Mandatory masks, tests as NY Fashion Week embraces ‘new normal’

FILE PHOTO: Jason Wu New York Fashion Week Show
FILE PHOTO: A model presents a creation from the Jason Wu collection during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., September 10, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

February 8, 2022

By Alicia Powell

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fashionistas will be accessorising their outfits with mandatory masks to attend New York Fashion Week this season, adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols put in place for smaller catwalk shows.

With a return to physical shows in September following virtual fashion weeks earlier in the pandemic, organisers are embracing a “new normal” mix of in-person and digital presentations.

Designers like Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera and Christian Siriano will present their latest creations live during the Feb. 11 – 16 event, according to IMG Fashion which runs New York Fashion Week: The Shows.

Others like Badgley Mischka and Tadashi Shoji will provide digital releases, all keen to capitalise on soaring demand for luxury goods as customers splash out following lockdowns.

“It’s the new normal. This season there will be indoor mask wearing that’ll be a requirement across all shows, proof of vaccination, that will be a must,” Noah Kozlowski, director of designer relations and development at IMG Fashion, told Reuters.

“Those who are eligible to be boosted will be required to show proof of doing so. If not, they’ll have to provide a PCR test within 48 hours or an Antigen test within six hours.”

Like last season, guest lists are smaller with about 200 spectators expected on average.

“The biggest challenge will be for the decision makers of who gets to attend the shows since across the board there will be decreased capacities similar to what we saw last season,” Kozlowski said.

Some designers are absent from the schedule. Tom Ford cancelled his show while Thom Brown postponed his to April due to COVID-19.

New York, which kicks off the seasonal catwalk calendar, is known for established brands and newer streetwear labels.

“American fashion has never been as powerful as it (is) right now,” Women’s Wear Daily style director Alex Badia said.

After New York, fellow fashion capitals London, Milan and Paris also plan busy in-person show schedules.

(Reporting by Alicia Powell; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian)