HEC Professor Anne Michaut and WWD Editor Miles Socha discuss the return of in-person fashion weeks

The Catwalk through the Eyes of Renowned Fashion Editor Miles Socha

If you weren’t lucky enough to score seats at the big-name shows of Milan or Paris’s Fashion Weeks, the restaurant Treize au Jardin was the next best place to be.

That’s because Miles Socha, the editor-in-chief of Women’s Wear Daily, spent the evening of March 10 at the whimsical Parisian eatery regaling HEC Paris MBA and EMBA students with his fresh-from-the-catwalk tales.

A captivated student audience

A captivated audience (photo courtesy Sandra Soriano, MBA ’23)

“Paris Fashion Week just ended yesterday,” Miles explained, “and we’re at the stage when we try to distill the things that happened and dive deeper, to see what may or may not end up as stories in Women’s Wear Daily. I’ve written down about a page and a half of anecdotes to share with you.”

The exclusive presentation, organized by the HEC Paris MBA’s Retail and Luxury Club, featured the editor of the trade journal long considered the “bible of fashion,” in conversation with HEC Paris Professor Anne Michaut, director of the school’s LVMH academic chair. Together Miles and Anne discussed the trends that currently influence the superstar houses, including how the war in Ukraine affected the return to in-person fashion weeks.

Cocktail of the evening (Chandon Spritz)

Drink of the evening (photo by Sandra Soriano, MBA ’23)

“Many designers were banking on the end of the pandemic and fashion having another Roaring 20s moment,” Miles said. “Their collections were already designed. As the invasion started, a lot of designers scaled back their shows to reflect the mood.” In particular, he mentioned the Giorgio Armani show, in which models strutted in eerie silence without music, the Valentino hot-pink collection, which was precluded by a voice-over asking people to stand up for love, and Balenciaga’s letter from Demna Gvasalia in which the house’s creative director recounted his memories of being a Georgian refugee.

Regarding the Balenciaga show, which became a social-media sensation for having models parade in the equivalent of an ominous snow globe, Miles and Anne agreed that the spectacle was part of the bigger wave of turning fashion shows into performances. “Fashion’s biggest brands are behaving more like entertainment companies, creating events and competing for eyeballs in the attention economy,” Miles explained.

No discussion of current trends would be complete with addressing the rise of the Metaverse. As attendees sipped delicious chilled chandon spritzes, Miles talked about how the luxury houses were dipping their toes in the virtual world’s waters. “During the fashion weeks there were a lot of parallels where designers showed real-world fashion coupled with an NFT or a virtual fashion,” he said. “There are already companies who create real fashions from virtual fashions. In the future, I think there will be more of a merging of the two worlds.”

Retail and Luxury Club President Jacklyn Burgo presents Miles to the audienceJacklyn Burgo

Retail and Luxury Club President Jacklyn Burgo introduces Miles to the audience (photo by Sandra Soriano, MBA ’23)

Naturally, the evening was a roaring success. “Attending events like this are exactly why I wanted to study at HEC, even though I don’t intend to go into luxury,” said Ashley Lin, Communications Officer for the HEC Paris MBA’s Blockchain Club. “Events like this are so easily accessible here and I see it as a quintessential part of my French HEC experience. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out.”

For Retail and Luxury Club President Jacklyn Burgo, the event was an opportunity to showcase the creative side of luxury fashion. “Oftentimes, as MBA students we only focus on the business-driving side of fashion, but this industry is inherently a marriage between creativity and business,” she explained.  “As we explore post-MBA opportunities, we wanted our membership well informed on both lenses.”