While concerns around the spread of the Omicron variant have affected plans for the men’s and couture shows in Europe, the schedule in New York, which serves as a kick-off for three weeks of women’s ready-to-wear shows, is looking fairly robust — for now.
Designers currently planning to stage live events include everyone from Proenza Schouler, Altuzarra and Eckhaus Latta to Collina Strada, Michael Kors and Gabriella Hearst. Tory Burch, Maisie Wilen and CFDA chairman Tom Ford, who will close out the week, are also on board.
Dauphinette, Interior, Judy Turner, Loring, Luchen, Melke, PatBO, Saint Sintra and Zankov are all newcomers to the “official” calendar, published in partnership with IMG, the organiser of New York Fashion Week.
It’s too early to call the upcoming shows a return to form, however. While Omicron has already likely peaked in New York City, according to a recent report in the New York Times, the fast spread of the variant means that staffing is the biggest concern for many brands. (If a large chunk of those producing the show is out sick, it may be difficult to be ready on time.) What’s more, many designers are planning one-on-one appointments or very small presentations since most will take place indoors given February’s typically frigid temperatures.
“You’re not going to see a mega, 600-person show,” CFDA chief executive Steven Kolb told BoF. “These will be really intimate shows, with very small audiences — very diverse in the format… I don’t think it’ll feel cookie-cutter.”
Proenza Schouler, for instance, will stage two, presumably small shows on Friday, February 11; a contrast to last season, when the label took over Little Island in Hudson River Park. Telfar is screening a film at Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport, which will help to promote the launch of a new bag style, not a new ready-to-wear collection. Area, returning to NYFW after a quiet few seasons, is planning to release something digitally while meeting with editors and buyers one-on-one.
Marc Jacobs, Rodarte and Pyer Moss, which have taken to showing off-piste in recent years, are among the notable absentees. Thom Browne, who returned from Paris last season, has yet to announce its plan, nor has Oscar de la Renta, Vaquera, Staud, Chromat and many others, with more intel expected to emerge in the coming weeks.
Alexander Wang, who stopped showing at fashion week long before the pandemic or his public scandal, is also not listed.
In terms of attendance, Kolb acknowledges that the audience will once again be more local than it was pre-Covid, with industry executives choosing not to travel as much as they used to, especially as this part of the world emerges from a spike in Covid cases. And yet, the looser approach to presenting collections may stand to benefit emerging designers, whose efforts were often swallowed up by a sea of big advertiser shows in the pre-Covid times. Now, there is only one show per hour in New York, even if some of those commercial players, like Authentic Brands Group-owned Hervé Léger, are returning.
Kolb noted that the roster is more culturally, aesthetically and economically than it used to be: “Peter Do, Sergio Hudson, Elena Velez: this generation of talent really reflects society.”
The latest wave of Covid-19 has pushed Ann Demeulemeester, Brunello Cucinelli and Giorgio Armani to cancel shows. For others, however, the show must go on.