Ah, as Suzy Menkes recalls, for the New York shows of yore “in the crispness of October and the lovely beginning of spring.”
Instead, there’s a blizzard.
Scores of stores closed early Friday in the tri-state area due to Winter Storm Nemo even as designers and the fashion pack soldiered on through New York Fashion Week — although many European buyers and journalists, including Menkes herself, could not get to New York because of canceled flights. The clothes on the runway suddenly looked perfectly timely for the weather outside even as many fashion folk refused to give in and stuck to their vertiginous heels, short skirts and flowy dresses, snow and slush be damned.
None of the fashion shows were canceled or postponed as of press time Friday, with most designers due to show today saying they were sticking to the schedule. A spokeswoman for IMG, which owns Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, said Friday, “We have been in constant contact throughout the night and into this morning with city officials, including the Mayor’s office, the NYPD, Council of Fashion Designers of America, the Department of Sanitation and the Department of Buildings. As we stated yesterday, we have a proactive plan in place to deal with Nemo. That plan includes additional crews to help with snow, ice and salt maintenance, increased interior heating, among other precautions. We also have our tent architect and extra crews on site to help manage our structure during the storm.
“Based on the most current weather models available, it is becoming clear that most of the snow accumulation and high winds will occur late tonight and end by early tomorrow morning. Mass transit continues to operate normally in New York, and there have been no service changes announced as of yet. In consultation with the city and CFDA, as well as our other partners, we have decided not to close Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week early this evening. All planned shows will go on as scheduled. We will continue to monitor the storm, and make changes to the schedule if they are needed.”
A bigger problem occurred with the airlines, which canceled hundreds of flights to the New York area, disrupting travel plans. As of Friday afternoon, 1,059 flights arriving to New York area airports (Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia) were canceled, and 219 flights that were to arrive at New York area airports today were canceled, according to Flightaware.com.
Kerry Youmans, senior vice president of KCD, which is handling about 25 shows and presentations during New York Fashion Week, said there were a group of editors who arrived before the storm, and about an equal number of international editors who have had delayed flights. “Most appear to be making it here by [this] afternoon or evening. We’re aware that could change further. A lot of them have re-booked for Saturday flights, so we’ll see. We have only a handful of people who have flat-out canceled.”
Youmans said KCD would move ahead with a normal schedule for today and is monitoring the weather.
Men’s wear shows, such as Nautica, General Idea, Billy Reid and Tommy Hilfiger, all went off without a hitch on Friday. In women’s, shows such as Rebeccca Minkoff, Yigal Azrouël, Monika Chiang and Tocca, all scheduled for Friday afternoon, went on as planned, as did Nicole Miller. Designers that are showing today, such as Lacoste, Jill Stuart and Sun Jung Wan are all going ahead with their shows.
Paul Wilmot, whose p.r. firm is handling shows such as Ruffian, Christian Siriano and Nautica, said all the shows were going ahead as planned. “Christian welcomes the opportunity to show in the face of the storm,” said Wilmot. Siriano shows on today at 4 p.m.
Deborah Hughes, whose p.r. firm was working on several shows over the weekend such as Monika Chiang, Son Jung Wan and Catherine Malandrino, said, “We’ve had a few people say they aren’t coming, but all the shows are going forward. Everything’s moving along. People are arriving in high heels and have scarves over their heads,” said Hughes, who was stationed at the tents.
Libby Haan, whose firm Haan Projects is working on shows, such as Monique Lhuillier at 7 p.m., said, “All tent shows are moving forward.” She said a couple of editors from the U.K. had to cancel out of the Thakoon show on Sunday, but most of the European editors were already here.
Menkes, fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune, was slated to fly to New York Friday from London, but her flight was canceled. She is now slated to depart today, and “let’s just hope it takes off. It’s absolutely maddening in every way,” she said, adding, “I think they’re very lucky in New York this hasn’t happened” before since the shows leapfrogged to the front of the international calendar, putting the February shows in the path of potentially inclement weather.
“I’m still hoping to get to New York, although feeling increasingly worried about how to cross the Atlantic, with so many canceled flights,” said Justine Picardie, editor of British Harper’s Bazaar. “I’m just about to rush out to Uniqlo to buy a bundle of thermal vests and socks; but I’m wondering, should I be packing Wellington boots, rather than Manolos?”
Editors from Vogue and Tatler also were delayed Friday, but hope to arrive today.
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