Fashion News Alert: Balmain Draws Inspiration from Barbie, Omicron Variant Delays European Tradeshows, and the NYFW Mask Mandate

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It is only the first week of 2022 and the fashion collaboration battle has already begun. Surprisingly, the first major fashion collaboration of 2022 is between a major European fashion house and an inanimate object. That collaboration is between Balmain and Barbie.

It that is not enough Balmain Creative Director Olivier Rousteing is making garments for the iconic plastic doll. That’s been done before. Rousteing is creating a 50-piece collection inspired by the iconic toy.

The collection is modeled by racially diverse avatars with all the garments being unisex. In other words, there is no Barbie/Ken divide.

“Having Barbie in my Balmain army, making a collection inspired by her where there are no boy clothes or girl clothes, is my small revenge,” said Olivier Rousteing, the creative director of Balmain, as reported in the “I think Barbie represents a joyful dream world. There’s nothing wrong with a dream. But let’s push the dream and not dream of the 1950s or 1960s, but 2022. For me, it’s a lot more than just a commercial project. It’s very emotional.”

Balmain is not the only fashion house/brand to design for Barbie or use Barbie as an inspiration. In the past, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Michael Kors, Donatella Versace, Diane von Furstenberg, Byron Lars, and Karl Lagerfeld have in some way been attached to Barbie.

Price points for the 50-piece collection are quite steep, with tee shirts costing $295 and $42,495 for a signature gown. The color palette ranges from fuchsia to bubble gum with hints of yellow, white, and blue, all done in Barbie’s signature saccharine sweetness.

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Delays, and more delays

As the COVID-19 Omicron variant continues to cause havoc globally, many European tradeshows that were scheduled for early January have had to reschedule. As Milan Fashion Week and the Pitti Uomo trade show have had to cancel their shows and events, French tradeshows and fashion events are following suit.

Trade shows Salon International de la Lingerie (SIL) and its upstream counterpart Interfilière Paris have postponed their joint edition scheduled to run from January 22 to 24. For over the 200 lingerie brands that were to present at the SIL, two thirds of those brands were coming from other countries.

“We called our exhibitors and they told us about their constraints,” said Eurovet’s lingerie and swim division director Taya de Reyniès. “People from countries including the UK cannot come and the UK represents our third or fourth top country for visitors. Asian exhibitors also relied on [representatives from] their British office to attend and this is no longer possible. The show’s selling point is its international appeal. This is what our exhibitors expect, and we have had too low a registration level to be able to draw visitors to this edition.”

SIL and the Interfilière Paris trade shows have been postponed and moved to June 18 to 20 in Paris’ Porte de Versailles’ in Hall 7.2. 

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NYFW mandates

The COVID-19 Omicron is already causing some changes in the fashion industry. The CFDA recently announced that they are putting in place a mask mandate for New York Fashion Week (NYFW) show schedule for February 2022.

The CFDA in collaboration with IMG will require masks at all indoors events except for designated eating and drinking areas. Models walking the runway will not be required to wear masks. Additionally, NYFW attendees will have to present proof of current COVID vaccination.

NYFW will take place February 11 through February 16, and the list of in-person presentations has not been confirmed.  “The CFDA will continue to support the American fashion community as brands decide what approach is best for their business,” the organization states in its memo, as reported in “RUNWAY360 continues to be our central virtual home for NYFW as it has been throughout the pandemic.”

Because of the rise in COVID Omicron infections in Europe, many European designers are bowing out of European fashion weeks. “As we continue to navigate the fluid nature of the pandemic, we will update the above should the situation change in the coming weeks,” the CFDA added.

—William S. Gooch

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