Paris Fashion Week to Retake Live Shows Despite Omicron Surge

woman in white dress wearing sunglasses

Although the city is still in the throes Omicron surge, and adapting to the new Covid restrictions it faces, Paris Fashion Week will launch Tuesday.

After nearly two years of being offline, the industry is determined to return to the catwalks.

The fashion world is not afraid to face the challenges posed by the pandemic. As menswear week begins, most fashion houses will be back to live shows. Haute couture shows follow immediately.

Up from six last summer, 17 of the 76 official Paris menswear brands – including major names like Rick Owens, Hermes, and Dior – will return to the catwalk.

Nearly 30 other people are also opting to host other types of events – inviting buyers, journalists and other taste-makers around the French capital.

The first week will have a bittersweet taste, however, because Louis Vuitton will present the final collection of Virgil Abloh (US designer), who died in November after a private battle against cancer.

Louis Vuitton will present the show twice Thursday because of the high level of interest in Abloh, Kanye West’s close partner and who helped to break down glass ceilings for black designers.

Many are excited to see how streetwear veteran Nigo will work as Kenzo’s new artistic director.

There is also a lot of hype around French label Egonlab. It was launched two years ago with a series arty videos, and is now making its official debut in the official calendar.

Florentin Glemarec, co-founder, said that “presenting your work alongside the large houses that greatly influenced our work – it does something for you.”

Egonlab, like many fashion startups, is open to both online and live fashion. It is currently developing a line NFTs and Metaverse digital clothes in collaboration with Crocs footwear brand.

woman in white dress wearing sunglasses

“Caught in the Crossfire”

High-couture designers are also back on the catwalk with 18 of the 29 houses planning live shows, although with the now-common caveat of the virus throwing a wrench in the works.

There have been some changes already announced. The Sidaction charity night to raise money for AIDS research has been moved to July.

Giorgio Armani’s menswear show was cancelled in Milan, and his haute couture show in Paris because of the recent surge in Covid cases.

This decision was a sign of déjà vu as the 87-year old Italian maestro was the first to cancel his catwalk shows during the pandemic of February 2020.

Pascal Morand, the head of France’s Federation for Haute Couture and Fashion said that “it’s their choice.”

He stated that the FFP2 masks are one of the recommendations made by the Federation, but he was pleased to see brands return to the live sphere.

He told AFP that he had learned to live with the virus. Digital enriches the physical but can’t replace the emotional and sensory aspects of runway shows.

Some people still have reservations about attending in-person events.

Jean Paul Cauvin, the director of Julien Fournie Haute Couture, said, “I feel caught up in the crossfire.” He has been dealing with disruptions to positive tests among model and worker workers.

He said, “We would be disappointed not to be on a catwalk but I hope that we don’t create a haute couture cluster.”

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