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Amsterdam Fashion Week 2020 returned from 17 to 19 September, the first edition amid an unprecedented challenge: coronavirus. While the pandemic resulted in various restrictions and necessary adjustments, creativity flourished more than ever during the Dutch fashion week. This paved the way for innovative and intimate events that focused on fresh ways of experiencing.
Amsterdam Fashion Week during the coronavirus crisis
The fashion world has been reeling since the coronavirus outbreak. For months, an industry in which physical connection is customary was no longer able to put on its usual shows and events. Amsterdam Fashion Week saw the fashion industry reunited en masse for the first time since the start of the pandemic, coming together to celebrate both established and new fashion talent.
It goes without saying that the necessary precautionary measures were in place. Brands shifted their usual fashion week focus away from shows, instead embracing experimental presentations that encapsulated both the label’s message and experience. Face masks were made available to visitors at all shows, and guests were welcomed to the events in shifts.
‘While the coronavirus crisis was initially a major setback, it actually resulted in creativity flourishing like never before’
The 1.5-metre rule applied at all events, but fashion shows were still on the programme. Labels such as Natan and CRUÈL presented their new collections at original, spacious locations such as the EYE Filmmuseum and the building that formerly housed the V&D department store. One thing’s for sure: alternative means of presentation dominated this edition of Amsterdam Fashion Week. International coat and bag label KASSL Editions opened AFW with a special guerrilla expo at Museum Voorlinden in Wassenaar, the first time in the fashion week’s history that the opening was hosted elsewhere than Amsterdam.
Elzinga introduced her new collection with a ‘coronavirus-proof’ concert at Paradiso, and Ronald van der Kemp created a live installation at Hotel De L’Europe. Designer Bodil Ouédraogo put on a performance at the Stedelijk Museum, Duran Lantink’s talent programme was highlighted with innovative presentations and Mulas Hybrid Haus used a fashion film in the former V&D building to present their collection. All of these changes played on the minds of visitors, but the reactions were mostly positive. Guests cast a critical eye on whether coronavirus measures were being observed, while the entire fashion press applauded the innovative collection presentations; introducing a smaller collection to a smaller audience meant a greater focus on the product and the underlying message.
Amsterdam Fashion Week is one of the first major events in the Dutch fashion world to make its re-entry. While the additional measures were initially a major setback, they ultimately resulted in genuine creativity flourishing as brands sought new show concepts in which both the message and experience remained intact. The physical occurrence of AFW caused a surge of euphoria for many a fashion professional, delighted to be reunited with colleagues and to have the chance to be inspired by new talent in situ. More than ever, this edition of Amsterdam Fashion Week highlighted how the power and magic of fashion can simply not be replaced by a digital show on a screen.
Written by Lara Oliveri