Milan Fashion Week curtailed by virus, opens with 16 shows

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Milan fashion houses were preparing their way out of the pandemic with a menswear calendar packed with 22 live runway shows and 18 other physical appearances this month.

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MILAN – Milan fashion houses preparing a way out of the pandemic this month included a menswear calendar that included enough live events to entice fashionistas to book trans-Atlantic flights once again. But that was before the Omicron boom.

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Global powerhouses like Zegna, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada will still host live shows, but Milan mainstay Giorgio Armani canceled outright and other brands canceled runway shows for digital. The 40-plus planned live events have been reduced to one-quarter, with 16 live runway shows proceeding with physical productions.

“The positive thing is that many important brands have decided to hold runway shows, and that’s a good sign,” said Carlo Capassa, president of the Italian National Fashion Chamber. “Fashion is the second most important industry in Italy. It is important to remember that we must live with this virus, and we must find a way to protect people’s health while continuing to work, so that this industry can continue to function.” to be kept.”

Paris is also confirming a slimmed-down selection of runway shows on January 18-23, followed by Haute Couture, while London has canceled its January calendar, which will be combined with a women’s preview in February.

The Italian fashion scene has been hit by a pandemic since Italy reported the first locally transmitted case of the virus in the West in the middle of Fashion Week in February 2020. Armani first closed its showroom to the live audience, streaming. Fall-Winter 2020-21 Collection from an empty theatre.

The digital trend continued with a few live runway exceptions until women’s wear previews for spring–summer 2022 last September, when vaccination rates began to return to live shows as a rule, albeit in limited numbers. And with social distancing. It was enough to offer promises that fashionistas at close to pre-pandemic numbers can once again pack runway seating, where they can understand first-hand whether the shimmering fabric is silk or satin.

For this edition, travel restrictions and concerns meant that many editors and buyers who had intended to travel to Milan this month, specifically those from the United States, were cancelled, Capasa said. In addition, significant regions of Asia and Eastern Europe – important fashion markets – are administering vaccinations not approved by European health authorities, limiting travel to Italy.

To engage travellers, luxury brands such as Brunello Cucinelli and Ketone have added physical presentations to their digital shows.

Under current health guidelines, fashion houses must allow four square meters (just over 40 square meters) for each guest – a space that previously could seat up to eight. In many cases, this means something like a tenth of a pre-pandemic audience, necessitating the tough call, even if fewer people are traveling.

In addition, more protective FFP2 masks are needed, and rapid tests will be available for those seeking. The venue will be completely disinfected before the show.

In terms of fashion, this pandemic is now in its eighth season. Capasa noted with satisfaction that the outbreak has never been detected at Fashion Week.

“We must learn to live with this virus, and maintain a high security over behavior,” Capasa said. “If we’ve learned anything, it’s that we need to think very quickly and adapt to the situation.”

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