Of all the things on my current To Worry About List, Fashion Week sits in a relatively low-priority slot. I’m far more concerned with staying home, staying safe and remembering to wash my cloth face mask before my weekly grocery run. That said, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t let my mind wander a few times, reminiscing on seasons past and wondering if Fashion Week will be canceled for September 2020. Given that New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2021 would fall around the first week of September, it seems highly unlikely that the shows will take place—and while I understand, I can’t pretend I’m not a tiny bit disappointed.
Who determines whether or not Fashion Week occurs? First and foremost, the designers. If they don’t plan on bringing their seasonal collections to life, then what ensembles would come down the runway? Right now, few designers have access to their ateliers and workspaces, and even the most dedicated and seasoned staffers would struggle to “work from home” when it comes to creating clothing. Virtual fittings with models would be hard to finesse, and a designer couldn’t possibly play close enough attention to the details via a garment inspection on Zoom.
Plus, some designers feel new lines aren’t exactly a top priority at the moment—Christian Siriano and his sewers have been working tirelessly to create protective masks for frontline workers, and Siriano himself is even painting and selling one-of-a-kind fashion sketches, the profits from which fund the brand’s ongoing mask-masking efforts. Abroad, LVMH is currently focused on making free hand sanitizers for French healthcare workers in Dior, Guerlain and Givenchy facilities.
Of course, even if a few designers do have the bandwidth to pull together collections to show, it will take more than that to make Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2021 a reality. The Council of Fashion Designers of America, or the CFDA, is made up of 477 designers who call the shots when it comes to America’s Fashion Calendar, and ultimately, this group will have the final say.
While they haven’t yet canceled the shows, a message on the CFDA website warns of Fashion Week’s uncertain fate. “The CFDA remains respectful of everyone’s priorities during this time. First and foremost protecting the health and well-being of our teams and ourselves, and stabilizing business operations,” reads the statement. “With that in mind, the CFDA is currently reviewing all upcoming important dates including New York Fashion Week and market dates.”
While no official cancellations have been made in regards to Fall/Winter 2021 Fashion Week as of yet, plenty of other major fashion events have already been called off. The CFDA released an official statement canceling the Resort 2021 shows, which were to be held in May, and postponing the Men’s Fashion Week shows, which have been moved to July. The Fédération de la Haute et de la Mode, basically the CFDA of France, made the decision to cancel Paris Men’s Fashion Week and Couture Week, which were to be held in June and July respectively.
Let’s say, in the instance of a hypothetical fashion miracle, that the CFDA does green-light the shows, and the designers do pull together their collections. Then what? In that case, we as fashion-lovers and attendees would determine Fashion Week’s fate. Would we all show up in our best designer and vintage duds, each trendy look accessorized with a matching cloth face mask? Would we receive one pump of LVMH hand sanitizer per guest as we file into the crowded soundstage, rubbing more than shoulders with our seatmates as we squish together in the cramped rows, pretending to our Instagram followers that we’re thrilled to be there? It would be hard to stay six feet apart in these circumstances, much less six inches. Personal space is never a Fashion Week guarantee, and with a virus spreading, I can’t pretend a good show would be worth the risk.
All in all, the fate of Fall/Winter 2021 Fashion Week is still uncertain, but erring on the side of safety, I’m hardly expecting show invites to roll in this August. Virtual Zoom presentation invites, perhaps, or maybe just collection lookbooks shot by the models and designers at home. Years ago, when becoming a fashion editor seemed a goal I could only dream of, I swore I’d do anything to attend Fashion Week. Now, as a seasoned attendee, I can confirm that “anything” certainly doesn’t include putting my health nor the health of others at risk.
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