Reflections on Fashion Week in the Shadow of War

This week on The BoF Podcast, founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed sat down with editor-at-large Tim Blanks to reflect on the fashion month gone by. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began the day Prada showed in Milan, raised questions about whether it was appropriate for fashion week to go on amid the horror and how the industry should respond to the unfolding tragedy and loss of human life.

Initially, fashion remained in its own bubble, seemingly unaffected by the crisis, wrote Amed in his opinion piece “Fashion Week in the Fog of War: To Speak Up or Stay Silent?

“The incongruity of it was obviously enormous, and it was just such a disconnect to see the news in the morning before you leave your hotel room to go to shows to see what was happening,” said Blanks.

By the end of Milan, when Giorgio Armani held his show in silence, there were signs that the industry was beginning to pay attention. Demna’s Balenciaga show in Paris — intended to be a comment on climate change as models trudged stoically against a snowstorm — couldn’t help bring to mind the plight of Ukrainian refugees, especially given that Demna fled his native Georgia due to Russian aggression 30 years earlier.

Another standout, Rick Owens, replaced his typically very heavy, dark and pounding show soundtrack with Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. Elsewhere, brands like Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu grappled with youth, Matthieu Blazy presented his first collection for Bottega Veneta and Glenn Martins built buzz with Diesel.

Blanks and Amed recap the season and discuss how designers approached acknowledging (or ignoring) the war, as well as what the still-unfolding crisis means for fashion.

“Beauty is even more vital in dark times to salve the soul … You look at that and you think there will be a better day ahead,” said Blanks.

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