After a long corona-related break, New York is opening its fashion week with the spring / summer collections 2022. In addition to industry greats such as Tom Ford and Altuzarra, a live audience is finally expected again.
Nevertheless, the number of corona cases will most likely deprive the event of its accustomed international flair when it kicks off this week. The pandemic overshadowed the last two fashion weeks, in September 2020 and February 2021, both of which were mostly held in the form of virtual shows.
Steven Kolb, President and CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), said the event will provide space for digital contributions and live viewing with an on-site audience. However, he added, he feels “a real optimism, a lot of energy and enthusiasm regarding the return to live shows”. “Of course there is nothing quite like a live show”.
New York, which marks the start of the fashion weeks ahead of London, Milan and Paris, can boast countless iconic catwalk locations. One remembers the Tommy Hilfiger show at the Apollo Theater in 2019 or the Michael Kors event at Studio 54 in the same year.
On Thursday, Moschino, Sergio Hudson and Carolina Herrera parade during the day and in the evening LaQuan Smith presents his collection high up on the Empire State Building.
On Tuesday, the founder of Collina Strada, Hillary Taymour, underscores her environmentally friendly approach with a show on a rooftop garden in Brooklyn.
“This is an important moment for New York and we are proud to be supporting the city and the industry,” said Michael Kors. “We won’t let ourselves get down,” added Steven Kolb, “and we are optimistic”.
The Covid-19 factor
This year’s Fashion Week overlaps with the gala event of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is organized on Monday as a social highlight in the metropolis. This year’s Met Gala will be hosted by singer Billie Eilish, actor Timothee Chalamet, poet Amanda Gorman and tennis star Naomi Osaka and this selection will give it a youthful focus – all four hosts are under 25.
Nevertheless, the metropolis, which came to a standstill as a result of Covid-19 and recently suffered from floods of historic proportions, is only slowly returning to normal.
The organizers of the fashion week have announced a strict protocol: all guests and participants must be vaccinated, wearing a face mask is recommended – with the exception of runway models – and the number of spectators is limited.
According to the CFDA, “a large proportion” of the 91 official events will take place outdoors, and several brands have again opted for a digital presentation.
And since many foreign travelers are denied entry to the USA, “many of our usual international guests … will not be able to come to New York,” as Steven Kolb explained. Nevertheless, he emphasized that he was “not afraid that the event’s influence will not reach the international target audience. We will only reach them virtually”.
Even before the pandemic, the US fashion industry was struggling with a number of important departures. Former starters such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger said goodbye to their high-end collections or showed their shows in other locations. Designers such as Pyer Moss, Rihanna and Victoria Beckham also turned away from New York.
The CFDA promoted the coming fashion week with the return of Thom Browne and Joseph Altuzarra, who had moved from New York to Paris a few years ago.
The week on Tuesday gets going with Christian Siriano and Collina Strada. Also on the program are the Liberian-American designer Telfar Clemens, whose shopping bags made of vegan leather caused a sensation, as well as the up-and-coming designer Peter Do, who grew up on a small farm in Vietnam and is now making his fashion week debut.
The event ends on Sunday with big names such as Tory Burch, Oscar de la Renta and Tom Ford.
In the meantime, the pandemic has left some designers with mixed feelings, not least because it put less weight on the on-site audience, at least temporarily. “I think designers don’t necessarily feel the pressure to put on a show every season, as they might have done in the past,” analyzes Cathleen Sheenan, a lecturer at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. “It’s a huge relief for many brands because the shows are incredibly expensive. It’s less of an obligation or a routine. It creates more freedom.”
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