Giorgio Armani’s announcement this week to cancel all catwalk presentations across its portfolio of collections could be a catalyst for other designers and brands to forego fashion week once again.
Omicron, the latest coronavirus variant of concern, is rapidly spreading across the globe, with France drafting new legislation to ban unvaccinated people from public spaces, a possible deterrent for January’s haute couture and men’s fashion week. A recent negative health test may no longer be sufficient to enter fashion shows and other events.
In Milan, a new campaign to boost tourism and reposition the city away from fashion was released before Christmas and will run throughout January. The campaign, called Milano: It Changes More Than Just Your Look, aims to show Milan is more than a fashion hub, which given its January calendar of menswear and vital contribution to the city’s revenue, has raised eyebrows with many regarding its ill timing. But perhaps, with fashion week attendance expected to fall, the city is hoping to be top of mind for tourists at other times of the year.
Milan’s men’s fashion week will take place from 14 to 18 January and so far designers including Zegna, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and JW Anderson remain on the official Milano Moda schedule to host in-person events. Whether or not Armani sets a precedent for other brands to cancel so close to fashion week remains to be seen.
Safety before style
Back in 2020 Giorgio Armani was the first designer to put safety before style, cancelling his catwalk presentations before the tsunami of covid had fully taken grip or was indeed understood. Global lockdowns ensued, with the west once again tightening restrictions in the third wave of the pandemic. Some countries, like the Netherlands, have gone back into full lockdown including the closure of all non-essential retailers.
Armani said in a statement: “This decision was made with great regret and following careful reflection in the light of the worsening epidemiological situation. As the designer has expressed on many occasions, the shows are crucial and irreplaceable occasions but the health and safety of both employees and the public must once again take priority.”