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After the final day of Milan Fashion Week was mostly shut down due to an outbreak of coronavirus cases in Italy last week, many editors cautiously continued on to Paris Fashion Week for the fall 2020 shows. Some rented vans in order to avoid airports, taking the opportunity to catch a picturesque glimpse of the Swiss Alps along the way. And some (including Bella Hadid and Gwyneth Paltrow) wore masks on the plane, taking the opportunity to post a picturesque selfie.
“Paranoid? Prudent? Panicked? Placid? Pandemic? Propaganda?” Paltrow wrote in an Instagram comment on her way to Paris, adding in reference to the suddenly relevant Contagion film, “I’ve already been in this movie.”
On the ground in Paris, fears of COVID-19 continued to escalate. “We are facing a crisis, an epidemic that is coming,” said the French president Emmanuel Macron while visiting staff at the hospital in Paris where the first French victim, a 60-year-old teacher, died on Tuesday night.
As of Thursday night, the number of confirmed cases in France was reportedly 38 — up from 18 on Wednesday. Some fashion-industry professionals were said to have returned home early, while extra precautions were taken at runway shows.
At the Dries Van Noten runway show on Wednesday, men in suits and ties passed out face masks. At Lemaire later that night, face masks and hand sanitizer were also available. Same for Loewe on Friday morning. Pierre Hardy passed out miniature bottles of hand sanitizer in branded bags — a soon-to-be coveted item.
Meanwhile, many brands hosting resees of their collections either canceled or postponed their press appointments; some opted not to send members of their teams based in America. LVMH canceled its LVMH Prize cocktail event on Thursday night, although presentations will continue as scheduled for the prize finalists. At the shows, appointments, and events that did take place, people kept their distance from one another.
“Due to the current Corona outbreak, we do not shake hands,” wrote one PR agency on a door sign. “We are happy to [be] receiving you here and we are excited to show you our new collections.”
One thing brands can’t do anything about is the stock market. Business Insider reported that the virus could cost luxury brands $43 billion in sales, according to a survey by Bernstein and Boston Consulting Group. There’s also talk of some brands not being able to show collections next season, due to disruptions in the production chain.
We will update this post as Paris Fashion Week continues.