How to Avoid the Flu If You Work In the Fashion Industry

Today, the New York Times published what is maybe the most hilarious pre-Fashion Week story ever about something that isn't actually supposed to be that hilarious: The flu. Let's just say the fashion world's idea of flu prevention is a little different from the rest of the world's.
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Today, the New York Times published what is maybe the most hilarious pre-Fashion Week story ever about something that isn't actually supposed to be that hilarious: The flu. Let's just say the fashion world's idea of flu prevention is a little different from the rest of the world's.
BryanBoy in a bubble and Susie Bubble... get it?

BryanBoy in a bubble and Susie Bubble... get it?

Today, the New York Times published what is maybe the most hilarious pre-Fashion Week story ever about something that isn't actually supposed to be that hilarious: The flu.

Tim Murphy writes,

Stressed-out designers recoil in horror if someone coughs within earshot. Frail models shiver their way between fittings, terrified someone will spy their runny noses. And frenemies everywhere are reconsidering the wisdom of the double-cheek kiss, the standard greeting of the global fashion tribe.

The illness has been declared an epidemic in NYC and certain strains can be life-threatening. There's even a disgusting-sounding norovirus that causes projectile vomitting and sudden diarrhea. Not chic.

Now that New York Fashion Week--an event that has spawned the term "fashion flu" even when there isn't a flu epidemic--is almost here, fashion world paranoia is at an all-time high. And it's yielded some, um, creative flu prevention techniques. Let's just say the fashion world's idea of flu prevention is a little different from the rest of the world's. Our favorites from the article's sources like Mickey Boardman and Nina Garcia, plus some of our own, below:

Be less affectionate:

Air kissing seems safe for now.

“This will be the season where everyone in fashion becomes mysteriously nonaffectionate,” said Laura Brown, executive editor of Harper’s Bazaar. Staff members in her West 57th Street offices, she added, have been scouring doorknobs with sanitizing wipes. “We can give a nudge and a wink instead.”

Be extra discerning about whom you sit next to at shows:

“Fashion Week season is a nonstop assault on the immune system,” said Derek Blasberg, an editor at large for Harper’s Bazaar. “Early shows, late dinners, crammed into tents and airplanes: You don’t want to sit next to anyone coughing, because if you get sick, you’re screwed.”

(We wonder if coughers will be relegated to standing...)

Starve yourself:

Others follow variations of what could be called the standard fashion-world starvation diet, whether it’s drinking large quantities of SmartWater fortified with packets of the vitamin supplement Emergen-C, or force-feeding themselves nothing but raw greens, like koalas munching eucalyptus leaves.

Starve yourself with juice:

The designer Cynthia Rowley swears by Juice Press, the three-year-old Manhattan chain popular with fashion insiders for its 17-ounce $10 bottles of cold-pressed fruits and vegetables. “I’m addicted,” said Ms. Rowley.

Don't touch anything.

The stylist-turned-designer Rachel Zoe swears by airplane wipedowns. “I never touch doorknobs, wash my hands constantly, and I can’t pass a sanitizing dispenser without using it,” she said.

Make your sick employees work in a closet.

Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra, of the design team Costello Tagliapietra, said they knew of a top women’s wear designer who made a sniffling runway-show producer work alone all week in a closet. “She was humiliated,” Mr. Costello said of the producer, “but wasn’t going to let that get in the way of getting paid.”

Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

Put some Hermès in between yourself and the rest of your environment.

Nina Garcia, the creative director at Marie Claire, she said had been wearing a black Hermès cashmere scarf around her mouth everywhere this winter. “I try not to breathe anybody else’s air,” she said.

Stop being such an alcoholic:

“This year, I’m saying, ‘No, thank you,’ to the tempting myriad cocktail parties and openings and ‘No’ to the nightcaps,” said Linda Fargo, senior vice president of Bergdorf Goodman.

If you do get sick, keep it a secret:

“I’ve seen people faint,” said Simon Doonan, the creative ambassador for Barneys New York. “It’s never a good look."

Mr. Boardman of Paper recalled sitting in a Chanel show in Paris four years ago, suffering from a stomach bug. “Suddenly I had to violently go to the bathroom,” he said. “I could see the headline the next day: ‘Fashion Editor Messes Himself at Grand Palais.’ ”

Just stay home if you're sick:

“Stay home and watch the shows online," Mr. Doonan implored. “Thinking you need to be there even if you’re communicating the flu is demented.”

Seriously, though. It's just fashion week. Send your assistant. It will be fine. Otherwise, click through for some of our own creative solutions (with excellent photoshopping by Nora Crotty.)