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The Tents at Bryant Park, image courtesy Second City Style The Tents at Bryant Park, image courtesy Second City Style

News Fashion Weeks

S/S 2011 New York Fashion Week Preview

Donnerstag, Nov. 25, 2010, 14:33 / New York City, United States

It seems even fashion took a vacation this summer, as New York experienced some of the warmest months on record, and it was simply too hot to wear much of anything at all. But come September 9, the flip-flops and crop-tops will inevitably be replaced with mile-high stilettos (and a pair of Repettos) – as New York Fashion Week (officially Mercedes Benz Fashion Week) marks the beginning of the sartorial season ahead, and gives us the first peek at what we’ll all want to be wearing come Spring/Summer 2011.

But this season, in addition to revealing all the latest designer duds, NYFW also reveals itself anew, with several changes in store.

“Location, location, location” is often the key-phrase in this city where you’re only as good as your address – and indeed, for the first time in 17 years, NYFW is officially moving: from Bryant Park (on the cusp of the Garment District at 42nd Street and 6th Avenue), to Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center (62nd Street). Since ‘93, Bryant Park has played host to “The Tents” that house the runway shows, but after years of contractual bickering, IMG, who produces Fashion Week, was forced to look elsewhere. The move to Lincoln Center, New York’s most exclusive hub for the performing arts, has been marketed as a chance for Fashion Week to go bigger and better – an opportunity to kindle an association between fashion and the arts.

Indeed, the new digs do come with major improvements, most importantly – more space. Three different runway venues, with seating capacity ranging from 340-969, will be much better suited to accommodate the estimated 100,000 buyers, editors, and other fashion insiders who come through NYFW. Organizers have also upped the tech factor – WiFi access for all the bloggers (yes, sometimes us New Yorkers are a little late in the game) and an automated barcode check-in system will let guest gain access and receive seat-assignments. A potential time-saver or a disaster in disguise? Only time can tell.

70+ designers (Carolina Herrera, DvF, Michael Kors are scheduled to show at the new and improved tents this season – yet, even more designers will be showing off-site – reflecting a growing divide in NYFW. Over the past couple of years, the majority of young designers, and some more established names too (Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, have opted out of The Tents to have their own off-site show. A more personalized, and often less expensive alternative.

Last season, MILK studios, one of the city’s most sought after photo studios, paired up with cosmetics giant MAC to create MAC&Milk, a partnership that hosted a slew of hot-ticket shows (Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler and Preen. This season too, over 35 designers will show at Milk. What it all seems to indicate, is a growing divide between uptown and downtown, the old guard and the new. Mazdack Rassi, co-founder and creative director of MILK, sees it as a permanent, positive change: “With the move from Bryant Park to Lincoln Center, people seem re-energized about Fashion Week, and the lineup at MAC&Milk has increased too – I don’t believe there will ever be a reunification of designers under one roof – rather, uptown and downtown destinations with satellite shows happening all over the city. But that’s fashion and that’s what makes it so interesting.”

Making things even more interesting, this time around Fashion Week organizers are trying to make things a little more accessible to non-fashion-folk, and integrating the frenzy into the city itself. On September 10, Vogue and the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designer’s of America) once again sponsor Fashion’s Night Out, and today, in an official kick-off to the week, FNO puts on New York’s biggest ever public fashion show with over 200-models in the latest fall trends. Abe Gurko, the owner of ABE, an esteemed PR, production, and marketing company that has produced many a fashion show over the years, and is participates in planning Fashion’s Night Out, considers the increased attempts at accessibility a great sign: “I think the mood is very optimistic… the business is still very tenuous…but the energy around fashion week is very high. The unprecedented response to Fashion’s Night Out, which unofficially kicks off fashion week proves that there is a lot of great intention this season.”

Generally, it seems everyone’s in good spirits about the shows – but simultaneously, the whole Fashion Week “reinvention” seems a little confusing. The new tents are supposedly meant to encourage more designers to unite under one roof – yet, as the tents move even further uptown, it creates even greater physical distance from the ever-increasing downtown show scene, seemingly reinforcing that there’s a widening gap between the Fashion Week establishment, and the newer, younger MILK crowd.

Meanwhile, the tents are marketed as a symbol of fashion’s elite artistic status – as an improved, exclusive experience – yet organizers are also striving to encourage accessibility.

It feels a little contradictory, hinting that much like the fashion market as a whole, NYFW is in a state of flux – emerging cautiously, slightly disoriented from past seasons’ economic gloom and doom, not yet knowing which direction things will go – for better, for worse? To be determined.

Natalia Rachlin | TribaSpace

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