Giorgio Armani cancels Milan Fashion Week show over coronavirus fears

Associated Press
A worker holds a face mask outside the theatre where the Italian designer Giorgio Armani said his Milan Fashion Week show would take place in Milan - REUTERS

Giorgio Armani is holding his Milan Fashion Week runway show behind closed doors on Sunday due to concerns raised by the coronavirus, and instead stream the event from inside the empty showroom.

The fashion house said in a statement early Sunday that ''the decision was taken to safeguard the well-being of all his invited guests by not having them attend crowded spaces".

A dozen towns in northern Italy have gone on effective lockdown after the deaths of two people infected with the new virus from China. Milan is the capital of Italy's Lombardy region, which reported 54 confirmed cases.

The rest of Milan's runway shows scheduled for Sunday are to go ahead as planned, fashion officials confirmed.

The Italian National Fashion Chamber said in a statement there were no indications from health officials that changes were necessary. It said it was up to individual brands to decide if they would go ahead.

Armani announced overnight that as a precaution, his runway show on Sunday would be conducted in an empty showroom and streamed for the fashion public on the internet. It was the first time the 45-year-old Milan fashion house has taken such a step out of public health concerns.

A woman is taken into an ambulance amid a coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy - REUTERS

The fashion chamber said it respected Armani's decision, adding that it had no news of any other fashion houses changing their plans.

Dolce&Gabbana, which is not part of the fashion chamber, was scheduled to go on as planned, according to the press office.

Tuscan brand DROMe was preparing models for its morning show, one of eight shows scheduled for Sunday. Creative director Mariana Rosati said she did not believe there was reason to fear, as models sat nearby waiting for hair and make-up.

''I am very sorry what is going on. I know it is not predictable and obviously we need to be careful. But I actually think a lot of panic has been spread for not enough reasons," Rosati said. She said she thought fewer people would show up for the morning show, which had been overbooked.

"I hope the people are brave and not just succumbing to panic," Rosati said. ''We will try to bring good vibes in this moment." Soon all the seats were filled and the show started with a packed standing room only audience.