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Designers Brace for Major Blizzard

Winter Storm Nemo is expected to wreak some havoc over the weekend, but executives say they are plowing ahead with their fashion shows, no matter what.

NEW YORK — Even before it is in full take-off mode, New York Fashion Week has hit major turbulence.

This story first appeared in the February 8, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

What could be the first major blizzard of the season, cutely named Winter Storm Nemo, caused designers, buyers and fashion editors to scurry Thursday to make contingency plans if heavy snow does arrive. Then came the news that Marc Jacobs is shifting his Collection show from Monday at 8 p.m. to the end of the week, Thursday, at the same time. That could mean buyers and press who planned to leave town on Feb. 14 might have to delay their trips to London or beyond by a day.

The Jacobs show will remain at the New York Armory at 68 Lexington Avenue. Marc Jacobs International president Robert Duffy said that customs and deliveries delays forced the change, and not the impending blizzard. “We’re missing bags, shoes and two fabrics,” he told WWD Thursday afternoon.

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They don’t expect to get delivery until Monday. The time and date of the Marc by Marc Jacobs show has also been changed, to 8 p.m. Monday. The location has yet to be determined, however, because the Marc Jacobs set is already under construction at the Armory, so a new location must be found for Marc by Marc.

“Marc and I are extremely sorry for this inconvenience. We just want to have the best show possible and show all the product that our design team has been working on so hard for the last six months. We completely understand if people have to get on a plane to go to London. We’re not expecting people to change those plans or other plans just for us. We are live-streaming the show. Still, we recognize the significant inconvenience and are very sorry about the situation,” said Duffy.

Other designers were hoping they wouldn’t be impacted by the weather. According to the Weather Channel, the forecast in New York City calls for rain and snow Friday evening, with heavy snow late and gusty winds creating blizzard conditions. Eight to 12 inches of snow are expected to accumulate. For Saturday, more snow and winds are expected, with snow accumulations around 1 inch.

A spokeswoman for IMG, which owns Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, told WWD: “IMG Fashion is in constant contact with city officials, including the Mayor’s office, the NYPD, Council of Fashion Designers of America and the Department of Sanitation. We have a proactive plan in place to deal with the impending weather. That plan includes additional crews to help with snow, ice and salt maintenance, increased interior heating and a precautionary extra layer of tenting for the protection of the venue. This is not the first time Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week has experienced snow conditions, and our previous experience will help guide our rapid response to the current storm.

“As the safety of our guests is a primary concern, in the unlikely event weather prevents or delays any shows, we will work with the CFDA to communicate this message to their designers and constituents around the city.”

Some 530 flights into New York area airports (Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia) have been canceled for Friday and an additional 48 flights into the New York area have been canceled for Saturday, according to Flightaware.com. This will undoubtedly pose a problem for European and Asian showgoers — as well as those flying in from other parts of the U.S. — this weekend. The blizzardy conditions could also present serious challenges for showgoers coming from Long Island, New Jersey and Westchester.

Dana Schwartz, director of communications for Jill Stuart, said Thursday that they’re keeping a close eye on the weather. They are booking cars early for the staff and wrapping their clothing in two layers of plastic to prevent them from getting wet. She said she’s making sure that the hair, makeup and nail teams, as well as the producer and DJ, come 15 minutes before the call time. “We’re putting plans in place and we’re monitoring it like everyone else,” she said. Jill Stuart’s show is slated for 11 a.m. Saturday at The Stage at Lincoln Center. “Usually the snow melts quicker in Manhattan. Lincoln Center and IMG are so organized. They have such a huge support team there,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Prabal Gurung, who will show at noon Saturday at the St. John’s Center at 330 West St., said: “No matter what, we’ll be showing as planned. We haven’t really addressed it yet. Everything should go as planned,” she said.

Kate Spade plans a party to celebrate its 20th anniversary on Friday night at 548 West 22nd Street, starting at 9 p.m. According to the company, all systems are go.

“New York Fashion Week takes place every year at this time, and anyone who partakes in it is used to the unpredictable winter weather in February. The fashion crowd is far more resilient than people think — they see a snowstorm as the perfect opportunity to turn out their best winter looks with their boots and furs that they’ve been dying to wear all year. I can’t wait to see what people will show up in at our party tomorrow night,” said Deborah Lloyd, president and creative director of Kate Spade New York.

Bud Konheim, chief executive officer of Nicole Miller, didn’t seem too worried about the impending blizzard. Miller’s show is scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m. at The Studio at Lincoln Center.

“The thing is, the mentality around the show is like rocket science. Everyone is so focused on this thing. We all know about the snow coming, but the concentration level of the designers is so incredible, it boggles the mind. The snowstorm will be a big event, but an even bigger event is whether the button is right,” he said.

Konheim said people will get through it and will deal with it. The only problem he foresees is if Mayor Michael Bloomberg “tells everyone to stay home and closes down the subways and busses. Then you will have a problem.

“We really do adapt to things,” he said. “I was actually thinking of going out and buying a different jacket,” said Konheim.

A spokeswoman for Lacoste, which shows Saturday at 10 a.m. at The Theatre at Lincoln Center, noted, “As of now, we are moving ahead as planned and keeping an eye on the weather forecasts.” They expected to meet Thursday night to discuss a contingency plan.

Paul Wilmot, whose p.r. firm is handling Ruffian, whose show is at 9 a.m. on Saturday at The Studio at Lincoln Center, said: “There are no contingency plans. You tough it out. They don’t call them Ruffian for nothing.

“Snow shovels will be available and hot cider will be served,” said Wilmot. Worse comes to worst, they will take people from the audience to walk the runway. “We’ll press on regardless. In February, anything can happen. We’ll have a video of the show if people can’t get to the tents,” he said.

Lynn Tesoro, partner in HL Group, the p.r. firm, said she hasn’t received any formal cancellations for any of the shows she’s handling but noticed on Twitter that a lot of Canadian and French editors were scrambling to get new flights. “It’s going to be bad coming from New Jersey,” she said.