Summer fashion show goes virtual this year


The longstanding tradition of a live fashion show is in jeopardy in a post-COVID-19 world.

In response, fashion is going virtual.

A model makes his way down the runway at the 2019 New York Summer Fashion Explosion fashion show in 2019 in New York City. This year, the organization is going virtual with its annual event. PHOTO by MIKE CHAIKEN

One fashion organization with Connecticut ties, New York Summer Fashion Explosion, will be dipping its toes into virtual fashion shows in June.

Worldwide fashion shows were shut down in March when COVID-19 brought the fashion capitals of Europe to their knees. Worldwide fashion events in Milan and Paris are becoming virtual events this summer. The September shows in New York City also likely will be viewed only on a computer screen.

New York Summer Fashion Explosion, which usually holds a fashion event in June in the Big Apple, has decided to explore the brave new world of fashion with a virtual runway show of its own on June 20.

Connecticut’s Jessi-Mar Ewart, who hosts the fashion-flavored web show “Chat It Up” in Hartford and who works in Bristol, is part of the creative team behind NYSFE. He said the decision to go virtual was partially due to the recognition that June, in light of the pandemic, would be too soon to return to New York City.

“We have seen it coming for a long time,” said Ewart of the necessity of fashion going virtual. June’s event is seen as a way to find out if their faith in the new concept is well-founded.

A model walks the runway at the 2019 New York Summer Fashion Explosion fashion show . This year, the organization is going virtual with its annual event.

Fashion fans now will be able to forego the designer clothes, avoid celebrities and paparazzi and watch the style event in their PJs and slippers, armed with their homemade cocktail concoctions.

Ewart said the NYSFE virtual show is about more than an opportunity to see the latest styles and runway models.

“We wanted to help during the pandemic,” said Ewart. Some of the proceeds of the show will go to help those in need in the fashion industry, which has been hit particularly hard because of the economic fallout from COVID-19.

The response from designers to the concept has been overwhelming positive, said Ewart.

This virtual NYSFE will differ considerably from events of past years, beyond just the medium, said Ewart.

The template of each designer showing 12 to 20 garments and using a different model for each garment is being set aside. Additionally, the designers have to rely on surrogates to help prepare the models

Each designer for the NYSFE show will present five pieces, said Ewart. The designers also will share 10 models between them.

The Pink Maison Showroom in Atlanta will host the event rather than bringing it to New York City. The garments will be sent to Georgia, where NYSFE staff will help dress the models.

There also will be no hair and makeup teams to prepare the models. The models will all be responsible for their own hair and makeup, using mood boards from the designers for guidance.

A scene from the 2019 New York Summer Fashion Explosion runway event. This year, fans of the event will be presented with a virtual show.

Fashion press usually is an important component of a runway show. Photographers and reporters will pack together, shoulder to shoulder, at the end of the catwalk so they can share what they saw with readers or viewers who were not able to attend.

For the virtual NYSFE show, Ewart said the press will be restricted to three or four representatives per hour. All members of the press will be expected to maintain six feet of space between them.

For the designers, fashion shows typically are about trying to sell product.

But the NYSFE show has another goal in mind for the designers, said Ewart. NYSFE is trying to inspire designers to help them maintain their creative focus during the pandemic.

Additionally, Ewart sees the show as a way to provide fashion fans with a positive distraction from world events.

“We are optimistic that things will get back to normal,” said Ewart. But if virtual shows become the “new normal,” Ewart said NYSFE will be prepared.

The NYSFE virtual fashion show will be on Saturday, June 20 at 2 p.m.

The schedule of designers is: 2 p.m., House of Byfield (Netherlands) and Renee Dieu (Ireland); 3 p.m. Videmus Omnia and Van Miller; 4 p.m., Rose Pauline and Pink Maison Label.

Guests who want to watch the show will need to download an app after they buy their ticket. (Guests also will be able to watch via Zoom or YouTube. Facebook Live also is under consideration.)

Show tickets, which cost from $10 to $70, will be available at (search for NYSFE Virtual Fashion Show). Guests will receive a code five hours before the show that allows them to login and watch the show live.