“The Times They Are A-Changing”

“The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali

So, how does fashion and the luxury market figure into a world that has been turned upside down by the coronavirus? As Kay Unger told me a few weeks ago, “everything that needed to change will change in order to be sustainable”. We are seeing signs of that daily. Going forward, what can possibly justify the peril, or the expense of having editors, buyers, and celebrities ‘schlep’ across the globe just to see a fashion extravaganza?

In yet another indication that things are rapidly changing, it was announced on Friday that The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, has officially canceled the upcoming men’s and couture fashion weeks. The spring 2021 men’s shows were originally scheduled for June 23 to 28; couture would have taken place several days later from July 5 to July 9. The Camera Nazionale della Moda, which oversees Italian fashion, has also just postponed its slate of men’s shows from June 19 to 23; they will now take place alongside its womenswear week in September.

According to vogue.com, The Camera Nazionale della Moda is promising “new ways of exhibiting fashion” such as digital fashion shows or virtual showrooms. Is this the end of the fashion show as an extravaganza? Instead of wasting millions of dollars to construct ski villages and beaches as a backdrop for fashion, the emphasis will hopefully and assuredly be put back where it belongs: on the clothes themselves.

Marc Jacobs
Photo by Shutterstock.com

WWD’s Bridget Foley is currently focusing on the pandemic’s impact on designers’ personal and professional lives and the human toll this is taking. In the interview Bridget conducted with Marc Jacobs last week, the designer says he is making sure his staff is well taken care of during this pandemic. He is also donating to anti-hunger establishments. Marc admitted that business up until this point has been challenging, but it will be even more challenging going forward because luxury items are not necessities. The designer defended the luxury sector, and he considers any form of creativity to be a luxury.

Phillip Lim
Photo by Lexie Moreland WWD

In Bridget Foley’s interview with Philip Lim on Thursday, Lim spoke of the “relentless speed and mindset of more,” which have become negative forces in the culture. The Covid 19 pandemic has intensified his belief that fashion must change. “We have the ability and permission to reset, and we don’t have a choice,” Phillip admits he changes his clothes every day. “The power of clothing is that it allows us to disconnect or connect, and brings us to more of a sense of purpose and place”.

Tom Ford
Photo: shutterstock.com

Tom Ford told Bridget Foley that paying his staff is his number one priority. The CFDA chairman emphasized that fashion is the second largest industry after food. We express ourselves through fashion, and there is a need for that. It is not going away, but it will morph. Tom said that with or without a runway show in September, his spring 2021 runway collection will expand to include “beautiful clothes that people want to buy”.

Ralph Rucci
Photo: galeriemagazine.com

Beautiful, timeless designs are always covetable items, but perhaps they are even more so right now. In a recent phone conversation I had with Ralph Rucci, the couturier asked, “Don’t you find your eye is gravitating to Mme. Gres rather than Gucci?” While I do think there is a place for both, I agree that overtly tricky ironic designs seem irrelevant and out of step with the current situation.

Nili Lotan Spring 2020 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

I am always in search of distinctive, well-designed wardrobe basics that are versatile and have no expiration date. Israeli-American designer fashion Nili Lotan has built her business on this credo. She believes clothes should be “clean and sophisticated, not loud or aggressive.”

In an email sent by her company’s website the other day, the subject line read “For Life”. Clothes for life. I would rather see this than “Your week in chic”, as proposed by Intermix. I have to admit that I have been spending a lot of time ‘shopping’ online if only to browse, be inspired, and fantasize about the future. It is a much-needed distraction

Stella McCartney Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

Functional, protective clothing that shields one from the elements, such as Stella McCartney’s greatcoats with face obscuring collars, could not be more appealing at the moment. These items, rather than special occasion party clothes, will assuredly find an audience. I believe a certain “relatable ease” will soon pervade the luxury market.

Dr. Deborah Birx
Photo: washingtonpost.com

Do you know who is an unwitting style star?? Dr. Deborah Birx, the American physician and diplomat who now serves as the response coordinator for the Coronavirus Task Force. The 63-year-old is a retired U.S. Army physician who was appointed to the global AIDS Ambassador post by President Barack Obama in 2014.

Dr. Birx is usually standing next to President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Dr. Anthony Fauci during the daily coronavirus briefings. She is always perfectly groomed and appropriately turned out with her well-cut jackets and Hermes scarves. She spends time considering her choices. I am not the only one who has taken note of her distinct flair for fashion.

As we end the second full week of our new unreality, I’m sure I am not the only one who has noticed how life has quickly changed. Do you know what put a smile on my face the other day? It wasn’t getting a delivery from Netaporter. I squealed with delight upon finding a small bottle of Purell I had squired away in a bag a while ago! It was like striking gold.

While I have a sophisticated palette, what I crave these days are gooey melted cheese and sticky peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Ah, the little pleasures in life.

Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

I cannot travel to Italy, but I can go to Eataly. Their restaurants closed, but fortunately, the produce section, fish, and meat markets have remained open. I can’t vacation in dreamy destinations, but I make do with Eataly’s fragrant soaps with scenic drawings of Sardinia, Sicily, Portofino, Lake Como on the packaging. Meanwhile, the New York Post reported that Eataly is in talks to either lease or buy a portion of the former Barneys New York flagship on Madison Avenue.

There is something painfully ironic about the timing of this year’s exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Center, “About Time: Fashion And Duration,” which traces “more than a century and a half of fashion along a disruptive timeline.” Talk about a disruptive timeline!

Everything was moving at such a quick pace, and now it has come to a screeching halt. It almost feels like time is standing still. We all complained about not having enough time, and now we have too much time. Instead of checking our datebooks, weekly planners, and calendars for upcoming appointments and events, we are now trying to figure out how much time will pass before we will be able to resume our normal lives.

Whatever that new normal is.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

  1. You are the best writer on the fashion scene bar none. ‘overly tricky designs’ and their obscene prices – the industry is awash with such and I find all the excess shameful and embarrassing.

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