Fashion Week’s New Dates Cause Drama For Rosh Hashanah

From a fashion perspective, Rosh Hashanah isn’t a particularly exciting holiday. Having three parents as Rabbis (yes, my mother, my father, and stepfather are all Rabbis), I’ve sat through my fair share of long New Year’s services. While I take pride in my black demure outfits and stacked mary-janes (I wore a black double-breasted Nanette Lepore mini last year), despite my efforts to look temple-chic, it’s not what the holiday is about, or what my mind should be focused on.

According to WWD, however, Rosh Hashanah is getting a lot more fashionable this fall. No, we won’t be doing a best-dressed list of my favorite synagogue outfits — although, that doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

This year, the dates set by the CFDA for Fashion Week fall on the holiest dates on the Jewish calendar. Fashion Week is slated to run from September 9th-16th, while Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on the 7th and carries on for the following two days.

CFDA executive director Steven Kolb told WWD:

“We are most sensitive to it…We started on Thursday to accommodate London. We can’t go back any further and we can’t go earlier. There is nothing we can do, other than to let people know [Rosh Hashanah is] then, and to work around it by being utmost respectful to anybody that can’t show on that day. The way we see it is that if designers are not comfortable showing on those days, we can figure out a different [slot] for them.”

In a memo sent to designers by the CFDA, Kolb suggested alternatives to shows, for instance opting for a presentation which could occur more sporadically and away from the tents’ stringent schedule.

Yigal Azrouël, Max Azria, Alexandre Herchcovitch, Ralph Lauren, Kenneth Cole, Isaac Mizrahi, Zac Posen, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Alber Elbaz, Diane von Furstenberg…Some of today’s most important designers are Jewish. Do they go to synagogue on Rosh Hashanah? I’m not sure. And the truth is, it doesn’t really matter.

Here’s what matters: regardless of the the endless blogs and websites that cover every detail of every important show, there’s nothing like being at fashion week, sitting at a show, seeing a collection first hand. Will DVF not show because of the High Holidays? We doubt any major designer’s schedules will be affected. But it will deter some of the most important fashion editors from attending? Because that’s who fashion week is really all about. It’s about the editors that decide what will get pulled for shoots and which pieces will be featured prominently on the pages of fashion’s most important publications.

Yom Kippur, the holiday that directly follows Rosh Hashanah, asks the Jewish people to repent for their sins, to admit to themselves how they wronged during the year, and to swear to themselves and God that they won’t do it again. While Fashion Week isn’t falling on Yom Kippur, it is understood that Rosh Hashanah brings in the New Year, and allows you to prepare to repent. How am I supposed to prepare to repent when, while closing my eyes to recite the Shamah, I’m seeing Natalia Vodianova walking down a runway, or picturing what the coats at Ports look like? How am I supposed to simultaneously craft my resolutions for the year at a three-hour service and still be able to provide insightful commentary about the heel-height at Philip Lim’s show?

And then there’s the other side of the coin — the question I can’t help but ask: would the CFDA be scheduling Fashion Week on Easter?

Kolb told WWD, “We are letting people know that these are the challenges we face, and we’re on it to make sure we have a smooth, organized fashion week.”

Challenge is an understatement. For the Jews in the industry that will have to choose to either observe the holiest day of the year or attend the most important week in their fashion calendar, this is more than a challenge. Because the truth is that any religious Jew will not only not be able to attend those days of Fashion Week, but they won’t be able to purchase WWD to read about it — because you can’t spend money — or log onto their computers to see what their favorite fashion sites are saying about it — because you can’t use electricity.

And that doesn’t leave any of them much of an option.

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