by MIKE CHAIKEN
COVID-19 still has the fashion industry rethinking staples of its calendar such as the myriad of fashion weeks. In New York City, most designers are going virtual with their collection presentations.
However, with an abundance of caution, Atlantic City Fashion Week in New Jersey, is going forward with a live fashion event from Feb. 18-20.
This will be the second time, ACFW has gone live with its show during the pandemic. In September, organizers – husband and wife Lamont and Jeana Bowling—went ahead with the show after being prodded by designers and the public to try to put something together.
Like many fashion weeks across the globe, Lamont Bowling said, heading into September 2020, Atlantic City Fashion Week was under the impression that fall dates would not be possible due to the virus.
But then the organization started getting requests to reconsider.
Lamont Bowling said he was skeptical about the ability of ACFW to hold a September show, but he and his wife began asking questions to see what would be needed to make it happen.
They touched bases with the officials for the state of New Jersey as well as officials at the Center for Diseases Control. Could it be done? Could a fashion show be held and still comply with COVID restrictions?
Armed with information from the authorities, Lamont Bowling said ACFW decided to move forward with September shows.
To get there, Lamont Bowling said, the organization made plans for plenty of training. Each staff member is COVID certified. Protocols were put in place. The temperatures of all guests and staff had to be checked upon arrival. Hand sanitizers were placed everywhere. And masks were a must-have fashion accessory for everyone, except the models when they were on the runway. And social distancing “like crazy” was mapped out, which required ACFW to cap attendance at 150 people.
“It’s been a learning process,” said Lamont Bowling.
Not everyone was crazy about the idea of the show, said Lamont Bowling. Some regular designers opted out as did other possible participants.
However, the show went on.
More importantly, said Lamont Bowling, the precautions worked.
“We were really fortunate this past September to not have any COVID cases (associated with the show),” said Lamont Bowling.
February’s shows will see 72 designers showing their work and 190 models walking the runway. (Connecticut design house Society 21 is among the participants.)
“Which is amazing,” said Jeana Bowling. “It’s the most designers ever,” even pre-COVID. “So many people are excited (it’s going to happen).”
And even though, there is still a pandemic, Jeana Bowling said, “We’re going to keep people safe.”
“(COVID’s) part of the culture now and it’s something we had to deal with,” said Lamont Bowling.
ACFW will be held Feb. 18-20 at the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City. The Thursday show is at 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday will see shows at 3 and 7 p.m.
On Thursday, students from local university and colleges will enter in a runway style fashion show competition. This season will include students from Atlantic County Institute of Technology, Rowan University, Burlington County Institute of Technology and Rowan College Burlington County.
On Friday, ACFW will present a showcase of ready to wear and children designers.
On Saturday, ACFW will showcase couture and avant garde creations.
Each event will feature an array of vendors that will offer clothing and accessories. There will be an opportunity for attendees to purchase buy the clothing shown on the runway.
There also will be an opportunity to be photographed on the Atlantic City Fashion Week Red Carpet.
Tickets for Atlantic City Fashion Week start at $60 for general admission and can be bought at AtlanticCityFashionWeek.com.