Susie Lau: ‘The world has changed and so must fashion’

Covid-19 stopped fashion in its tracks: shows were cancelled, collections mothballed. Stuck at home, front row regular and fashion influencer Susie Lau started baking. Then she realised: a creative revolution was happening…

Back in mid-March, I was in full-throttle fashion mode. I had just finished up the autumn/winter shows marathon, shuttling from New York to London, and more precariously to Milan, where Giorgio Armani cancelled his show on the final day and cases of Covid-19 in the Lombardy region were rising rapidly. But in Paris, the final leg of fashion month, we were in a suspended state of decadence – going through the motions of attending shows, cocktail and dinner parties with a few scant masks floating around. By the time I finally returned to London, most of Europe had already gone into lockdown; still, fashion went on. The opening of a JW Anderson store in Soho marked the last time I got to hug friends in a crowded bar and wear a super-shiny dress out on a bustling street. We drank our cocktails like they would be the last enjoyed together in a long time. A week later, Boris Johnson gave his televised message for everyone: “Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”

The ways in which the fashion industry and my line of work operate fell like dominoes. The closing of borders everywhere meant that the fashion shows that were slated to happen in May, and the numerous press trips dotted throughout the year, couldn’t go ahead. The ban on gatherings of people put a stop to the industry dinners and parties. Factories all over had ceased production, creating ripples in supply chains which dovetailed with rapidly falling demand. Quite rightly, clothes shops were deemed “non-essential” and physical stores were shuttered. Fashion, with all its ephemerality and whimsy, predicated on people expressing themselves through what they wear in public, had rightly been condemned into a non-essential sin-bin.

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