Italian designer Giorgio Armani has announced that his coming shows at Milan Fashion Week Men’s and the Paris Haute Couture week have both been cancelled.
Citing concerns over the new Omicron variant running rampant across Europe, Armani, 87, said that with “great regret and following careful reflection, in light of the worsening epidemiological situation", he felt compelled to halt the shows, both scheduled for later this month.
The designer said that while fashion shows are “crucial and irreplaceable occasions", he felt duty-bound to protect people, and that the “health and safety of both employees and the public must once again take priority".
What makes this noteworthy is that when the pandemic began, Armani was the first designer to react to the health concerns, shuttering the doors to his autumn/winter 2020 Milan women's ready-to-wear collection to an audience, and instead delivering the show to an empty room.
The fashion world accused him of overreacting, yet within weeks, millions were under lockdown. Now, in cancelling his events once more – having only recently restarted them in person – this sends an important message: that this pandemic is still far from over.
The news from Armani will come as a blow to the industry that is still cautiously re-emerging with in-person shows. The storied haute couture event in Paris has been operating without live shows from several keys players for more than a year, with names such as Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad and Georges Hobeika missing the event because of the pandemic and the August 2020 Beirut explosion.
In Florence, the menswear event Pitti Uomo is returning after a two-year hiatus, with many designers staging their first live show since 2020. This includes Loewe creative director JW Anderson, who is staging an in-person event for his eponymous brand for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
As of yet, no other designers have followed Armani, and the rest of the schedule at Milan Men’s Fashion Week and Paris Haute Couture week remain unaltered. However, as he has shown with regularity throughout his 40-plus-year career, Armani is adept at predicting shifts in mood and atmosphere, and where he goes, others tend to follow.