New York | How Fashion Evolved in the time of Covid-19 | NYFW

2.10.2022 New York, NY, USA

The idea of putting New York on hold is a metaphor. We've seen this city fight against stillness, and movement is what its soul craves. In the last two years, the fashion world in New York has undergone a series of transformations. We've come a long way in a short time, from an economic slumber that forced mass-market brands to close their doors to the emergence of style that served a higher purpose than just couture.

In 2020, I admired her designs from far at #newyorkfashionweek. In 2021 I got to wear them ❤️ Her designs are straight out of dreamland, and the uniqueness of it is so profound that even the passersby at the Central Park complimented me for it. 

Location: Central Park, New York
Published in Revenge Magazine, New York

                                                   Me, with Anastasia Li at #NYFW

Our needs have changed as we grapple with depressing news in today's world. While many may have adopted a lifestyle in which ice-cream bellies have replaced traditional forms, we cannot deny that fashion is responsible for a large portion of each country's livelihood. After the pandemic is over, we'll need clothing, though slightly oversized as comfort takes precedence over style, sooner or later.

We are slowly and figuratively trying to inject hope in despair by accepting pear-sized humane models with open arms, walking for more severe causes that need a voice, and bringing local artisans to light. Although some may refer to it as frugal, I refer to it as expansion. New York must go on and in style, whatever the case may be.

Local Cultures Abound

Vanny Tousignant, a well-known fashion designer and creator of International Fashion & Arts Week / New York Indonesia Fashion Week says: "I open the doors to the world of fashion in New York for Indonesian designers and artisans. Many of them don't know how to get here or how to be rewarded for their efforts."

                Indonesian Designers arrive at the airport for Feb 2022 New York Indonesia Fashion Week by Vanny. 

Magazines Galore

Since the beginning of the year, magazines have been at the forefront of regaining visibility. This year, we saw her expand her wings into magazines, where her work could reach out to the masses who are currently housebound. We're reviving the age-old tradition of reading magazines. 

         Me, being published as a volunteer director and media host #ifaweek6 in Int'l Fashion & Arts Magazine by Vanny Tousignant

Fashion Goes Locally Outdoors

As doors open to new ways to maintain fashion, we've seen it regain momentum once more as Covid cases begin to fall in New York. Even at its peak, we discovered that alternate methods of sustaining were the season's theme. We've seen online auditions and voting for private shows (Couture Fashion Week).

During the past six months, Alexander Gurman, the producer of Mr. Great Fashion Show, has come up with many such ideas, holding multiple shows in the area, often outdoors where risk is lower.

The outdoor shoot provides space for the models and makes them feel safer. The added advantage is the sparkle in the eyes of bystanders who have previously just seen fashion behind closed doors. 

Natasha Berezhnaya's designs, which are renowned in the theatrical world, have been seen floundering in angelic cityscapes.

Fashion Goes Billboards and UN 

Almost all the designers that have modeled for or collaborated with, including Pamela Quinzi, Heritage India's Prashant Goel, Natasha Berezhnaya, Vanny Tousignant, Dovile, were honored to be published on the Times Square Billboards/Big Adverts this past year. It was interesting because we shifted our focus from runways to getting ourselves out there in the world. 

 Also, I was fortunate to be modeling for the designer with the flare for Indian costumes, "Prashant Goel," at the United Nations Building in New York, which was a very unusual location yet very appealing as "We were representing India and its costumes to the world."  Designer Prashant Goel also received the Highest Honor Award, a Resolution from Her Excellency, the Mayor of Union, New Jersey, Michele Delisfort at the United Nations for his outstanding promotion of multiculturalism, arts and cultural diversity. Prashant designed pieces for Disney productions, the film Eat Pray Love, which starred Julia Roberts, and has designed for several government officials, including an anarkali gown for Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.

I think the theme this past year was, "If people aren't reaching us, let us reach them." Everything was experimental yet very profound. It spoke for itself in many ways; as many new models got a chance, designers focused more on building their profiles, makeup artists such as Nighat Mua launched their magazines or got published, like that. I felt a great sense of happiness for them because you know they deserve every ounce of recognition if you have worked with them. I have worked with Nighat and she is a pro as a make up artist. Her speciality is she never does over the top make up, yet she makes it look very natural and refined. 

Fashion & Cause

Amid the doom and gloom of winters and Covid-19, Alexander Gurman, a city native, arranged a fashion show with the dogs to spread positivity and optimism while also bringing attention to more severe issues such as animal cruelty.

Fashion, Creativity & Exotic Locales

Dovile Riebschlager, originally from Lithuania lives in Chicago, tells how water droplets inspired her when she was a teenager. Her innovative ensembles are now one-of-a-kind, as she aims for excellence in every piece she makes.

She frequently travels to New York from Chicago to perform in various shows, including Alexander's. Her portfolio has recently been packed with outdoor shoots in multiple locations around the United States, including the epic terrains of Utah. Isn't it fascinating how nature, as her source of inspiration, combines so well with the ambiance and textiles?

Model: Ashley Sierra Orr Photographic Illustrator: Chuck Coleman Designer: Dovile Riebschlager: Artist Shoes: John Ashford Bonneville salt Flats

Fashion and Sustainability

We've seen Vegan heels. We've seen sustainable fashion, as well as Patrick Duffy's Global Fashion Exchange. The idea is to let fashion 'quote and quote' there while reducing the amount of waste we produce and more wisely use our resources, providing the best and the best to wear.

In the coming years, the age of use-and-throw fashion will become obsolete as we focus on quality rather than quantity, which is also the need of the hour. Fashion resell / exchange sites, such as Poshmark and Thredup, for example, are growing in popularity, as are swap programs all over the city.We are leaning more towards eco-friendly and recycling fashion, which is a very effective change.  

A Boom for Photographers

This year has been both a bane and a boom, said Alexander, a fashion photographer and frequent traveler in the region. Although fashion used to only refer to fashion shows, this year has seen a massive increase in the hiring of freelance creative artists by magazines. I thoroughly enjoyed Alexander's company and ideas during the photo shoot because he was attentive and experimental.

Several fashion photographers' creative studios, such as Charles Mitchell's, have been overrun with portrait photography bookings. I loved Charles's photography skills because he clicks plenty of pictures, and so many of them come out to be just perfect, whether it's in the studio or outdoors. I think he can make look anyone beautiful on camera. 

Meanwhile, cameraman Luis helped me transition from just a regular runway model to a media host for NYFW and other shows during the pandemic, and I thought that was a big jump. Still, his constant support and videography skills made me believe in myself.  

But is it all safe?

Fashion has thrived, and designers have pushed the envelope using adaptive methods. However, a few designers and models would still prefer to stay at home rather than risk their health which as a matter of fact is a choice. 

Despite the slow speed and minimal participation over the last two years, a flow has emerged. Fashion transforms from a caterpillar to a butterfly, with more meaning, alignment, and a way to meet the masses rather than just the elites.

As regular people, models aren't dumb, and when I did shows when Covid was prevalent, most models came in their masks too! When it was at its peak, shows were cancelled or such venues were chosen where crowd was a distant possibility or live online shows were streamed. 

Designers are rooting for upcoming Feb 2022, but when it was September 2021 when situation was grim yet aiming to be better,  we've found ways to survive and thrive.  The proof is in the way we put on the shows. One such event was Joe Corbalis's Westchester Fashion Show, which took place. The fashion quotient must not die, even if it is masked and in style.

What do I think as a model?

If you were to ask me as a model, what did I gain from it? It's lovely to be a part of the change. When I first arrived in New York, I was astounded by how well people dressed. But, as I dug deeper, I realized that New York was born to breathe fashion.

It is now, as it has always been, a part of New York culture. And, while there were times last season when I stayed at home, refusing to leave, I couldn't help but smile when I saw the fashion shows I did or the editorials I got published. We discovered excellent copying mechanisms where outdoor became the need of the hour, and editorials took center stage.

A part of me refers to it as "creative madness." If it wasn't for an outdoor fashion show, would I have walked in the snow or with a dog? No. I would be ecstatic if I got published without even submitting a cover letter to magazines. But that is a rarity. Had I taken part in some studio shoots? Perhaps.

Nonetheless, here I am, filling that void with the opportunities that have arisen. I believe it's a space where reflection has given rise to "what can we do" rather than "what should we do," and it's a lovely place with the potential to brew change for the upcoming shows, whenever that may be.


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