Marking an end to Paris fashion week, The Financial Times wrote an article detailing designs with the title: ‘what to wear when it’s all over’. Though the pulse of optimism felt was faint, it was still alive amongst the clothes and the collections.
In an audience free setting at the Louvre, Louis Vuittion’s Nicolas Ghesquière created silhouettes that were lavish in execution. The last year has been a time of collective restriction and isolation, designs that counter this emotion are powerful. When life gives you lemons, you can make lemonade. Or if you are Nicolas Ghesquière, you can make a lemon coloured hoodie embroidered with sequins. The opening hoodie was paired with a tulle skirt in a sky blue.
Universally speaking, in terms of customer experience psychology, yellow is a colour of optimism, happiness and sunshine. Exposure to blue skies psychologically makes us happier. Thus, joy was to be found in the halls of the Louvre. This is fundamentally what we need. Our resilience reserves have taken a beating and we will all gladly roll out the red carpet to the promise of better times. Trust in optimism is what will carry us forward.
Another nod to optimism was found amongst Chanel’s designs. With French skiing stations remaining unable to open throughout the winter months, the après-ski sensibility found home in the Parisian capital in lieu of the mountains via fluffy moon boots and CC logo dungarees. Evening wear even got an off-piste chic rework, invoking the fully digital audience with a sense of longing for better times to come.
Decadence was a key part of Paris fashion week via discotheque cool that was found in the shape of shimmering dresses and crystal covered harnesses at Paco Rabanne. Most of us have been dreaming about a post-covid party of some sort and Lanvin had it covered with models dressed in cocktail dresses and designs evoking mixed opulence with uplighting colours.
When it comes to examining customer experience psychology, the design cues from Paris fashion week can give us a strong picture as to what people will be wanting and expecting from stores and life in general when we embark upon a process of reopening. Visual codes of opulence, optimism and decadence fall under the psychological umbrella for celebrating and rejoicing in life. Yet it was the creative director of Hermès Vanhee-Cybulski who put it succinctly with the motivations behind her designs: ‘it is urgent now to live again, to venture forth into the unknown, to gain a new lease of life’.
As retail designers, brand strategists and experience creators, we can take so much from that as we move forward into our post-covid retail lives and store experiences. We are designing for humans – humans who have endured a year of lockdown measures, isolation and hardship. Understanding the emotions we are collectively feeling is very powerful when it comes to strategising in relation to customer experience psychology. For the negativity, we have the opportunity to design an antidote. Through colour, textures, decorative features, we can facilitate, create and inspire optimism and joy. When it is safe to reopen again, retail experiences can be ones where not only the urgency of life, but the beauty of it is felt by the creation of community and spaces to connect with other people. The message of customer sentiment was clear at Paris fashion week, people want to live again and this is a lesson that brands across all industries must take forward as we move into our post-covid lives.