Fashionistas will need to tune in to soak up the glamor of Milan Fashion Week, which remains online a year after the coronavirus first swept across northern Italy.
No well-dressed crowd will attend the extravagance opening on Wednesday: these are all virtual catwalks, with Armani and Prada showcasing new women’s collections for fall and winter 2021-22.
The word ‘coronavirus’ was just beginning to appear in conversations among members of the global style elite as they gathered for the February 2020 edition of Milan Fashion Week.
The first epidemic in Italy broke out in Codogno, an hour’s drive away. This prompted Armani to announce that he would be showing his collection behind closed doors – a first in fashion history.
Covid-19 would spread rapidly across Italy, causing the first national lockdown in Europe as the crisis quickly took on global proportions.
A year later, the global luxury industry is in dire economic straits, with little reason to dress as comfort clothing has become the new uniform for people confined to the house.
Milan organizers are nevertheless hearing the latest Fashion Week, which runs until March 1, to show that the industry can adapt to the crisis.
And there is hope that the arrival of vaccines will lead to a rebound in fashion.
– Millions of eyeballs –
The Italian National Fashion Chamber has set up an online hub dedicated to the week’s events, which includes 68 catwalks and 65 collection presentations.
Wednesday will kick off with “We Are Made In Italy”, an event organized by the Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion collective, which campaigns for greater diversity in the industry.
The next six days will see a parade of online catwalks, live or pre-recorded, by brands such as Prada, Moschino, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino.
Kim Jones, the famous British menswear designer of former Dior and Louis Vuitton fame, will also present his first ready-to-wear collection for Fendi.
In the brave new world of virtual fashion weeks, the success of Milan’s latest edition will be measured by the number of eyeballs it manages to reach.
The latest Milan Fashion Week, in September, reached over 43 million views on the event’s exclusive streaming channel, with partners such as the New York Times and Chinese Tencent Video relaying the footage worldwide .
According to the analysis of the DMR media monitor, the shows have also reached over 600 million users on social networks.
– Vaccines: saviors of fashion? –
Revenues for the Italian fashion sector fell 45% in the second quarter of 2020 – the strongest of the foreclosure – but losses for the full year are estimated at 26%.
The National Fashion Chamber released a study on economic trends in fashion earlier this month, examining various factors that may be shaping the industry’s recovery in the medium to long term.
In the most optimistic scenario, a successful mass vaccination campaign and strong support for businesses coming out of the crisis could lead to growth of around 15%, according to the report.
But if restrictions on business and social life continue through 2022, as authorities struggle to eradicate the virus, the rebound could be limited to 6% growth, he said.
Italy’s brand new government, headed by former European Bank chief Mario Draghi, is currently assessing the best way out of a crisis that has left more than 95,000 dead in the country and devastated the economy.
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