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New York Fashion Week Isn’t Canceled — It’s Never Ending

One of the most noticeable and universal effects of the pandemic on daily life has been the warping of time. With many working from home and the usual markers of the year taken away (work travel, vacations, holiday rituals), days and months have blended into one another.

Fashion seems to have followed suit, and as the fall ’21 women’s month kicks off with New York Fashion Week (as of Friday, though even that start date is unclear), the time warp is showing itself in the brands that are participating, those that have opted out and the ones that are technically taking part, but outside of the week — and even the month.

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Designer Ulla Johnson staged an audience-less show at Lincoln Center on Friday, kicking of NYFW’s virtual week.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Ulla Johnson

 

Just as it was for the spring ’21 season, the larger American brands such as Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and Tory Burch are not showing during NYFW. Oscar de la Renta is scheduled for March 2; Coach and Carolina Herrera are showing on February 23 — the same day that Milan Fashion Week commences. Jason Wu and Rebecca Minkoff are the only brands confirmed to be showing with even partial physical attendance, a trend both established back in September for the spring ’21 shows.

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A look from Jason Wu’s fall ’21 collection, shown Sunday.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Jason Wu

There has always been some confusion surrounding the NYFW calendar, as the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and IMG have refused to combine forces and create one authoritative schedule, as has long been established in London, Milan and Paris. Attendees still have to cross-reference calendars of both organizations to ensure that a designer is not passed over; meanwhile, each season more and more brands were showing a few days before the official start.

Relativity of time is not just a NYFW issue:  Just as the week was kicking off, Victoria Beckham debuted her fall ’21 collection, a full seven days before the start of London Fashion Week, where the designer has shown since 2018 (before that she participated in NYFW, launching her line in the city in 2008).

victoria beckham, fall 2021, nyfw
Victoria Beckham’s fall ’21 collection, shown a week before start of London Fashion Week, where the designer normally shows to a star-studded front row (including her family). This season, she opted for a simple look book, unattached to any fashion week.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Victoria Beckham

The CFDA calendar also includes American designers who typically show during Paris Fashion Week; brands like Rick Owens (slated for March 4), Altuzarra (March 6) and Thom Browne (March 7), furthering the ambiguity of geographical location.

The mixing of locales, dates and general realms reinforces the pandemic’s time warp, but it also questions the significance of these details. If fashion month is digital, does it matter if a brand shows in New York, London, Milan or Paris? Or Stockholm, Tokyo or Lagos? Currently, the virtual reality is that it does not.

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