The fashion spectacle goes on with masked models, digital presentations

The COVID-19 pandemic isn't enough to cancel New York Fashion Week. (Photo: Getty Images)
The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t enough to cancel New York Fashion Week. (Photo: Getty Images)

New York Fashion Week kicks off on Sunday and it’s going to be a season like no other. The coronavirus pandemic has forced designers to get creative with their presentations and many will have a virtual footprint this year. However, there are a few big names still planning in-person shows — and many who opted out altogether. Here’s everything you need to know.

NYFW will operate in “full compliance” with COVID-19 safety guidelines

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and host IMG have worked with closely with New York state officials to ensure safety protocols are in place ahead of in-person gatherings.

“New York City is the fashion capital of the world and New York Fashion Week celebrates the ingenuity of this city, and our unmatched creative talent,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “When COVID-19 hit New York, so many of our cherished events were forced to cancel or be postponed. The pandemic is far from over, but we’re proud to support event organizer IMG in moving forward with NYFW, in adherence with strict state public health guidance. Safety, as always, is our top priority and we commend the hosts, and all participating designers, for their innovative, New York Smart solutions to bring this event to life.”

Executive Vice President of IMG’s Fashion Events Group Leslie Russo noted how the last six months have been “exceedingly difficult for the fashion industry.”

“We are proud to offer an avenue for designers, models, stylists, hair and makeup artists, photographers, production teams — ­and the innumerable other professionals who work in, or adjacent to, the fashion industry during New York Fashion Week — to safely get back to work this September,” she added. The event will run through Thursday, Sept. 17.

What are the safety measures, exactly?

Outdoor events will be capped at 50 people and indoor events at 50 percent capacity. Very few spectators will be allowed. Everyone — including models, designers and vendors — must adhere to social distancing at all times and be in compliance with New York’s travel advisory. (Currently, there are 35 states requiring a 14-day quarantine.) There will be diagnostic testing and health screening procedures prior to shows as well as temperature checks. Face coverings are required at all times.

Yes, there will still be some in-person shows — but they will be very different.

Jason Wu kick things off on Sunday evening with a runway show on the rooftop of Spring Studios.

“I think there’s only going to be 36 audience members, so that’s a big difference from 500. That’s usually the minimum, so that’s a big, big, big difference,” the designer told E! News. “We have to follow the governor’s guidelines, everyone getting checked five days minimum before the show. We’re keeping the backstage very…lean. And giving everyone personal space, making sure everyone’s wearing masks. The days of having hundreds of people backstage is just not what’s going to be happening this season. We need to give everybody ample room and make sure everybody is safe.”

When it comes to hair and makeup, Wu said “it’s like everyone has their own makeup artist and they have to do their hair separately in a different room altogether. They can’t all be in the same room, they have to do stations.”

Rebecca Minkoff will also have an in-person show on Tuesday, Sept. 15 and she has adapted. The designer told NBC that her 20 models will be spaced six feet apart and all of them will wear face coverings. Only 15 spectators will be in attendance.

Meanwhile, Christian Siriano will do an outdoor runway show on Thursday, Sept. 17 from his home in Connecticut.

Who gets to attend?

That’s up to each designer, but retail representatives and influential editors will likely still make the in-person guest list. But everyone is invited to tune into the presentations.

Most brands are going digital this season

NYFW is more accessible than ever before. Various presentations will be streamed on the CFDA’s new digital platform Runway360 and on IMG’s Brands will also post their content on their own websites and social channels. Designers are getting creative with how they will represent themselves during NYFW. For example, Carolina Herrera will release a film; however, it won’t showcase her new collection. Instead, it will be a conversation between Herrera and the label’s creative director, Wes Gordon. Marchesa, Badgley Mischka, Naeem Khan and Anna Sui are among those who will present digitally throughout the week. Tom Ford will upload imagery to Runway360.

“The innovative Runway360 digital platform… allows brands the flexibility to show their collections in a variety of formats and at a time that works for them, and engages domestic and international press, consumers and retailers, most of which are not currently able to travel to New York,” the CFDA said in a statement.

But some big designers are skipping altogether

Gucci, Michael Kors, Giorgio Armani, Alexander Wang, Marc Jacobs and Saint Laurent are among those who will have no presence during the five day event.

NYFW begins with Wu’s show Sunday night at 5 p.m. ET.

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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