The tenth anniversary of 9/11 will be on the minds of many New Yorkers this weekend. But fashionistas, designers and labels will have their eyes on the Lincoln Center runways for New York’s annual Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, which runs from Thursday through Sept. 15.
“The whole mythology of the fashion world is looking forward,” said Professor Hazel Clark, Dean of Art and Design History at Parsons The New School for Design. “Right now, one is looking forward to Spring 2012. That’s what it’s about.”
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, white tents were up and spike heels were clattering down runways set up in Bryant Park. New York Fashion Week 2001 was clipped short due to the 9/11 attacks. Many designers quietly showed their collections to journalists and to clothing buyers.
Ten years later, the organizer of New York’s Fashion Week, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (C.F.D.A.), doesn’t have any Fashion Week events planned to honor the anniversary of 9/11.
“We’ve always had to deal with 9/11 just based on the schedule of how fashion works and operates,” said the executive director of C.F.D.A., Stephen Kolb.
Kolb said that although there were no 9/11 tributes on the official Fashion Week schedule, his non-profit trade association had partnered with Action America to encourage members of the fashion community to turn Sunday into a day of service.
“We thought it was appropriate to support this idea of turning the day into a day of positive action and use social media to spread the word,” he said.
He added that some big name designers like Tommy Hilfiger and Diane Von Furstenberg would also be donating money to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
NYU Professor Minh-Ha Pham, who has examined the relationship between 9/11 and the fashion world in a paper titled “The Right to Fashion in the Age of Terrorism,” said it wasn’t surprising that Fashion Week would be held as scheduled despite the anniversary of the attacks.
“It’s not strange if we think about the ways in which fashion itself has had a very short attention span,” she said. “Fashion is about seasons that shift and change and now are accelerated. What happened a year ago is a long time passed. Fashion is nothing if it’s not about change.”
Some designers like Stephen Burrows will be privately remembering the anniversary of the attacks on Sunday. His friend Berry Berenson was on the first of two planes that hit the World Trade Center towers.
“I just say a prayer for my friend and for all the people who died,” Burrows said. “That’s about as much as I’m going to do. It’s very private. Though I’m mindful of it, life still goes on. Observing it and taking a moment of silence to me is enough.