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Simon van Kempen: When the Somber and the Surreal Collide

Fashion Week on Sept. 11? Yes. I don’t think that commerce, the arts or anything else should stop entirely for a day. 

This past Sunday, not just New York, Shanksville, P.A. or Washington, D.C. but the entire U.S. and most of the rest of world commemorated and reflected on the tragic events of 10 years past.

In New York City, we experienced police checkpoint after police checkpoint as the NYPD ensured that any sort of attack would be foiled.

September 11th, 2011 was a different fall morning than 2001 in that clouds graced the sky, placing a shadow across New York City. In the lead-up to the 10th anniversary the city had been kicked back into high gear after the relative slowness of summer.

Schools had returned, everyone’s calendar was filling up and on top of that, the Spring/Summer 2012 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week kicked off with the enormously successful Fashion’s Night Out on September 8th. In NYC Fashion Week runs from September 8th to 15th before moving to London which starts on the 16th. Accordingly the schedule is crammed and I am sure that IMG, the organizers, considered that there’d be one day of shows the same day as the 9/11 anniversary.

That Sunday morning the first show started at 10:30 a.m. rather than the usual 9 a.m. but by afternoon the fashion shows were back in high gear. Alex and I spent the morning at home with our children and read them, as we do on each year on 9/11, Mordicai Gerstein’s “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers” and then later that afternoon we headed into Manhattan to attend three fashion shows.

Both Alex & I are active on Twitter and once it was known we were attending fashion shows on 9/11, I received some negative tweets. I won’t detail them here but I do understand that for different people their own way of remembering will be different.

It was immensely important to those who lost relatives and friends that awful day that we, the world, respected and commemorated their memories as well as those who’ve been affected since through wars in foreign lands and I think that was done and done well. But, I don’t think that commerce, the arts or anything else should stop entirely for a day.

It’s a cliché to say that "life must go on" but it must. And while reflection was proper, I for one didn’t see any disrespect from the fashion world on that day.