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Fashion houses unveil plans for major shows behind closed doors

Fashion is following the example of football by restarting its season behind closed doors.

Christian Dior announced on Monday that a major show that had been scheduled to take place in May will go ahead on 22 July.

Models, makeup artists and musicians will be flown to Puglia in southern Italy for a blockbuster cruise show, for which a catwalk will be erected in Lecce’s Piazza del Duomo, with the city’s baroque cathedral as a backdrop.

Last year’s cruise show in Marrakech was staged in front of an audience of thousands and included the singer Diana Ross and the actors Shailene Woodley and Lupita Nyong’o, but this event will be played largely to camera – “like a beautiful movie”, according to Pietro Beccari, Dior’s chief executive.

The live audience will be limited to close friends and family of Dior’s creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, and her team. “I can’t say no to my mother,” said the designer.

Burberry announced this weekend that a show would take place outdoors in an as yet undisclosed location, which the designer Riccardo Tisci described only as “within the beautiful natural landscape of Britain”.

Scheduled for 17 September, on the eve of London fashion week, the show will be “a physical presentation that is open for all to experience digitally,” said Tisci. “Other than the models and our team, there will not be anybody physically at the location.”

Dior said that the brand was optimistic about holding a show in front of a live audience again within a few months. “We hope to at least have some audience, if not a full room [for the show scheduled for the end of September],” Beccari said. “Mr Dior founded this house after a war. He had the courage and the optimism to launch the New Look in 1947. It is in the DNA of Dior to stand up and ring a bell for fashion at this moment.”

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Milan’s fashion week in early July will be a digital-first event. But Dolce & Gabbana, whose show will be staged in the gardens of the Humanitas University, where they are funding a programme of research into coronavirus, hope to accommodate a small fashion industry audience in person.

The speedy restart of the fashion show system suggests that luxury’s most powerful brands are resisting calls to scale the industry down in the name of sustainability.

Chiuri pointed instead to her wish to support the carpenters, electricians, ceramicists and embroiderers who had been commissioned to work on the show. Chiuri, who has ancestors in Puglia and a holiday home there, said she wanted “to send a message of hope and of optimism and to help those people as they try to restart”.


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