subdued​

Balenciaga

A model walks the runway during the Balenciaga as part of Paris Fashion Week on March 1, 2020, in Paris.Estrop/Getty Images

Balenciaga immersed its Paris audience in a dramatic and apocalyptic world, reflecting on the state of our own. Guests were surrounded by LED screens projecting stormy seas and skies on fire, and the entire runway was under water. An almost entirely black collection of leathers, capes and sharp shouldered silhouettes added a sartorial connection to the doom-and-gloom mood.

Gucci

Models present creations for Gucci's Women Fall - Winter 2020 collection on Feb. 19, 2020, in Milan.MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images

Guests of the Gucci show in Milan were all given backstage access. Through black curtains, they entered into a strangely calm and quiet behind-the-scenes space that became the centrepiece of the show. As the stage began to rotate, robed models entered followed by makeup artists and dressers, revealing the fashion frenzy that’s usually hidden away from view.

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs greets the audience during the runway finale at the Marc Jacobs Fall 2020 runway show during New York Fashion Week on Feb. 12, 2020, in New York City.DIMITRIOS KAMBOURIS/Getty Images

Marc Jacobs’s New York show opened with a spotlight and a brief appearance by choreographer and "punk ballerina” Karole Armitage. What followed was a chaotic and theatrical performance with dancers stomping, twirling and crawling their way around the giant dance floor, intersecting with groups of models parading around in a mixture of 1950s’-era gowns and minimalist nineties looks reminiscent of Marc Jacobs’s early collections.

Molly Goddard

Londoner Molly Goddard took inspiration from the past with a collection full of childlike nostalgia at fashion week.Ben Broomfield/Courtesy of manufacturer

While most designers this seasons looked toward the future, Londoner Molly Goddard took inspiration from the past with a collection full of childlike nostalgia. The feeling was optimistic and grand, as models clad in sweetly coloured Fair-Isle sweaters and layers of taffeta and tulle gowns walked through guests seated at dining-room tables. For a moment, the chaos of fashion month and the world swirling around it disappeared, as the crowd happily sipped on white wine and munched on bread and butter.

Chanel

Chanel's Ready-to-Wear Collection decor of the runway within the Paris Grand Palais space.Gary Schermann/Courtesy of Chanel

Even when it is stripped down to its most minimal staging, a Chanel show is a spectacle. Massive, white sculpture-like seating weaved through Paris’s Grand Palais like icebergs floating atop a mirrored runway. Models casually walked arm in arm, sometimes conversing with one another. That’s a rare sight on a runway and brought forth a feeling of female togetherness that helped end the month of shows on a brighter note.

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