A Day When Fashion and Tragedy Continue to Intersect

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A Day When Fashion and Tragedy Continue to Intersect

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Sunday morning, officially the fourth day of New York Fashion Week and one scheduled with back-to-back shows from some of the best-known designers, started on a somber note. It was Sept. 11.

At the Victoria Beckham show — held downtown not far from where many, including two presidential candidates, were gathering at National September 11 Memorial & Museum — attendees observed the two moments of silence before the first model walked the runway.

It was part of a formal recognition of how, every year, Sept. 11 falls somewhere on the New York Fashion Week calendar and how, for 15 years, designers and attendees have struggled with how to mark that day in an appropriate way.

This year, for the first time, the Council of Fashion Designers of America blocked off the 9 a.m. time slot on the Fashion Calendar — roughly the time the planes hit the Twin Towers — in acknowledgment, and donated $15,000 to the Sept. 11 museum.

“We lived it, saw it, smelled it and refused to be defeated,” Diane von Furstenberg wrote in an email, referring to New Yorkers who were in the city on that day.

Ms. von Furstenberg, the chairwoman of the C.F.D.A. board, also noted the resilience: “We are not victims. We built a better building, an entire neighborhood. We are proud but we don’t forget. Living fully is the only way to honor those who perished on that terrible day 15 years ago.”

In fact, in 2001, the World Trade Center was hit by the terrorist attacks just as that day’s fashion shows were about to start in Bryant Park.

At the time, the tragedy was met with confusion and uncertainty.

“I remember thinking, ‘What’s happening with fashion week? Am I going to sneak in?’” said Humberto Leon, who had not yet founded Opening Ceremony and was still a fashion hopeful. “You just didn’t know what was happening. I remember saying to somebody, ‘No, nobody’s going to have their show.’”

Within hours, fashion week had been suspended, many shows canceled. Vogue and Carolina Herrera joined forces to offer some of the younger, fledgling brands the opportunity to show later, at Ms. Herrera’s showroom.

This year, throughout the day, front row chatter kept to the usual fashion week banter, about weather and logistics, but designers made acknowledgments in their show notes and programs, even if not aloud.

“We have to,” said Sander Lak, the designer of Sies Marjan. “We can’t deny the fact that this is the 15th anniversary.” He is a recent arrival to New York, unlike many others on the fashion week calendar who were living or working in the city in 2001. As a “new New Yorker,” he said, he wanted to pay tribute to the occasion but did not think the shows should have been paused for the day.

“I think you should continue,” he said. “We should celebrate life, and beauty hopefully — the joys of making things.”

Joseph Altuzarra, who had just come to the United States from Paris to attend Swarthmore College in the fall of 2001, said he felt conflicted at his show at 5 p.m.

“In a way, I think it’s a great message of rebuilding and going forward,” he said. “It’s also obviously a very sad day. It was really important for me in the program to address it. I feel dual emotions. It’s sort of how I felt when I was watching the ceremony this morning. It’s obviously incredibly sad, and there’s a sort of positivity also that you hear about rebuilding.”

That message was echoed by Mr. Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony, who closed the day with an 8 p.m. show that was also a political pageant, urging action and optimism.

“We were actually excited,” Mr. Leon said of the overlap. “It made sense. We’re doing a very celebratory act to commemorate it.”

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