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NY Fashion Week in Pandemic Includes Models With Masks, Push for Racial Equity

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Fashion designers thought New York Fashion Week wasn't going to happen at all this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, but because of innovation and the current social climate, this year's NYFW will be more exclusive and inclusive than ever before.

The annual New York Fashion Week begins virtually on Saturday but it will also have in-person fashion shows with social distancing and masks through next week. Most of the events will be shot inside a SoHo studio and designers like Rebecca Minkoff says this year's fashion week will be an "outside the box" celebration.

Minkoff says 20 of her models will be spaced six feet apart and all of them are wearing face coverings. Unlike most of the other shows, Minkoff will have spectators but only 15 of them at a time, making the live shows one of the most limited fashion week ever.

This year's show will also be more diverse and inclusive than before, says founder and CEO of Harlem’s Fashion Row Brandice Daniel.

"Race was a conversation that people didn't want to have, didn't want to really discuss. I would actually say over the last few years that started to change and shift," said Daniel, who has been highlighting Black designers for over a decade.

The Black in Fashion Council, an organization created this year to hold the fashion and beauty companies accountable after luxury brands like Prada and Gucci received backlash for racist imagery, will host a town hall Monday with founders Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles to discuss racial inequality in the industry.

Designer Kimberly Goodson says, "I would really want to be seen not as designers of color but designers who make a difference, who make dope clothing."

The same progress is being seen in Italy, the other home of fashion. Five Black-led Italian brands will make a digital presentation during the hybrid physical-digital Milan Fashion Week from Sept. 23-28, the national fashion chamber announced Thursday. And the week will open with a closed-door working group of key council members under the banner “Do Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion.”

Back in New York City, outdoor events will be capped at 50 people, and indoor events will be at 50 percent capacity — and perhaps more importantly, no crowds in attendance, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's mandate.

"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," Cuomo previously said. "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."

Fashion photographer Megan Cencula breaks down what it's like to shoot New York Fashion Week -- including the good and the bad.

More than 40 designers will be participating in NYFW this year, according to the organizers.

"The past six months have been exceedingly difficult for the fashion industry, and 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," said Leslie Russo, the Executive Vice President of IMG's Fashion Events Group.

Kay Angrum takes you into the front row at New York Fashion Week.
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