The movable feast of fashion weeks continues. After Valentino decided to hold its couture show in Rome instead of Paris next week to celebrate the opening of a mega-store in the Italian capital, Givenchy announced that its spring 2016 ready-to-wear show would be held in New York rather than Paris, to celebrate the opening of its Manhattan flagship.
This is becoming something of a trend, and it makes sense from a strategic viewpoint: Shows and stores are part of a brand’s marketing juggernaut, so why not combine the two for the ultimate impact? Just imagine the celebrity appearances.
There’s one catch, however: The date of Givenchy’s show is Sept. 11, the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States.
New York Fashion Week almost always takes place around Sept. 11, as it did in 2001, and its history is interwoven with the events on the day of the attack. Givenchy did not ask that the show take place on Sept. 11, but it agreed with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, now in charge of the New York Fashion Week schedule, that the show would be on the second day of the season’s events, which run from Sept. 10 to 17. That happened to be the 11th. It worked best for both organizations, said Steven Kolb, chief executive of the CFDA.
But will it work for everyone else?
Celebrating what many might consider a festival of extravagance on a day of mourning is complicated. To hold a promotional event on Sept. 11 in New York — one that goes beyond the business as usual of the trade show that is fashion week — invites scrutiny and criticism, even if it pumps money into local businesses.
Givenchy is aware of this issue. “It’s a very delicate day for America,” the designer Riccardo Tisci told Women’s Wear Daily, “and so the show is going to be a celebration of family and love.”
It is possible to see fashion as a vehicle for self-affirmation and the freedom of self-determination, and to consider the addition of the show as an affirmation of economic growth.
“We are very pleased to have Givenchy showing in N.Y.,” Mr. Kolb wrote in an email. “It is a great addition and emphasizes the importance on NYFW as an influential market week.”
What would really make a difference, it seems to me, would be Givenchy’s acknowledging the significance of the date at its show (a moment of silence, a line in the show notes — it wouldn’t take a lot). In the past, few New York Fashion Week designers whose collections have been shown on the 11th have done so, and it has always felt jarring, a kind of denial.
Fashion may be about the future, but it has a responsibility to the past. As the New York show is a one-off, with all the extra attention that generates, Givenchy will have a singular opportunity to reconcile the two. Here’s hoping the house embraces it.