At New York Fashion Week the ripple effects began when some models and designers were quarantined in China. By the time the traveling style circus had landed in Milan, temperatures were being checked; by the end of those collections, Giorgio Armani had decided to hold his show in an empty auditorium and livestream it to an audience holed up in their hotels.
In Paris, masks and hand sanitizer materialized. Parties were canceled. People started to get nervous and leave early. We all know what happened next.
Yet here we are, a year later, and, against all expectations, the shows are still going on. Sort of.
The fashion week calendar, that four-city hamster wheel that spins from New York to London to Milan to Paris, persists, though lots of brands have hopped off and decided to run at their own pace. We’re all watching from our kitchen tables — everyone’s on the front row! — taking notes for the time when we emerge from hibernation. At some point, after all, we will get dressed again.
Which means that right now virtual fashion month may be the ultimate D.I.Y. streaming series: a little escapism, a little high-concept hooey, a bit of documentary realism, a dose of “Get the Look.” Here’s what you need to know to plan your viewing schedule.
Some designers are still hoping for a sort of in-person experience for a few locals — or at least an audience from their own workrooms — and others are playing it close to the vest. But they have all recognized the pandemic reality and accepted the fact that even if a few actual people manage to get to the set, a show needs to be a digital experience for the vast majority.
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