2020 Times Square Fashion Week

Fashion Week During a Pandemic: Pulling off the 2020 Times Square Fashion Week

In Fashion Features, Mingle Mastermindby Hannah Hargrove

Pulling off a major fashion event is never easy, but pulling off the 2020 Times Square Fashion Week during a global pandemic? Incredibly difficult, yet incredibly worth it. With the help of Times Square Alliance and the Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, DCG Media and Fashion Mingle put on the second annual Times Square Fashion Week on September 15. The event was the first of its kind to be held in Times Square since the shut down of New York City due to the COVID outbreak. There were moments of minor catastrophes and technical difficulties, but more importantly, there were moments of joy, moments of awe, and an overall feeling that New York City is back.

What Went Well and What Went Wrong at the 2020 Times Square Fashion Week

This year’s Times Square Fashion Week had pieces from seven different designers, including Cenia Paredes of Cenia New York, Justin Hayes of JUS10H, Isabella Barrett of House of Barretti, Cherelle Townes of Xévonquii, Gloria Lee of her self-named label, Marcelle Gakam of Chokomode, and Kimberly Pucci of Kimberly Pucci Altier. Cenia, Justin, and Isabella had the opportunity to do a photoshoot of their collections in the wide-open spaces of a sparsely populated Times Square with notable fashion and lifestyle photographer,  Eric Vitale. All of the designers showcased their collections on the iconic red stairs in Father Duffy Square, the heart of Times Square.

Following the photoshoots, the designers, special guests, and media gathered together (socially distanced, of course) for a press conference in which Gale Brewer spoke. “It’s been a very tough year for the fashion industry, and today we are here to say that fashion is back and New York is back and ready for visitors,” said Brewer. Following the press conference, attendees gathered to some of the designs and promotions of the designers, which were featured on the iconic Times Square billboards.

It all sounds magical, and it truly was, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t unexpected complications. Designer Justin Hayes, whose collection featured bright colors, quirky patchwork, and chic blazers, admitted that COVID restrictions made getting ready for the show a different experience than he was used to. “It was difficult to house and dress the models, to make sure makeup was okay, to make sure hair was okay, because of all of the restrictions,” said Justin. “That was a challenge for a designer that is hands on like I am, but we made the best of it.”

However, Justin will be the first to tell you that the experience was all worth it. “We all managed well. All of the designers were very respectful of each other’s time, of each other’s space, and we made sure to work together to make the best of the situation,” said Justin. “From a designer’s point of view, to get the exposure that we’ve gotten from this event, all of the press, I absolutely think that in a pandemic, you all did an amazing job for a designer like me. It was all worthwhile.”

Sustainable Designer Justin Haynes stands with his models in front of the iconic red stairs in Father Duffy Square.

Fellow designer Gloria Lee would very much agree. Gloria featured a white dress that is not exactly a new design, but is iconic for her brand. She added embroidery to the dress, to symbolize hope for the times we are living through. On her overall experience at Times Square Fashion Week, Gloria said, “It was amazing. It was just as gorgeous as any red carpet or any other event.

Designer Gloria Lee stands with her model in front of the red stairs.

Elaine Said of THROW NYC was also present at Times Square Fashion Week. THROW NYC were the official suppliers of the Times Square Fashion Week face mask. “For us it was an honor, and it was very interesting to be a part of the first COVID event in Times Square,” said Elaine. “You made something happen, and I’m sure next year is going to be much bigger.” THROW NYC currently has a line of beautiful and sustainable silk masks and scarves that can be converted into masks. The Times Square Fashion Week face masks are still available for purchase as well. Proceeds from these sales will go to benefit City Harvest, a food rescue organization that feeds hungry New Yorkers. You can buy your Times Square Face Mask here.

THROW Catalyst, Elaine Said and Chief Re-Designer, Anthony Lilore wear the NYC Times Square Fashion Week face masks at the event.

In charge of capturing much of the event was photographer Eric Vitale, who has a client list that includes Burberry Brit, Sony Music, Jimmy Choo, The Today Show, Good Morning America, People Magazine, and many more, and has done quite a few shoots in Times Square. “I’ve shot a lot in Times Square, but this time was obviously very different because of the pandemic,” said Eric. “It was obviously very quiet compared to what it used to be, but it was nice to see that people are coming back. People were out in the streets, more and more businesses are opening back up. I think New York is really doing well despite all of the challenges we’re facing.”

Eric also had a lot of positive things to say about working with DCG Media and Fashion Mingle. “I really love working with you all, you always bring the best people to the table. I’ve always had such a positive experience with your designers. The makeup teams, the media teams, everyone who was there just brought such an air of positivity,” said Eric. “This was a great launching point to let everyone know that New York is as strong as ever.” It clearly takes a strong team to be able to pull off such a successful event during these crazy times.

In fact, DCG Media and Fashion Mingle were able to secure some pretty special guests for the event. In addition to Gale Brewer, New York philanthropist and socialite Jean Shafiroff was present to serve as Mistress of Ceremonies. “She does just so much for this community,” said Dee Rivera, CEO of DCG Media. “She so graciously donated her time to this event, and we’re really thankful.”

And that right there is the key to a successful fashion event: a network of creative, hardworking, and philanthropic people within New York and the fashion industry, willing to put in the time and effort global pandemic or not. “We’ve got such a wonderful network and so many people that we can call on,” said Melissa Shea, CEO for Fashion Mingle. In fact, it was thanks to connections built up with Gale Brewer over the years that the event was able to even happen, since much of the city is still on firm COVID restrictions.

Philanthropist, Jean Shafiroff and Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer at Times Square Fashion Week

And of course, what is a fashion show without some technical difficulties? At the end of the evening, attendees gathered around to view designer and sponsor promotions on the Times Square billboards…and they didn’t appear. This was after a last-minute change in billboards that required a scrambled effort to resize graphics and images. “We all know, anyone who’s done events like this, expect the unexpected, plan for the worst but hope for the best,” said Dale Noelle, CEO of True Model Management, which supplied many of the models for the event. “But as you know, the show must go on.”

Eventually the billboards were fixed, and each of the designers and sponsors were able to see their collections and promotions appear among some of the most successful companies in the world. “Challenges were definitely intensified, but the end result was just phenomenal,” said Dale.

Overall, Times Square Fashion Week was very different compared to almost any other fashion event. “It was very quiet compared to other fashion events, we weren’t yelling or blasting music, but it was very emotional,” said Dale. “It was very uplifting in kind of a calm way. It was kind of surreal to be in the middle of Times Square when everyone said it would be impossible. But there was a great energy, and it felt like New York was back.”

Interested in watching the events of Times Square Fashion Week for yourself? The show is available to stream on the Global Fashion Channel  right now!

Make sure you tune into Fashion Mingle’s Mingle Mastermind webinar every Friday at 1PM EST. You can register in advance here or watch live on Facebook. Click here to watch past webinars.

About Hannah Hargrove

Originally from New Mexico, Hannah Hargrove moved to Durango, Colorado in 2014 to pursue a college volleyball scholarship at Fort Lewis College. Following the completion of her bachelor’s degree in English, Hannah moved to Denver to continue her education with a graduate degree in Communications with a specialization in New Media. Hannah is planning to pursue a career in the fashion industry in a marketing or professional communications capacity.

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