There are those few minutes before a runway show at New York Fashion Week when the excitement builds to a crescendo. Crowds pour into the front of the house, squeezing onto too-small benches, while photographers jockey for even a couple of inches of space on rammed risers. Backstage, models, makeup artists, hair stylists, and dressers push to put finishing touches on looks that have taken months to create and have about 12 minutes to make an impression. Social distancing is the last thing on anyone’s mind.
That was then; this is now. COVID-19 has pressed pause on the insanity of the traditional runway shows, forcing designers to find new ways to showcase their collections and grab the attention of buyers, customers, and the fashion press. It hasn’t been easy.
Christian Juul Nielsen is one of the industry’s hottest designers. He had an impressive pedigree, with stints at Dior, Nina Ricci, and Galliano before starting his own line, AKNVAS, just a year ago. He was recently named creative director for the legendary brand Herve Leger. Oh, and he’s also debuting a menswear collection for spring/summer 2021. And he’s doing it all amid a pandemic, without the benefit of an in-person show.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, I started looking at the sketches and looking at what I liked,” he said. “I started playing around, and I started designing menswear right next to womenswear, and as I was doing this, I kind of realized that the collections would work well together. So I created two collections, the menswear, and the womenswear, and I mixed a lot of the pieces.”