How 9/11 Changed the Fashion Industry Forever

A Zero + Maria Cornejo marriage ceremony costume with the World Commerce Heart within the distance, 1999.

Mark Borthwick

New York Trend Week Spring 2002—scheduled to run from Friday, September 7, via Friday, September 14, 2001—was a heady time within the metropolis. The MTV Video Music Awards had been held in New York on September 6, with Britney Spears and a snake serving as NYFW’s unofficial opening act. Simply three years earlier than, Helmut Lang had helped make New York one of many Massive 4 vogue capitals, alongside London, Milan, and Paris, when he introduced that he would present in September slightly than November, prompting the rescheduling of NYFW from final to first. The occasion grew to become a cultural magnet, with a cavalcade of designers, fashions, and celebrities and 1000’s of worldwide journalists flying in to cowl it.

Recent off his graffiti purse collaboration for Marc Jacobs’s Louis Vuitton, artist Stephen Sprouse had given NYFW’s most important venue, the tents at Bryant Park, a neon makeover for the Spring 2002 season. Greater than 40 collections, together with these from Diane von Furstenberg, Carolina Herrera, and Tommy Hilfiger, had proven by the point Jacobs launched his first perfume, Marc Jacobs Fragrance, with the blowout social gathering of the brand new century on the night of September 10.

Then the music stopped. On Tuesday, September 11, at 8:46a.m., a airplane crashed into the North Tower of the World Commerce Heart, adopted by a second airplane putting the South Tower 17 minutes later and a 3rd hitting the Pentagon, within the nation’s capital, throughout the hour. The world modified ceaselessly. And throughout the insular New York vogue sphere, the occasions helped provoke a brand new sense of group that may nonetheless be felt right this moment.

9/10/2001: Marc Jacobs Present

marc jacobsnew york spring 2002

Marc Jacobs at his Spring 2002 present.


IVAN BART, PRESIDENT OF IMG MODELS AND FASHION: September 10 was a really regular day of Trend Week: busy, hectic, loopy. The Marc Jacobs present on Pier 54 [over the Hudson River] that evening was wonderful.

JULIE MANNION, CHAIRMAN OF FASHION-SERVICES AGENCY KCD: The build-out took 10 days, and there was not a cloud within the sky. After which we bought to September 10 and so they’re predicting a hurricane. I’ve by no means seen a sky so low and ominous. It held out till 3:00 p.m., when the skies simply opened up. We had a transparent tent, and there was a ginormous bubble excessive filling with water. Grass we’d laid down on the pier was floating away. The present was imagined to be at 9:00 p.m., however it wasn’t till 10:00 p.m. that the rain lastly stopped and we had been capable of salvage issues.

I regarded up and noticed the towers and was like, “Look how lovely they appear.” It was simply this unbelievable second in vogue that felt potent and thrilling.
Ivan Bart

MICKEY BOARDMAN, PAPER MAGAZINE EDITOR AT LARGE: It was the final present earlier than September 11 and was type of just like the interval on the finish of what vogue had been as much as that point: over-the-top, cash’s no object, glamorous, celebrities, and all of that. It was like a film. Marc got here and took his bow, and the curtain opened, and we had been exterior on the pier. There was a tugboat capturing water with a hearth hose and the Twin Towers within the background. It couldn’t have been extra of a postcard New York beautiful second.

BART: Sofia Coppola was there, and Zoe Cassavetes. It was a starry, lovely, moonlit evening. I regarded up and noticed the towers and was like, “Look how lovely they appear.” It was simply this unbelievable second in vogue that felt potent and thrilling, and there was simply a lot hope.

9/11/2001: Bryant Park

FERN MALLIS, FASHION CONSULTANT AND CREATOR OF NEW YORK FASHION WEEK: September 11 was the fifth day of Trend Week, and I purposely was slightly late getting right down to Bryant Park [in Midtown] that morning. CNN was overlaying backstage on the reveals. Working on the tents, I by no means bought the prospect to catch any of it. So I used to be watching the 9:00 a.m. Liz Lange Maternity present on TV when there was a information flash saying {that a} airplane had crashed into the World Commerce Heart. I raced out of my condo on the Higher East Aspect to seize a cab, and after I bought to Park Avenue you could possibly see smoke filling the air downtown.

new york, ny     scenes outside of bryant park during new york fashion week on the morning of sept 11, 2001, shortly after the world trade center was attacked bill cunninghamthe new york times

The tents at Bryant Park, 9/11/2001.


LIZ LANGE, DESIGNER: This was my New York Trend Week debut. And it was really the first-ever maternity vogue present happening throughout New York Trend Week. So, I’m backstage watching, and I seen abruptly that CNN and Good Morning America go operating out. We had no thought what was happening. We completed the present, after which the safety guards began simply pushing individuals out of the tents. We walked exterior into this crush of individuals, and it was like we’d simply walked into a distinct world. I felt that individuals had been virtually zombielike.

ADAM LIPPES, DESIGNER: I used to be working at Oscar de la Renta as artistic director. Our present was scheduled for midday. The morning of a present, Oscar could be at our showroom two blocks away, and I might get to the tents early to get arrange. I had a digicam crew from the Type channel following me round, and the producer stated, “There’s been an accident and all crews want to go downtown.” We had hair assistants and fashions exhibiting up late; photographers and different press are leaving. I referred to as Oscar and stated, “There’s been a horrible accident and fashions are sobbing.” I used to be younger, and he had seen much more. He stated, “Oh, it’ll be high-quality. We’re going to proceed.”

model walks down runway in blue and green dress

Finale of the Liz Lange Maternity Spring 2002 present.


JIMMY PAUL, HAIRSTYLIST: There’s a very quick period of time to get fashions prepared for a present, and it’s extraordinarily aggravating, and adrenaline is at full blast. I used to be doing hair for Oscar, and certainly one of my staff members was late, and he began saying one thing like, “My telephone gained’t work. There’s one thing happening.” Then Liya Kebede is available in. And identical factor. She’s late. All I’m enthusiastic about is hair and the present. And he or she’s saying,“My telephone gained’t work. There’s one thing happening. One thing occurred.”

LIYA KEBEDE, MODEL: As I used to be paying for my cab, there was this lady in tears who was pleading with the motive force to please take her to Wall Road. Her telephone rang, and he or she’s like, “Is it you? Oh, my God, thanks!” I walked into the tents, and from there it’s form of a blur.

JAMES KALIARDOS, MAKEUP ARTIST: [Model] Audrey Marnay was in one other tent—they’re all related—filming a tv phase, and he or she saved operating over, feeding me information. “A airplane simply hit one of many Twin Towers.” “A airplane simply hit the opposite tower.” I bear in mind considering, What’s subsequent? If a terrorist was going to hit someplace in New York, they had been going to hit Instances Sq.. I advised my staff, “You guys, begin packing up. This isn’t secure to be right here.” At that second, Fern Mallis got here operating in, saying we needed to get out as quickly as we might.

MALLIS: I bear in mind standing on some platform or ladder and saying, “Everyone, I want your consideration: There was a terrorist assault on the World Commerce Heart.” Jaws had been dropping. And I continued,“Please collect your issues and go dwelling and be along with your family members. Go dwelling, safely and shortly. We’ve to vacate these premises.” I might barely get the phrases out. I used to be crying your entire time, and I nonetheless do each time I repeat that story.

KEBEDE: There was one other mannequin who had her daughter along with her and was anxious about how they had been going to get again to Brooklyn with the bridges closed. I lived uptown, so I stated, “Simply include me and keep.”

9/11/2001: Downtown

MICHAEL KORS, DESIGNER: My present was scheduled for the subsequent day. I used to be completed with most of my present prep and had just one becoming left to do, with mannequin Erin Wasson. I used to be operating late, so I bought out of the bathe and referred to as the workplace to allow them to know I’d be on my approach shortly. I used to be dwelling in Greenwich Village, in an condo with a terrace that confronted immediately onto the Twin Towers. As I used to be on the telephone, I noticed the primary airplane go into the primary tower. I instantly thought I’d witnessed an unimaginable accident. I used to be nonetheless on the telephone, making an attempt to grasp what had occurred, when the second airplane went into the second tower. In that second, I knew this was no accident however an act of terrorism. My telephone went lifeless, and I dropped to my knees watching the aftermath.

KAREN ELSON, MODEL: I used to be really very shut. I lived in TriBeCa proper by the Hudson River at Chambers Road. So I bear in mind listening to a really, very loud noise. My pal Maggie Rizer, who’s additionally a mannequin, referred to as me and stated, “A airplane’s simply flown into the World Commerce Heart.” After which we noticed the second airplane go in and really quickly realized, Okay, this can be a actually scary scenario. We had been all operating from this large ash cloud. I’d by no means earlier than had an expertise the place I assumed, My God, I might die. It was a stampede, and I fell down and lower my legs fairly a bit. There was a photographer who picked me up and put me on the again of his bike and rode me as much as Chelsea to a pal’s home.

MARIA CORNEJO, DESIGNER: I used to be dropping my daughter off at PS 41, on West eleventh Road. It was simply so surreal as a result of the sky was this beautiful blue, and there wasn’t a cloud to be seen, however there have been these items that regarded like sequins falling from the sky. They had been really particles from the explosions earlier than the towers got here down. It felt like we had been on the set of some bizarre catastrophe film.

My first runway present was imagined to be on Wednesday, and my husband was in Washington, D.C., engaged on the soundtrack with a musician pal. After I was lastly capable of get via to him, he advised me that the identical factor had occurred there. He usually jokes about issues, and I stated, “Oh, please don’t joke about it.” And he stated, “No, for actual, it’s occurred right here too.”

I’m the daughter of a girl who survived the Holocaust, so survival is one thing that’s in my genes. Your first intuition is to take your youngsters and shield them.
—Diane von Furstenberg—

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG, DESIGNER: On the time, my design studio was in a carriage home on West twelfth Road and I had an condo upstairs. I had had my vogue present on Sunday night, and Tuesday was the day I used to be to have my evaluate in The New York Instances, so I had woken up early to get the paper. That’s after I heard the information.

My son had simply had a child three weeks earlier than, and he got here to select me up and stated, “Let’s go to the nation.” You understand how individuals all the time ask you, “In the event you needed to depart dwelling in an emergency, what would you’re taking?” I noticed that I took nothing in addition to my drugs. We picked up my daughter at Gramercy Park, after which we went to get the newborn, who was uptown along with his mom and different grandmother. I’m the daughter of a girl who survived the Holocaust, so survival is one thing that’s in my genes. Your first intuition is to take your youngsters and shield them.

BART: After I walked into the IMG places of work at twenty third Road and Park Avenue that morning, the TV screens that we normally watched reveals on had been full of information. It was very clear there have been no vogue reveals occurring, so I had all of our fashions come into the workplace. Alek Wek was right here, and Guinevere van Seenus and Carolyn Murphy too. And on the finish of the day I made certain everybody bought dwelling secure. I used to be like, “Excuse me, the place do you reside once more?” to certainly one of our workers. “I reside on the Higher West Aspect.” “Nice. These 5 fashions additionally reside on the Higher West Aspect. I would like you to begin strolling north.” “The place do you reside? Queens? Nice. I would like you guys to go over the 59th Road Bridge collectively.”

9/12–15/2001: Restoration and Aid

VON FURSTENBERG: I misplaced my pal Berry Berenson, Marisa Berenson’s sister, within the first airplane. She was going from Boston to L.A. to go to her son, and that’s it. It touched everybody.

MALLIS: We posted an indication to say we’re shut down. In the event you weren’t a policeman or a fireman, you felt fairly ineffective. We had a billion instances of Evian for the week that we despatched right down to Floor Zero. And several other of our individuals who constructed the tents went down to assist arrange tenting. We had been simply making an attempt to make use of no matter sources we had to assist.

brooke bennett and kim dempster supporting fireman, police and american servicemen, following the september 11th attacks on the world trade center, in new york, sept 2001published in nyt 091601 sunday styles section

Indicators of help for frontline staff following the 9/11 assaults.


ALEXANDRE DE BETAK, FOUNDER OF FASHION PRODUCTION COMPANY BUREAU BETAK: We had rented the Lexington Avenue Armory for your entire week and had been remodeling the area for varied reveals. John Bartlett was over the weekend, and I’d completed an set up impressed by imprisonment. It was actually intense, and there have been these very loud sounds of jail doorways closing and the lights going on and off. Donna Karan was scheduled for Thursday, and we’d designed customized banquettes with lovely large spherical pillows for it. There have been tons of of them.

As a result of we had been on web site downtown with an enormous manufacturing staff, we instantly supplied to assist with rescue and restoration efforts. They referred to as us in first to assist remodel our fashion-show setup right into a area hospital. And really sadly, in the midst of 24 hours, no survivors had been introduced in. After which they requested us to show it right into a morgue. And no our bodies got here. Then lastly they requested us to show it right into a household heart, a spot the place individuals might convey one thing from their misplaced one to match the DNA.

MANNION: We bought a name from a metropolis official saying, “We see you’ve got this tent [from the Marc Jacobs show]. Can we confiscate it for triage?” So we’re clearing it out, after which I bear in mind getting a name later that afternoon: “By no means thoughts. We don’t want it anymore as a result of there are not any survivors.” You simply couldn’t even fathom.

NORMA KAMALI, DESIGNER: I went right down to the World Commerce Heart to volunteer, however there was no one to assist. I didn’t return to my enterprise on 56th Road for some time, and after I did I used to be shocked to seek out plenty of messages on the answering machine asking for sleeping-bag coats. September 11 was a sizzling day, and the very last thing I assumed anyone could be enthusiastic about was a heat winter coat. However flights had been canceled, and other people had been sleeping in resort lobbies, on the airport, at mates’, and so they actually wished sleeping-bag coats to sleep in. I introduced again my staff and the home manufacturing unit that I work with and went via all of our cloth and lower coats out of every little thing you may consider.

TOMMY HILFIGER, DESIGNER: I’ve been on the board of the CFDA for ceaselessly, and all of us got here collectively to lift cash for households and for the Twin Towers Fund. The recollections of patriotism are additionally very sturdy: Folks had been hanging American flags out of their home windows. We had been coming collectively as a nation and coming collectively as a metropolis and coming collectively as an business and coming collectively as individuals who had been going to rebuild and be sturdy it doesn’t matter what.

9/17–21/2001: New York Trend Week Half Two

LIPPES: We had been the primary present to occur once more, on September 17. Oscar was very very similar to, “The present should go on. These individuals can’t win.” We determined to point out within the showroom, with no music, no set, no something, out of respect. We put one flower on every chair. And everybody wore a black armband with an American flag.

alek walks down runway in white jacket and skirt with american flag on sleeve

Alek Wek within the Oscar de la Renta Spring 2002 present, 9/17/2001.


KORS: After plenty of deliberation, I made a decision that though it could now not be a large-scale vogue present, it was vital for me and for New York to current the gathering. So I did, albeit in a way more intimate approach, in my showroom on Seventh Avenue, roughly 10 days later. The gathering was initially meant to be very audacious and celebratory, so I edited issues accordingly.

DICK PAGE, MAKEUP ARTIST: The factor that basically struck me simply now was how quickly after we did these reveals. I did a Michael Kors present and a Donna Karan present on September 20. They had been small, and so they had been within the showroom, which is type of how I began doing reveals with Calvin Klein years in the past, within the early ’90s, in order that was fairly unusual.

In New York Metropolis, it’s all about actually elbowing your approach down the sidewalk, and these sorts of tragic moments present a distinct aspect, the place persons are linking arms.
—Derek Lam—

PIERRE ROUGIER, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF PUBLIC RELATIONS AND DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS AGENCY PR CONSULTING: We offered Narciso Rodriguez’s assortment in his showroom the minute it was applicable to take action. When adversity hits, America rallies in a short time. Many small vogue companies suffered significantly, and I believe from that got here a powerful urge to help new designers. There was this collective realization that younger, smaller corporations had been the material of American vogue. Maria Cornejo took half in certainly one of these business initiatives.

CORNEJO: There was a gaggle present organized at Carolina Herrera’s showroom on September 21 for 11 younger designers who missed their reveals that I used to be capable of be part of.

STEVEN KOLB, CEO OF THE CFDA: Mrs. Herrera opened up her showroom for designers to make use of as a substitute for what had been misplaced in any other case. And I believe one of many vital issues that got here from that was the Trend Fund. By placing a construction round younger expertise, we created a technology of American vogue designers that I believe has actually contributed to the worldwide vogue dialog. From Proenza Schouler, Rag & Bone, Altuzarra, and Rodarte to, in recent times, Pyer Moss, Christopher John Rogers, and Brother Vellies.

THAKOON PANICHGUL, DESIGNER: I used to be a vogue options editor at Bazaar on the time, and I felt this duty to essentially champion younger designers. Put up-tragedy, there was plenty of new vitality.

DEREK LAM, DESIGNER: I used to be undoubtedly a beneficiary of this sort of coming collectively. In New York Metropolis, it’s all about actually elbowing your approach down the sidewalk, and these sorts of tragic moments present a distinct aspect, the place persons are linking arms.

CORNEJO: When the chips are down, New York’s really a really small group.

mayor michael bloomberg cutting the ribbon to kick off the mercedes benz fashion week at bryant park in new york city fern mallis, tommy hilfiger and david schembri, vp of marketing for mercedes benz usa look on 282002 photo evan agostiniimagedirec

Michael Bloomberg on the ribbon-cutting ceremony to kick off NYFW Fall 2002, with Kors, Carolina Herrera, Mallis, and Hilfiger, 2/8/2002.



MALLIS: We kicked off the subsequent present season with a press convention on the steps at Bryant Park with Mayor Bloomberg. I bear in mind we had Tommy, Michael, Carolina—the entire designers had been there. We did a speech about New York being again and higher than ever.

ROUGIER: I believe what’s confirmed once more through the pandemic is how briskly America rebounds. The minute you inform individuals to go, they go. Quick.

KAMALI: There’s been an enormous demand for sleeping-bag coats once more throughout Covid. There’s a sure cocooning impact while you wrap your self in a blanket: You are feeling secure. And I believe the coat does that. Strolling round final winter, I seen lots of people carrying the coats for outside eating. I made a decision to promote them for half value in order that they’d be inexpensive to extra individuals. Eating places are the glue that holds our neighborhoods collectively, and we have to help them.

ralph lauren wears jeans and a sweater with the american flag while appearing on the runway

Ralph Lauren at his Spring 2002 present, 9/21/2001.


RALPH LAUREN, DESIGNER: 9/11 was such an overwhelmingly emotional expertise for everybody. It was one thing this nation had by no means skilled. The sense of terror and loss was unbelievable. However the days, months, and years following September 11 had been a reminder of how compassionate People and other people from all around the world might be towards each other. What we skilled was unreal, however optimism paired with braveness and compassion is how now we have been capable of get up, be sturdy, and develop as a nation and a world.

KORS: Trend persons are much more resilient than individuals give us credit score for and are all the time enthusiastic about transferring ahead. I discovered that form of can-do spirit through the AIDS epidemic of the ’80s and ’90s, after 9/11, and through the Covid-19 pandemic. And I proceed to really feel like that resilience is such a trademark of New Yorkers and vogue individuals all over the world. Some may name me a cockeyed optimist, however I like to consider myself as an optimistic realist.

This text initially appeared within the September 2021 situation of Harper’s BAZAAR, accessible on newsstands right this moment.


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