For years—or maybe decades now—highfalutin editors have been bemoaning the degradation of runway shows into marketing exercises for luxury brands. Their wish for a lo-fi, paparazzi-free season has been granted—and all it took was a pandemic! The spring ’21 haute couture collections, which were unfurled this week in Paris and Milan, were entirely focused on the fashion at hand. A few designers dropped out when, au dernier moment, the French authorities banned public gatherings. But still, a robust 28 houses soldiered on, and in many cases lockdown and the opportunities to reflect on what women really want to wear when life resumes again have served their creative directors well.

The most anticipated event was Kim Jones’s women’s-wear debut at Fendi, which showed spring couture for the first time. His starting point: the Charleston Farmhouse, a 16th-century home near Jones’s weekend place in Sussex that was frequented by Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury set. (Who knew that Orlando, published in 1928, and Fendi, founded in 1925, were contemporaries?)