Coronavirus sees Cape fashion shows cancelled, but only for the audience

The show must go on, online that is

17 March 2020 - 09:25 By Toni Jaye Singer
The Amen show at AFI Fashion Week was presented to a digital audience after live presentations where cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Amen show at AFI Fashion Week was presented to a digital audience after live presentations where cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Image: Africa Fashion International

In the wake of coronavirus, Africa Fashion International (AFI) cancelled the third and final day of Cape Town Fashion Week on Saturday, but only for the audience. For the designers and models, it was business as usual. After all, the (fashion) show must go on.

Models walked the runway in a room filled with empty chairs at the Cape Town International Convention Centre as the shows were streamed via social media. This innovative move enabled the designers, who typically invest a great deal of time, money and energy into their catwalk presentations, to still debut their collections.

AFI explained that the live shows had been cancelled in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19 and that all tickets would be refunded via Webtickets.

The fashion labels affected by shutdown included Kahindo, Scalo, Urban Zulu, Amen, Ituen Basi, Imprint and MaXhosa.

Looking at photos of models strutting their stuff for a phantom audience is surreal — and somewhat eerie — especially when you compare them with snaps of earlier shows, where fashionistas filled the seats.

Laduma Ngxokolo of MaXhosa is one of SA's most globally successful designers, so ordinarily his show at AFI Fashion Week Cape Town would have attracted hoards of adoring fashionistas.
DAY 3 Laduma Ngxokolo of MaXhosa is one of SA's most globally successful designers, so ordinarily his show at AFI Fashion Week Cape Town would have attracted hoards of adoring fashionistas.
Image: Africa Fashion International
It was a full house at the Stefania Morland show on the opening night of AFI Fashion Week Cape Town.
DAY 1 It was a full house at the Stefania Morland show on the opening night of AFI Fashion Week Cape Town.
Image: Africa Fashion International
Rapper Reason performs to an audience of vacant chairs during the Urban Zulu show at AFI Fashion Week Cape Town.
DAY 3 Rapper Reason performs to an audience of vacant chairs during the Urban Zulu show at AFI Fashion Week Cape Town.
Image: Africa Fashion International
The Michelle Ludek show at AFI Fashion Week Cape Town was well attended.
DAY 2 The Michelle Ludek show at AFI Fashion Week Cape Town was well attended.
Image: Africa Fashion International

Somewhat ironically, the opening show of AFI Fashion Week Cape Town on March 12 saw designer Gavin Rajah use styling to draw attention to the coronavirus pandemic. Some models donned “surgical masks” made of glittering rhinestones, while others wore plastic coverings over their heads reminiscent of hazmat suits.