If President Joe Biden is promising fireworks and barbecues on July 4th, the CFDA is working very hard to resurrect New York Fashion Week from the clutches of the coronavirus. Throughout the pandemic, designers employed a variety of methods to host fashion shows while keeping models, staff, and attendees safe — Christian Siriano held his Spring 2021 show outdoors and socially distanced, while Dior experimented with digital films and activations for their haute couture collections. And while pandemic-era fashion shows experienced varying levels of success, there’s no substitute for the allure of cramming into tiny benches, watching models strut down the way, and hoping your look is fire enough to get snapped by a street style photographer. This year, NYFW promises to be even bigger, flashier, and longer than weeks past, culminating with the Met Gala. Here’s what to expect in September 2021.
American designers are coming back to New York City in droves. In recent seasons, several American labels, such as Thom Browne and Altuzarra, have staged their shows at Paris Fashion Week — ostensibly to capitalize on the prestige. This year, the IMG Fashion Alliance is offering funding to designers who choose to show in New York through 2022, reported the New York Times. Of the decision to return to New York, Joseph Altuzarra said that he “felt a really strong kinship with the city that I hadn’t felt as deeply in a long time.” Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy, who experimented with Parisian shows before returning to NYC in 2018, affirmed their decision to stay stateside, telling the Times that “We are honored to be able to participate in an incredible community of creativity that inspires us to be our best.”
Special guest designers will also host fashion shows. Tom Ford, the current chairman of the Council on Fashion Designers of America, confirmed that he will present a collection at NYFW this September, along with Pyer Moss, who is ending a two-year hiatus on the label’s fashion week presentations. Buzzy brand Telfar also teased a September event, though they told the Times that it will occur within their own offbeat, disruptive brand identity. European designers are also stating shows in NYC, including Moschino, designed by the very American Jeremy Scott, and Croation label VENA candy.
The Met Gala is also happening. Just when your feet were revolting against trekking all over NYC to catch the shows, fashion’s prom night will cap off a jam-packed fashion week calendar. The 2021 Met Gala will take place on September 13, which will be appropriately themed “American Fashion.” Given that the fashion elite will still be in town, Wintour’s decision to throw the posh gala after the shows are over should provide for amble ancillary parties and events — if models, editors, and designers can stay awake that long.
Vaccines will be required. While New York City and New York State are mandating vaccines under the Key to NYC and Excelsior passes, respectively, New York Fashion Week: The Shows are implementing their own vaccine requirements, reported WWD. Models, design and styling teams, facility staff, press, and attendees must show proof of vaccination in order to enter Spring Studios, where the shows will be held. IMG, which is producing the event, also stated that minors under 16 also must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen test within 6 hours of arrival, or a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours.
At this time, it is not known if rapid COVID-19 test results are acceptable, or how this mandate will apply to those who are unable to obtain the vaccine for medical reasons, such as known allergic reactions. Presumably, such individuals will be asked to follow the guidelines for minors. IMG stated that “designers, producers and p.r. teams” are required to ensure vaccine compliance for show guests, employees, and contracted staff.
IMG has also instituted deadlines for getting the vaccine in order to meet its mandate prior to NYFW. For those getting the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines, the second shot must be received by August 23. For those obtaining the Johnson & Johnson single dose, the deadline is August 25. And IMG is not playing around when it comes to the shot: “Strict compliance will be enforced with admittance denied for non-compliance, subject to state and federal law,” the company told WWD.
For independent fashion shows taking place off-site within the city, the Key to NYC regulations will apply as such events fall under the “performances” regulation. Regardless of where you’ll catch the runway action, download those apps to your phones now to avoid waiting even longer to check in for shows.
The shows are really happening. The CFDA has released its annual NYFW calendar. The shows are currently scheduled to run from September 7 to September 12, with Collina Strada kicking off the 2021 Fashion Week on the evening of the 7th. The earliest shows begin at 9am, so here’s our advice: plan your looks in advance, set out your clothes the morning before, pack flats and chewing gum, chug caffeine, and take into account that the subway is awful 90% of the time. Happy fashion week.
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