It has been over 100 days since coronavirus first made its appearance in our country. From then on, a series of events took place. A temporary lockdown was announced which was lengthened to the point of almost infinite. As industries and the national economy suffered greatly, then came the time to ease lockdown so that people who were suffering all these days without work could finally breathe. However, COVID-19 shows no sign of departure even now. While people in many sectors again resumed work, few of them could not return to their workplaces because the current situation is not favourable for them to work again. Such a sector is the fashion industry.
Over the past few years, Bangladesh’s fashion industry had created one milestone after another. Not only were there international events such as the lustrous TRESemme Bangladesh Fashion Week, hosted in Dhaka, that became an annual get together for world renowned designers but also events such as the Khadi Festival which helped local people and foreigners to get more acquainted with our roots. Fame of our fashion designers, photographers, models and fashion icons are no longer limited to our country since their names have spread far and wide. Our traditional aestheticism has pulled people from all corners of the world to this land where culture and fashion coincide harmoniously.Just when the fashion industry was at its pinnacle, the entire world fell under the grip of the novel coronavirus. Subsequently, fashion all around the world fell sick from the pandemic too. Nobody yet knows just when this sickness will be cured. At this point, many fashion labels around the world are planning ways to make a strong comeback despite of the pandemic. The key is to create a safe environment where fashion can flourish without jeopardizing anybody’s health. In Bangladesh, many are involved in generating such a strategy. Virtual fashion is a great step to keep the wheels of this industry turning even in such difficult times.
"Canvas Fashionovation by Azra Mahmood" is one such concept that has been applauded recently. It is a fashion film series that features some of the renowned fashion directors and choreographers along with eminent models and celebrated fashion houses. Currently, virtual fashion has many proponents. “During the time of the pandemic, most people in the fashion industry are putting their focus here,” said fashion designer and choreographer Walli. “There is a plethora of differences between practical shoot and virtual shoot. Of course, in no way can the latter replace the former. However, at this moment this is a timely solution which may or may not be pragmatic in the post-lockdown era.”
A practical photoshoot or fashion event is an elaborate affair with makeup artist, photographer/ cameraman, light, background and many other concomitant aspects. None of these may be possible in a virtual shoot held under lockdown. But it gives a taste of the actual shoot. Most importantly, it is a wave of fresh air when nothing much was happening. However, it has its fair share of criticism. “It is not possible to do a big scale shoot during this time. So virtual shoot can be taken as a hobby or pass time. It can’t be the real picture! It’s only a screenshot. ” said photographer Riyad Ashraf.
Choreographer Ashikur Rahman Poni said that such works cannot be commercial. “A client has certain demands regarding details of a cloth which cannot be met in a virtual environment. Virtual photography is limited to corporate, personal or small scale works. In fact, many renowned photographers from all around the world may even call it ‘funny,’ he added. Choreographer Tanzil said that virtual photography can also be risky since nobody can ensure the dress sent to a model is free from corona or not.
Well, while much debate revolves this issue, nobody can deny that virtual shoots are the only relevant solution during the time of the pandemic. It is also true that it cannot replace practical photoshoots and may dissolve once the pandemic is over.