What It Was Really Like To Be At Fashion Month In 2021

Eight influencers talk about the IRL experience.

Darrel Hunter
Chloé Harrouche at PFW Fall/Winter 2021

The last time the full fashion crowd — influencers, editors, and buyers included — all gathered together in person was at the beginning of March 2020, while ending the fashion cycle in Paris. During the Spring/Summer 2021 shows, most international attendees opted out for the first time ever. And this season, a year later, more restrictions were set in place, posing an even bigger challenge to the influencers who built their careers off of showcasing their personal fashion sense — especially during these two months of the year. However, a handful of local Milan and Paris-based influencers took the streets during Fashion Month Fall/Winter 2021, finding alternative solutions to display their style.

These days, street style might not be as spontaneous as the pre-pandemic days, but in turn, it’s allowing for everyday residents to pose in front of the camera. “I love how photographers are going deep to the core into the streets photographing stylish people, [and] not just people we’re used to seeing during fashion weeks,” Mitchel Tanyaradzwa, a fashion writer who attended Milan fashion week this season, tells TZR.

In fact, almost every aspect of the experience is now is a lot more inclusive. “This meant that for the first time, the exclusive gates — usually only open to a handful of selected fashion elite — were dissolved, and said elite saw everything the same way any regular person interested in fashion,” influencer Lois Opoku tells TZR. Now, with most shows being live-streamed, everyone has access to tune in. And, if you happen to live in one of the major cities, you can get in on the action by seeing what’s going on outside the venues.

Ahead, TZR talked to eight influencers about their experience during Fashion Month Fall/Winter 2021. And if you don't already, consider following these street style stars on IG to see how they continue to find new ways to showcase their unique fashion sense.

Influencer At Fashion Month: Ilenia Toma

Darrel Hunter

Milan-based influencer Ilenia Toma, who was pictured during MFW this season, didn’t actually attend any of the shows. But even under the circumstances, she’s still trying her best to see pieces IRL: “I did a meeting with two brands in the past months to see their new collection and everything was extremely restricted,” she explains.

Every influencer has their own views on street style during a virtual fashion month. For Toma, she feels that street style was much more organic pre-pandemic. “You go to shows and presentations and the street style photographers are there to catch you,” the influencer says. “Now, where no physical events are happening, you actually get contacted by photographers who are in town if you are up for a street style shooting which is, of course, set up and not as spontaneous as it used to be.” But, the outfits Toma wore to these meetings were the same as she’d wear to the shows during a normal fashion week. That being said, she believes this is a good way to present outfits and shoot them in a more relaxed atmosphere. (In the photo above, Toma wore a Sportmax look during MFW.)

Influencer At Fashion Month: Mitchel Tanyaradzwa

Darrel Hunter

For Tanyaradzwa, it was heartbreaking to see Milan so empty this year. “It’s a city that’s so cultured with fashion and the streets immensely packed with stylish people, [so] having to experience fashion week this way was sad,” she tells TZR. As for the runway shows, she says now you’re able to witness how designers are doing their best to spread love through their shows, and remind everyone that through fashion, we still can stand up together as we go through this pandemic.

Fashion Month Fall/Winter 2021 Street Style: Lois Opoku

Darrel Hunter

According to influencer Lois Opoku, the latest set of shows was a bit more restricted compared to the Spring/Summer 2021 shows. “I didn't attend any physical shows this season as the rules and regulations made it almost impossible to travel,” Opoku explains. “Unlike last season where a small handful of people were allowed to gather, and shows or presentations were handled with time slots or with a very limited amount of guests to ensure everyone's safety.” But, the influencer was still strolling around Paris in some can’t-miss outfits (above, her tiger print coat and neon pink accessories were a killer combination).

Influencer At Fashion Month: Géraldine Boublil

Darrel Hunter

Even if you so much as glanced at street style photos from past fashion months, you’ve likely spotted Paris-based influencer Géraldine Boublil. This March, the trendsetter was still present, however, she says the experience wasn’t quite as exciting as it used to be. “There was only one physical show during Paris Fashion Week: Acne Studios,” she tells TZR. “We didn’t sit with friends, but we were able to walk around together through the big venue and shoot the models, and the details of the looks.”

Boublil does believe that digital shows allowed brands to get more creative. “Some were creative short films, some regular fashion shows but filed differently, [and] some more like art exhibitions.” One bonus of a digital experience for the influencer? “I’m able to pick up my kids from school, which is great.”

Influencer At Fashion Month: Maria Bernad

Darrel Hunter

“Fashion week [has] become something completely different,” Paris-based influencer Maria Bernad tells TZR. “Everything is less personal, but it’s making everyone create new ways to show their collections.” Like Toma, Bernard also thinks that street style is less spontaneous these days. Before, the photographers were just waiting outside the shows waiting to capture dozens of looks. Now, however, she says it’s more planned out.

Influencer At Fashion Month: Chloé Harrouche

Darrel Hunter

“In many ways, the restrictions currently in place allowed for more creativity, a sort of reinvention of what a fashion show should look and feel like,” Paris-based influencer Chloé Harrouche tells TZR. “It brought all of us out of our comfort zones somehow, designers and attendees alike.” But, that’s not all to say Harrouche doesn’t miss the energy that comes with a typical fashion month (think: the music, the set, the live reactions of the audience).

While most shows in Paris were held digitally, some in-person presentations still continued with a limited capacity. “The Coperni show took the form of a drive-in experience, which was a fantastic alternative,” Harrouche says. “Guests watched from their own individual cars for increased safety, and it felt totally novel and exciting.”

Influencer At Fashion Month: Sasha Payton

Darrel Hunter

Fashion month has also now changed for the models that walk the shows. “Us models are now starting the casting process earlier than usual, [and] we are taking COVID tests quite often, both before the job and before we can enter the casting venue,” model Sasha Payton tells TZR. When it comes to street style, Payton feels it’s a bit more authentic these days. “I think people are representing their true styles in and around the city.”

Influencer At Fashion Month: Emmanuelle Koffi

Darrel Hunter

With Paris’ curfew at 6 p.m., Emmanuelle Koffi says many shows this season were pre-recorded or live streamed. “Due to the pandemic, it’s now difficult to organize shows with big venues,” she tells TZR. This time around, the influencer dressed up in a full look for Dior’s show, even though she didn’t get to see it in-person. However, she notes the show, which took place in Galerie des Glaces at Versailles, blew her mind. “Also, it would have been difficult to make everyone attend the Miu Miu showing at the Dolomites mountains in Italia, so we are lucky it was all digital,” she adds.