How a Physical Fashion Show Goes Down in the Coronavirus Era — Dolce & Gabbana and Etro Give it a Whirl

Masks flooded the front row during Milan’s menswear fashion week today in Italy. While many companies stuck with online showcases of their recent collections, both Dolce & Gabbana and Etro went the traditional route — although, otherwise, their shows were anything but.

Both houses presented live runway shows, being among the firsts to take on the physical event process in the coronavirus era. Etro and Dolce & Gabbana implemented safety protocols in compliance with Italian law: Attendees and staff wore face masks as well as were encouraged to keep a safe distance between one another (about 1 meter). Guests were seated in every other chair, for instance. Models, however, were not wearing masks on the catwalk, but were spotted wearing them backstage.

The Dolce & Gabbana show, which aired on Instagram Live, took place at the Humanitas University campus in Milan and featured a performance from Italian band Il Volo. Both designers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, ended the show with a victory lap in medical masks as the band played a cover of Dean Martin’s “Volare.” The brand, which typically hosts a celeb-filled, grand experience, teamed up with the research foundation there to help fund the development of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus — perhaps proof that fashion is indeed entering a new era. The show ended with a speech about creativity in science from the scientific director of Humanitas, Alberto Mantovani.

Meanwhile at Etro, the experience had more nods to tradition — at least where the audience was concerned. European influencers flocked to the show to check out its spring ’21 men’s collections and women’s pre-collection via a live runway. It was also streamed on Instagram Live. Guests included model Caroline Daur, Attico’s Gilda Ambrosio and influencer Valentina Ferragni. The few dozen attendees also could be seen clad in masks and the outdoor event.

Earlier this month, Haute Couture week took place in an online format featuring digital incarnations of shows from Schiaparelli, Christian Dior, Chanel and Alexandre Vauthier. But, Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing kicked off Paris’ Digital Couture Week with a physical fashion show and live music spectacle on a barge cruising down Paris’ River Seine. Attendees watched from the riverbanks and it was livestreamed on Tiktok.

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