Although Coronavirus did not succeed in shutting down the final week of 2020’s autumn shows, face masks and hand sanitiser were the most popular front-row accessories as concerns about the outbreak continue to rise.
After the last day of Milan Fashion Week was pretty much shut down entirely due to a major outbreak of Coronavirus cases in Northern Italy, many questioned whether the show would go on in the world’s style capital last week.
As hysteria spread across Paris, many rented vans or travelled by train to avoid airports and some – including Gwyneth Paltrow and Bella Hadid – echoed the industry’s concerns by posting selfies wearing masks. ‘Paranoid? Prudent? Panicked? Placid? Pandemic? Propaganda?’ Paltrow asked Instagram while on a plane to France. ‘Stay safe. Don’t shake hands. Wash frequently,’ she added.
With the number of confirmed cases in France reportedly up to 38 as of Thursday night, fears of COVID-19 escalated dramatically. President Emmanuel Macron described the situation as a ‘crisis, an epidemic that is coming,’ and many fashion professionals returned home early.
Despite all the panic however, the schedule did indeed get underway – with extra precautions taken at runway shows of course. At the entrance of the Dries Van Noten show, men in formal attire handed out face masks to anyone passing through and at Loewe, Pierre Hardy gave attendees miniature bottles of hand sanitiser in branded bags (a now highly coveted item).
Some even incorporated the current situation into their own lines, with Marine Serre debuting a series of designer face masks at her show on Wednesday. Describing her work as ‘futurewear,’ Serre’s anti-pollution masks are coincidentally timed, but it’s not actually the first time her sartorial vision has involved protective gear – she’s even gone as far as to completely cover her model’s faces in the past.
Meanwhile, any brands hosting collection ‘resees’ either postponed or cancelled their organised press appointments, such as LVMH which called off its famed annual Prize Cocktail Event for emerging designers. At the events, shows, and appointments which did in fact take place, people made sure to keep their distance from one another.