Catch Up on the Best Moments From Day Two of Vogue’s Forces of Fashion Summit

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Most of us saw clips of Demna Gvasalia’s debut couture show for Balenciaga on Instagram yesterday, but this morning at Vogue’s Forces of Fashion conference, in partnership with Porsche as part of “The Art of the Drive,” we got a rare treat. The show was replayed in its entirety—with no soundtrack, just whooshes of fabric—before Gvasalia joined Vogue Runway’s global director Nicole Phelps to discuss the collection. From his decision to omit music (“I wanted the clothes to speak for themselves”) to the intricacies of his couture jeans, he answered questions about his couture debut and shared what he learned about himself in the process. 

“What I love most about fashion and making clothes, it’s the way the clothes make us feel,” he said. “It’s the way they transform us… I think that’s the magic that, in ready-to-wear, is hard to experience today, because we do too many products in a very short period of time. But couture actually is the place in which that magic is preserved. I learned that through couture, I feel at peace with fashion.” 

And that was all before 10:00am. Gvasalia and Phelps’s chat was followed by a roundtable hosted by Vogue editor Chioma Nnadi with five independent designers: Thebe Magugu, Studio 189’s Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, Yueqi Qi, and Priya Ahluwalia. Conversation ranged from running a small business during the pandemic to the best advice they’ve received, especially when it comes to staying true to your vision. “[Fashion] can be extremely fast moving, and cashflow can be up and down, so staying focused on what you set out to do can really help,” Ahluwalia said. 

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“[It’s about] having conviction in what you do,” Magugu adds. “Some people expect a performance [from me], or a stereotypical representation of what fashion from Africa looks like. You have to believe in what you do and not be swayed by misinformed criticism.”

Vogue’s Janelle Okwodu spoke to stylist and entrepreneur Karla Welch about mentorship, followed by a discussion between British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful and Pat McGrath about McGrath’s prolific career in the beauty industry. Forces of Fashion viewers also got access to a tour of Vogue international editor at large Hamish Bowles’s extensive fashion archive with Marc Jacobs. They flipped through scores of vintage treasures and discussed the intricacies of fabric and construction—Bowles pointed out a draped Cristóbal Balenciaga dress that was ingeniously cut from a single piece of silk—and even stumbled upon a look from one of Jacobs’s early-’90s Perry Ellis collections. 

The day ended with a conversation between two other likeminded creatives, Billie Eilish and Alessandro Michele, moderated by Nnadi. The musician and creative director recalled their first red carpet collaborations, Eilish’s early fascination with masks (long before COVID made them a health requirement), and their shared passion for constant change and transformation. An image of Eilish’s June 2021 British Vogue cover flashed on the screen; when it was revealed in May, it prompted headlines about her “new look” and sparked outrage from people who preferred her “signature” style. “When the cover came out, I knew what everyone would say, but I didn’t care because the whole point was to prove that I can be whatever I want to be, and I’m not going to conform to something I used to be, or something you want me to be,” she said. Michele was quick to concur: “I totally agree.” 

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You can watch their full conversation and the rest of today’s panels starting tomorrow on Vogue’s Forces of Fashion website. Until then, catch up on yesterday’s conversations here

Forces of Fashion is Presented by Porsche

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