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Mannequins wearing the latest fashion help “social distancing” in Vilnius cafés and restaurants

In the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, bars, cafés and restaurants have teamed up with fashion designers, to showcase the latest styles on mannequins seated at tables which help maintain physical distancing rules
May 25, 2020/12.11

With an easing of restrictions in Lithuania as the country gets its COVID-19 infection rate down into the 10s and single digits, bars, cafés and restaurants are now open, but with customers expected to be seated indoors only. Some business owners in the capital, Vilnius, have had an ingenious idea: instead of removing tables to maintain distancing rules, why not put mannequins at the ones people cannot sit at, and clothe them with the latest fashions, to showcase what local boutiques offer?
   The idea has gained interest across Vilnius, after it began with Cosy restaurant owner Bernie Ter Braak and fashion designer Julija Janus. ‘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, 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.’
   Janus said, ‘The fashion industry is particularly affected by the lockdown. 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.’
   She adds, ‘Crises like this call for all of us to unite and help each other—together, we can achieve much more than being alone.’
   A few dozen cafés and restaurants in Vilnius’s Old Town Glass Quarter are participating, with over 60 mannequins seated at unused indoor tables wearing fashion items from 19 boutiques, showcasing the work of local fashion designers and brands. Each table has information about what the mannequins are wearing and where they can be purchased.
   IDW, a leading mannequin manufacturer, has supplied its wares for free for the collaborations, which are expected to end at the end of May.
   Earlier in May, Janus and other designers organized the world’s first Mask Fashion Week. Other initiatives in the city included a giant open-air café and an airport drive-in cinema.
   Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius said, ‘While the quarantine restricts us in many ways, I have always believed that it also gives us many opportunities, which we can use creatively to unveil the boundless charm of our city. This current initiative is a perfect match of communal spirit and creativity working side by side—and it also brings us some tangible material benefits.’

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Filed by Lucire staff

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