It's no secret that the Coronavirus has burst its banks and is spreading rapidly but the effect on Fashion Week was something nobody could have anticipated. While some designers cancelled their shows and invitees R.S.V.P'ed no, others took to the streets choosing to embrace the epidemic in the only way they knew how; through fashion statements.
Cancellations and No Shows
The list of designers who cancelled their shows (some at very last minute!) included French label Agnès B and Chinese designers Uma Wang, Maison Mai, Masha Ma and Shiatzy Chen, who all pulled out of Paris Fashion Weeks amidst the fears. Of course, it wasn't just the actual runway shows that had to be taken into consideration, there was also the events that surround each designers' showcase that were put on hiatus too, the after parties, the briefing meetings and the rehearsals to boot. Other designers went ahead with the program but paired back any meetups to the bare minimum and some cities including Tokyo and Seoul cancelled Fashion Week completely.
There were a lot of rumours flying about pertaining to the high profile shows however the majority of major players of Fashion Week like Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton carried on business as usual. Michael Burke, chief executive of Louis Vuitton exclaimed that “the Chinese aren't coming, but everyone else is” and apparently that was enough for the big names to proceed as planned. Considering the Chinese market makes up around 40% of the customers of luxury fashion, brands are bound to take a sales hit this season. The varied response within the industry to dealing with the Coronavirus certainly mimicked the response of handling the virus in general, with many news reports from all over the world, contradicting one another. While some countries have taken a “don't panic, everything is going to be OK” stance, others have forbidden workers from coming into work, banned group gatherings and advised people not to go out unless necessary, escalating the virus to the status of the Bubonic Plague.
Over at Milan Fashion Week and with less than 24hours until the event, Giorgio Armani rescinded invitations to their runway show, declaring fans could watch a live stream instead. Since the cancellation came extremely last minute, many guests would have already boarded the plane and possibly landed in Milan, we can only imagine the sad state of affairs of having to watch the runway from their possibly very expensive hotel rooms. As they say in show biz, “the show must go on” and so it did, however set to a backdrop of empty seats. Furthermore, Armani also cancelled an event in Dubai set for April as a precautionary measure.
Versace was all set to show their Cruise Collection in the states on May 16th however they have decided to postpone indefinitely and Ralph Lauren who didn't participate in New York Fashion Week as they usually would, has also cancelled their April show in New York too. Italian power house Gucci have joined the cancellation list for their May show in San Francisco as have Chanel for their upcoming show in Beijing in May. Finally, Prada have postponed their May show in Japan too, showing that these brands are thinking ahead and presuming the epidemic isn't going to be halted any time soon.
Images Via : Instagram
Many Fashion Week goers chose to embrace Covid 19 the only way possible, exploding the press with designer masks and D.I.Y extravaganzas. So much so that face coverings have become this season's must-have accessory and soaring sales of the world's most coveted designs. Trust fashion to take something as awful as an epidemic virus and put a high fashion spin on it! After actress Gwyneth Paltrow posed on Instagram with her Airinum Urban Air Mask 2.0, it has since sold out worldwide in all three of its high fashion color names, Onyx Black, Pearl Pink and Quartz Grey.
While the designer masks were works of art in their own right, the D.I.Y'ers were just as much of a sight to behold, everything from buckets to empty water coolers have been dumped on to the heads of metro and subway users as a cheap and easy way to protect themselves. We're not sure just how effective these barriers are we've got to give them credit for innovation.
Next to designer masks, hand sanitizer came in a close second for the accessory du jour with fashion week goers applying as frequently as possible and passing the “Purell” between friends.
Another change sweeping the Fashion Week community was the eradication of “la bise.” The double cheek kiss is a staple greeting in Paris and can be seen being performed all over Fashion Week. Due to “La bise” being a fabulous way to spread the virus, it has been replaced with an upper arm squeeze. More friendly than a handshake and doesn't involve any skin to skin contact, a gentle squeeze of the bicep is clearly the in-vogue way to say hello and to be honest, we're loving it! It comes so automatic to warmly greet our friends and loved ones with a big bear hug or in France with cheek pecks so we hope the bicep embrace catches on outside of Fashion Week!
Facemasks on the Runway
Coincidently, French designer Marine Serre somehow managed to unintentionally and perfectly time a range of facemasks to come down the runway accompanying her latest collection. Serre's collection was of course designed before the outbreak and she is known for using anti-pollution masks in her previous collections but her timing couldn't have been more perfect!
Article Commissioned by Mod'Art University of Shanghai