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September 25, 2015 5:00 pm

Top Jewish Fashion Industry Figures Skip Milan Fashion Opening Over Conflict With Yom Kippur

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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Milan Fashion Week coincided with Yom Kippur this year. Photo: Twitter, Vogue.

Milan Fashion Week coincided with Yom Kippur this year. Photo: Milan Fashion Week.

A number of Jewish figures in the fashion industry opted out of the opening of Milan Fashion Week this year because it coincided with the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, The New York Times reported.

The holiest day on the Jewish calendar began Tuesday night at sundown and ended Wednesday night. The holiday forced some Jewish editors and retailers to give up their front row seats at Fashion Week, including Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes, Editor-in-Chief of InStyle magazine Ariel Foxman, and Jim Gold, the chief merchandising officer and president of Neiman Marcus.

“I absolutely feel conflicted as I will miss major collections,” Menkes said, adding that she would arrive in Milan on Thursday. ‘‘My work makes up an intrinsic part of my identity, but then so does my faith. I simply will not attend any shows on Yom Kippur.”

Other fashion industry heads made the decision to work on Yom Kippur, like Lisa Armstrong, the fashion director of The Daily Telegraph in London. She said she would attend shows but adhere to the fast on Yom Kippur. Cindi Leive, the editor of Glamour magazine, similarly decided to work on Yom Kippur after she missed shows in New York over Rosh Hashana.

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“I understand this is a nightmare for all involved,” Leive said. “My daughter is being bat mitzvahed later this year, and I feel more than ever that, as a mother, I should be leading my family by example.”

This is not the first time a major fashion event conflicted with a Jewish holiday. Yom Kippur has fallen during Milan and Paris fashion weeks in the past and Menkes pointed out that when the conflict arose in 2009, Milan “condensed” their shows to cater to Jewish attendees. Also earlier this month New York Fashion Week took place during Rosh Hashanah, which affected attendance at events like the Carolina Herrera and Tommy Hilfiger fashion shows.

Gucci and Alberta Ferretti, who held fashion shows on Wednesday in Milan, refused to individually comment on the decisions to let their events go on despite the Jewish holiday, according to The New York Times. They instead referred to a statement by the Italian fashion industry’s governing body, the Camera Nazionale della Moda, which addressed “the unfortunate overlapping.”

“We greatly respect and understand the importance of this day and are aware that observance of Yom Kippur will impact some in their ability to participate in events,” Carlo Capasa, president of the Camera Nazionale, said in a statement. He added that the back-to-back scheduling of the U.S. and European fashion weeks made it impossible to change the schedule of shows.

Capasa said he contacted colleagues in both the U.S. and Europe to find a solution so the conflict does not have again. He said, “I want to change the story for the future so the day is a free day for everyone, in whatever fashion week it falls.”

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  • Sherlock Holmes

    In every field where there are Jews we must make it politely clear that we cannot take part on our High Holy Days, whether it be the World Series or a major fashion week. Standard calendars and diaries should include dates of major Christian, Jewish and other religions’ major holy days. The Israeli govt is also sometimes at fault, as when an Israeli soccer team played a London team on Shabbos. Anglo-Jewry protested but the Israeli govt did nothing to protect the sanctity of Shabbos.

  • Leslie Benjamini

    It is not that difficult to look ahead on the calendar to plan an event that does not conflict with another important date. I am sure an event like this would not planned on Easter should it be at that time of year.

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