The COVID-19 pandemic — and the CDC’s recent recommendation that gatherings of 50 or more people be postponed for at least eight weeks — has resulted in the postponement of the Met Gala, scheduled to take place in New York on May 4, as well as the cancellation of several Los Angeles Fashion Week events that had been expected to take place across Southern California this month and next.
The Met Gala, always a big night for the fashion industry’s heavy hitters (this year’s accompanying exhibition, “About Time: Fashion and Duration,” is sponsored by Louis Vuitton), has traditionally showcased some of the most intriguing celebrity styles of the year, including Zendaya in full Cinderella regalia (in 2019) and Rihanna in full papal regalia (in 2018).
“The museum will remain closed through Saturday, April 4,” a Metropolitan Museum of Art spokesperson told The Times in an email. “Additionally, the CDC advised over the weekend that there should not be any gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks. In deference to this guidance, all programs and events through May 15 will be canceled or postponed.” No new date has been set for the gala.
Closer to home, the list of fashion events impacted by efforts to limit the spread of the virus include a runway show by L.A.-based designer Heidi Merrick, who had planned to follow last season’s Ventura County field frolic with one March 14 on the same plot of land some 64 miles north of Los Angeles. (She notified invitees on March 13 that the event was off.)
“Out of caution, and following the advice of public health officials, we have decided to postpone Heidi’s Autumn/Winter 2020 fashion show scheduled for tomorrow, March 14,” the email read in part. “We had been looking forward to celebrating with all of you and intend to reschedule when it’s safe to do so.”
A few hours later came word that L.A. Fashion Week, which had been planning a three-day slate of runway shows and events toward the end of the month at the Petersen Automotive Museum, also was pulling the plug.
“Due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 ... the current season of events happening March 27-29 will be postponed until further notice,” wrote the LAFW media team in an email. “The safety and health of our community, staff, designers and attendees take priority before anything else.”
The other major player on the Los Angeles fashion week scene, Art Hearts Fashion (which just last season received a certificate of recognition from the office of L.A. City Councilman José Huizar for its “contribution to the cultural diversity and economic contribution to the city of Los Angeles”), issued a similar statement officially canceling its run of events scheduled for the Majestic Downtown March 26-28.
“Due to heightened circumstances and health concerns, at this time we have decided to postpone Los Angeles Fashion Week,” Art Hearts Fashion International President Erik Rosete said in an email. “The health and safety of our employees, guests and participants are a top priority, and we do not want to put anyone at risk at such a sensitive time. We are closely monitoring the frequently evolving COVID-19 on both local and state health departments to ensure we are taking the correct precautions. We are saddened that we have to postpone all Los Angeles Fashion Week events at this time, but we are watching current circumstances unfold as we prepare the new dates.”
Vegan Fashion Week, which had originally planned to host two days of designer showrooms in early April capped off with a multibrand runway show the evening of April 4, still plans to highlight its participating labels, said organizer Emmanuelle Rienda, although in a slightly different format than she originally envisioned.
“Right now many of the designers can’t be here because of the [travel] ban,” Rienda told The Times Monday, “and I don’t want to organize any [physical] gathering whatsoever because of the CDC recommendations.” The workaround? “We’re going to create a fashion show behind closed doors that we will stream online,” she said. “And we’ll be having one-on-one videos where people can express their vision about what’s going on and [share] a message of hope about how we can grow from this.”
One thing Rienda is absolutely sure about, though, is that she isn’t canceling her event entirely. She said that focusing on animal-free alternatives is more important than ever. “We really need to discuss all of these viruses,” Rienda said. “They’re all due to animal exploitation. This time it’s Wuhan, China, and the pangolins, but we’ve had H1N1, the swine flu, Ebola — all of these are due to animal exploitation. So I think the message is an important one. The public event might be canceled, but the message cannot be.”