Fashion Shows in Paris and Milan Are Going On Despite Omicron

The Paris and Milan fashion houses are back on the catwalk this week, hosting their elaborate annual winter shows despite the rapid spread of the Omicron variant – another sign that parts of Europe are looking beyond the current wave of Covid-19 and are returning to work .

Chanel SA sent a horse on the runway during its lavish in-person fashion show Tuesday night in Paris as part of Haute Couture Week there. Last week, Louis Vuitton unveiled a posthumous collection of its late art director, Virgil Abloh, who passed away late last year. Kenzo, another brand owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, debuted on Sunday with its first collection from new creative director Nigo.

Milan Women’s Fashion Week will take place in late February, with leading brands including Prada SpA and Versace, owned by Capri Holdings srl

among those intended to participate with physical performances.

The relatively solid presentation in what is one of the most important times of the year for luxury fashion brands represents a turnaround from a few weeks ago. Other high-profile events, such as the annual late January business retreat hosted by the World Economic Council in Davos, Switzerland, were canceled due to the rapidly spreading variant.

More recently, however, European officials have begun to ease Omicron-inspired travel restrictions. The UK and the European Union both said earlier this week that they intend to drop some rules requiring quarantines and testing.

The blockades, vaccine requirements and travel restrictions have engulfed Europe amid growing Covid infections and concerns over a variant detected in South Africa, highlighting new challenges for the US as officials want to avoid further closures.

The biggest houses in the fashion industry have largely canceled in-person shows throughout 2020. Last year, most did not organize physical winter shows, which are typically held in January and February in Paris. Milan and New York. Many, however, have held shows throughout the year, amidst the Covid-19 waves.

The shows are given in red letters in the industry calendar. Held multiple times a year, it’s time for brands to debut their latest seasonal pieces, host big shoppers and influencers, and, in some cases, captivate a wider audience with over-the-top show headlines.

Chanel made a particular return to the Paris winter show season after sending a horse on the runway, ridden by jumper celebrity Charlotte Casiraghi, the daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco. The longtime brand ambassador was gifted with a sequined black tweed riding jacket from Chanel. Chanel canceled its winter show last year, but held a live event last summer.

Not all homes are returning this year. Designer Tom Ford this week canceled his show at New York Fashion Week, scheduled for February 16. He said Covid-19 outbreaks within his team derailed preparations. Earlier this year, Giorgio Armani SpA withdrew from this month’s Milan and Paris fashion weeks, citing concerns related to Covid-19. Brunello Cucinelli SpA canceled its show at Pitti Uomo, a fashion event in Florence, earlier this month due to the increase in Covid-19 cases.

The return of fashion shows in Europe coincides with the strong recovery of the sector from the pandemic. Luxury groups say they are determined to maintain momentum into 2022 and deliver bullish growth forecasts.

Global luxury revenues will reach 370 billion euros, equivalent to 416 billion dollars, in 2025, compared to about 283 billion euros last year, according to Bain & Co., as the sector enjoys what is expected to be a strong post-pandemic recovery. By serving affluent customers with an often local supply chain, luxury companies can be relatively isolated from the economic threats that are proving to be a challenge for many mass market brands, especially rising inflation.

Although luxury companies are experiencing rising logistics costs, they can address them relatively easily, Julie Brown, chief financial officer of Burberry Group PLC, said in an earnings phone call last week, as their customers are not sensitive to the increases. of prices.

“There is considerable inflation occurring on the supply chain. So the impact on freight and logistics is definitely with us, “Ms Brown said.” I think this is where it helps to be in the luxury industry … because price increases can occur in this industry. “

Write to Trefor Moss to Trefor.Moss@wsj.com

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