Translated by
Nicola Mira
Feb 28, 2020
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Paris Fashion Week withstands coronavirus fears

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Feb 28, 2020

The Paris Fashion Week is having to deal with the anxiety sparked by the Covid 19 epidemic. On Thursday 27 February, LVMH cancelled a cocktail party organised for the LVMH Prize emerging designer competition, causing a momentary ripple of concern to spread within the French luxury world. A few days before, catwalk shows by Chinese labels had been cancelled, and Boss announced at the start of the week that it would refrain from presenting its new collection, having recently showed in Milan. However, all the other shows and events, both on and off the official calendar, were still scheduled to go ahead as the fashion week got under way.

The show by Kenzo, on February 26 2020 - AFP - Anne-Christine Poujoulat

LVMH’s announcement about its gala evening on Thursday caused a sharp intake of breath, and was followed by the cancellations of the Net-a-Porter-Re/done event at the UK embassy on Friday, and of presentations scheduled by Byredo on Friday, Rosie Assouline on Sunday and Sandro at the start of next week. Designer Geoffrey B. Small also announced the postponement of the event he was due to stage with concept store L'Eclaireur on Friday. The label is based in the Italian region of Veneto, a Covid 19 outbreak hotspot, and said it took this decision out of caution and a sense of responsibility. Nevertheless, these announcements didn't trigger a snowball effect.

Although the LVMH Prize cocktail party was cancelled, this was not the case for the meetings between the competition's 20 shortlisted designers, from all around the world, and the jury members, among them Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Loewe, Delphine Arnault, the prize’s mastermind, and top model Gigi Hadid, who all attended.

The CEO of one of the LVMH group’s leading labels took the opportunity to emphasise how important it is for the industry that catwalk shows do go ahead, underlining the need for fashion to put up a responsible, optimistic front in these troubled times.

“Since the fashion week started, no show has been cancelled,” said the French Haute Couture and Fashion Federation, adding that “the Sphere showroom is still on at the Palais de Tokyo. There are no changes to the official calendar.”

And while a string of trade events have been forced to cancel, in Italy and also Switzerland, where the Geneva watch industry show was ruled out, as of February 27, there is no question of cancelling events in Paris.

The fashion industry in Paris is hoping not to experience the same situation faced by the Milan Fashion Week and the whole of northern Italy a week ago. French authorities, after a first death linked to Covid 19 was recorded on Wednesday, are trying to allay fears.

“There clearly is a perceptible (...) anxiety in France, and we want to respond to this concern by means of everyone’s joint efforts, with calm and rationality. There are neither grounds for fear, nor for negligence,” said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Thursday.

The luxury and fashion industry professionals currently gathered in Paris for the Fashion Week are endeavouring to follow these recommendations. And while Asian visitors, and a number of Italian ones, are missing, and everyone is keeping an eye on developments about the coronavirus epidemic, catwalk shows are going ahead almost normally.

In some cases, welcome kisses and handshakes have been eschewed, replaced by polite greetings exchanged at a prudent distance. Antiseptic gel was distributed at the entrance of the Paco Rabanne show on Thursday, as were face masks. But the latter don’t seem to be very popular with the fashion world. Despite the recommendations to travellers coming from Asia and Milan, only a handful of people wearing masks can be spotted in Parisian catwalk show audiences.


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