Milanese fashion houses were charting a path out of the pandemic that included a menswear calendar packed with 22 live shows and 18 more physical presentations this month.
MILAN (AP) – Milanese fashion houses were plotting an exit path from the pandemic that included a menswear calendar this month full of enough live events to entice fashionistas to book transatlantic flights once again. But that was before the omicron surge.
Milan Fashion Week previews for Fall-Winter 2022-23 open Friday with significantly fewer physical events than initially planned and access to these is severely limited by pandemic restrictions as virus infection count in Italy it has reached record levels almost every day.
Powerful globals such as Zegna, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada will still host live shows, but Milanese progenitor Giorgio Armani has canceled it completely and other brands have canceled the shows for digital. The more than 40 scheduled live events have been cut by a quarter, with 16 live shows underway along with physical presentations.
“The good thing is that many important brands have decided to run shows, and this is a good sign,” said Carlo Capasa, president of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion. “Fashion is the second most important sector in Italy. It is important to remember that we must live with this virus and that we must find a way to protect people’s health while also continuing to work, to allow this sector to continue working. “
Paris also confirms a reduced selection of shows from 18 to 23 January, followed by haute couture, while London has canceled the calendar for January, which will be combined with female previews in February.
The Italian fashion scene has been hit by the pandemic since Italy recorded the first case of the virus transmitted locally to the West during fashion week in February 2020. Armani was the first to close his showroom to a live audience , streaming the Autumn-Winter 2020-21 Collection from an empty theater.
The digital trend continued, with a handful of exceptions to live shows, until last September’s women’s previews for spring-summer 2022, when vaccination rates heralded a return to live shows as a rule, albeit with limited numbers. and social distancing. This was enough to deliver the promise that fashionistas in something closer to pre-pandemic numbers could once again pack runway seating, where they could discern firsthand whether that shimmery fabric is silk or of satin.
For this edition, travel restrictions and concerns mean that many publishers and buyers planning to travel to Milan this month have canceled, most notably from the US, Capasa said. In addition, areas of Asia and Eastern Europe – important fashion markets – are administering vaccinations not approved by the European health authorities, limiting travel to Italy.
To engage those who make the journey, luxury brands like Brunello Cucinelli and Kiton have added physical presentations to their digital shows.
According to current health guidelines, fashion houses must allow four square meters (just over 40 square meters) for each guest, a space that previously could accommodate up to eight. In many cases, this means something like one-tenth of the pre-pandemic audience, requiring difficult calls even if fewer people are traveling.
Additionally, more protective FFP2 masks are needed, and quick tests will be available for those who wish. The premises will be completely disinfected before the shows.
In terms of fashion, the pandemic is now in its eighth season. Capasa noted with satisfaction that no outbreak has ever been traced back to Fashion Week.
“We need to learn to live with this virus and keep a high guard on behavior,” said Capasa. “If we have learned anything, it is that we have to think very quickly and adapt to the situation.”