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  • Writer's pictureJason Simms

And, Now...Finally, About Those Social Distance Fashion Designs

On March 12th, 2020, I was sitting in the audience at Bristol Riverside Theatre watching the final preview for CABARET. CABARET opened the next evening only to be "postponed" due to the impending COVID-19 crisis. If you are familiar with the story of CABARET, you undoubtedly understand how this story is not only related to our current political discourse, but now also relates to everyday American lives.

I am sorry to say that I missed the opening night of CABARET. I was eager to get back home to Brooklyn while I watched the world around me changing faster than I could imagine. As theater productions all across the United States began to close, the designer in me had to believe there would be a way through this. I had to maintain some semblance of hope -- not just for myself, but for other storytellers as well.

It wasn't long until directives were given: maintain 6' of distance from each other, keep your hands to yourself, and wash your hands. This was long before masks were encouraged as the personal protective equipment shortage required all masks to be given to the essential health care workforce. I was curious, how could we still enjoy each other's company while maintaining Social Distance?

Within a week of being home from CABARET as the world around me in New York City went into "lockdown", "shelter-in-place" or "stay-at-home", something deep within my psyche demanded I not do nothing. So, I began creating Social Distance fashion designs.

These designs have such features as "Hands-To-Yourself Pockets", "Distance-Gauging Structured Garments", "Distance-Gauging Disc Ruffs", "Pantaloon Trunks", "Social Distance inflatable Cummerbunds" and "Social-Distance Veiled Hats".

As I was creating these fashions and posting them on Facebook and Instagram, I was delighted to see how many people were enjoying them. And while I don't imagine that these designs will ever become realized, I am happy that they did seem to bring some sense of comradery amongst my followers as we entered the COVID-19 life.

It was no surprise that the virtual fashion shows in spring and summer offered similar fashion ideas.

Working on these fashions, I couldn't help realize how a pandemic can not only change our world, but also calls us designers to action in creating solutions. Another pandemic inspired project I've been working on, The Hive, proposes a possibility of the future of theater-making and theater-going by reimagining theater spaces.

Wether for humor or for hope, please enjoy these eccentric looks. Who knows, maybe inflatable cummerbunds and wide-veiled virus resistant hats will be a part of our future.

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