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How COVID-19 restrictions gave New York Fashion Week new look

Trendsetters - By Reuters
Models presenting creations from the Blonds Fall 2020 during an earlier New York Fashion Week (Image: Reuters/Caitlne Ochs)

New York Fashion Week looked a little different this season, with the typical seven-day parade of events stripped down to five days because of COVID-19 restrictions, with online runway shows, and smaller, socially distanced audiences.

Host IMG said it had worked closely with the governor’s office to understand the protocols needed in order to have the shows running from Sept. 13-17.

“We evolved the event and our offerings to designers to be able to create an event that’s both safe and successful ... and that allows consumers to tune in to watch and participate,” said global senior vice president of marketing and brand strategy at IMG, April Guidone.

Highlights this season included Jason Wu, Rebecca Minkoff and Christian Siriano, who showed from his Connecticut home. Partnering with U.S. hardware store Lowes, each designer created sets “with home décor products they found at Lowes.”

Spring Studios, the normal home of New York Fashion Week, also adapted.

There was a runway show on the rooftop of Spring Studios in Manhattan (Image: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
Models walked down a plant-filled set inspired by the Mexican coastal town of Tulum (Image: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

“We are offer[ed] the rooftop at Spring (Studios) to designers for more traditional runway shows that may have a very small and limited, socially distant audience,” said Guidone.

Designers used the indoor venues that previously hosted large runway shows to debut their collections in new ways, such as by creating films or content for social media.

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The content, along with panels and special events, were broadcasted on NYFW.com. The Council of Fashion Designers of America also created a new digital platform, Runway360.com, to air various runway shows.

Brooklyn-based model Anok Yai has been working in London since March and described the few shows she has done during the pandemic as “very strange.”

“Everything obviously is very spaced out,” said Yai, noting that in the past 100 people would be in one room doing hair and makeup, but now it is less than a dozen.

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