Vilnius restaurants create fashion displays using social distancing mannequins

Restaurants in the Lithuanian capital have collaborated with local fashion designers and are displaying garments on mannequins seated at tables that must be kept empty due to social distancing requirements.

Like several countries around the world, Lithuania re-opened its bars, restaurants and cafés this week. Those that do welcome diners, however, must abide by strict social distancing laws, leaving some tables empty to keep customers away from one another.

The scheme, which is set to continue for the rest of the month, was devised by the owner of Cosy restaurant, Bernie Ter Braak, and fashion designer, Julija Janus.

Currently, around 36 restaurants and cafés, located in the Old Town Glass Quarter of the city, are participating. Over 60 mannequins have been placed in these establishments, showcasing garments from 19 boutiques.

There is information at each table as to where the clothes and other accessories, sported by the mannequins, can be purchased.

Lithuanian mannequin manufacturer IDW has agreed to provide all of the figures for free.

Restaurant owner Ter Braak commented: “Empty tables inside our restaurant look rather odd, and we don’t have any way to remove them. Therefore, we decided to reach out to our neighbours and fashion boutique stores, and invited them to use our empty tables to showcase their newest collections. The news spread, and well-known designers joined this project, which keeps gaining interest across the city.”

Designer Janus said that along with the hospitality industry, the fashion industry has been particularly affected by the Covid-19 lockdown.

She said: “Local boutiques used to sell the niche, original pieces created by local designers. As they are currently closed due to the quarantine, designers do not have many opportunities to showcase their latest collections, and in general, the consumption is down. We hope that this campaign will move the waters and local designers will gain some visibility.”

This isn’t the first unusual fashion initiative to grace the city during lockdown. Earlier this month, Janus also helped to lead a group of designers for the world’s first Mask Fashion Week, showcased on posters around the city. Vilnius has also opened a giant open-air café and an airport “drive-in cinema”.

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