Armani holds Milan Fashion Week runway show from empty theater amid coronavirus outbreak

MILAN -- Faced with the spread of coronavirus and out of concerns for guests' health, fashion designer Giorgio Armani made a last-minute decision to stream his runway show from an empty theatre during Milan Fashion Week on Sunday.

Armani announced the runway show would be conducted in an empty showroom and streamed for the fashion public on the internet as a "preventative measure decided by Mr. Armani to support national efforts in safeguarding public health".

It was the first time the 45-year-old Milan fashion house has taken such a step out of public health concerns, although Armani did stage a show in an empty venue in Paris in 1998 after officials said the big tent posed a safety hazard.

The Armani models moved across a dark background, giving contrast to pink, teal and pearl gray pants and skirts, while black velvet jackets blended in with the dark background.

The show ended with what notes said was a "message of love for China", where the virus first broke out.

Models stopped along the runway while the 85-year-old Armani took a bow to the virtual audience.

Empty seats were visible behind him.

The Italian National Fashion Chamber said in a statement early Sunday that there were no indications from health officials that changes in the schedule were called for, adding that it was up to brands to decide if they would go ahead.

Among the nine shows scheduled, only Armani made changes.

Later on Sunday, Lombard officials closed theatres, cinemas and other places where people might crowd, for at least seven days, as confirmed cases in Italy jumped to at least 152.