Byline: Michael McNamara, with contributions from Joanna Bober

NEW YORK--While 12 corporate heavy-hitters are throwing support behind the overall 7th on Sixth spring collections, four others are using their muscle to give several young designers a chance to shine on the runways.
Cotton Incorporated, DuPont, Navy Fragrance by Cover Girl and Vidal Sassoon are all sponsoring fashion shows during the New York collections--either in the tents or in the New York Public Library, adjacent to Bryant Park.
Executives from firms sponsoring the shows said their support is paramount in giving the promising designers--many of whom who couldn't afford to produce their own shows--the opportunity to show their fashions in a setting that will attract scores of top manufacturers and retailers.
"Fashion is predicated on new ideas and young innovators," said Bill Daddi, Cotton Inc.'s director of public relations, who is responsible for the Cotton Inc. event. "But there's not enough cultivation of those designers who show potential."
At its show, Cotton Inc., the research and promotion arm of the 30,000 U.S. cotton growers, is featuring four designers of women's evening wear--Eric Gaskins, Sylvia Heisel, Sophia Tezel and Heidi Weisel. The presentation, which is costing Cotton Inc. about $100,000, is slated for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, in the Josephine Pavilion.
The upcoming show marks the second time Cotton Inc. has featured young designers. Last November, the firm sponsored a runway show of fashions from Stephen DiGeronimo, Michael Leva, Zang Toi and Sarah Phillips (see adjoining story).
"One reason we do this is to highlight cotton's involvement in the women's wear industry and to increase our presence in that market," said Daddi. "Secondly, as a company that specializes in marketing, we need to bring new concepts to the industry."
Daddi said Cotton Inc. looks at dozens of designers throughout the year, approaching those who have worked with cotton.
"We don't want to interfere with their creative direction," Daddi said, "but we also don't want someone to start using cotton just so they can get in the show. We want to work with people that believe in cotton."
DuPont, which is making its initial foray into 7th on Sixth, is the sole sponsor of one show and the co-sponsor of another. Last April, DuPont had a hand in the fall collections, when the Polyester Council, of which DuPont is a member, joined forces with the Next Generation to put on a runway show for five of its designers.
As part of its $10 million plus "Nothing Moves Like Lycra" campaign for its Lycra spandex, DuPont will present a show Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 1 p.m. in the Josephine Pavilion.
"The 7th on Sixth shows are the premiere fashion event in the U.S., and we have to be there," said a spokesman from DuPont Lycra, who declined to say how much money DuPont was spending on the show. Although the designers have not been chosen yet, a DuPont spokesman said the show will spotlight "about 15 designers--both young and established--and between 50 and 60 garments, all in ready-to-wear, and all classic to cutting-edge designs."
"[RTW] has been a well kept secret in terms of how much it is utilizing Lycra," the spokesman said, noting Lycra remains deep-rooted in the activewear and swimwear markets.
To spotlight another one of its apparel fibers, Micromattique, DuPont is teaming with the Next Generation--a coalition of young designers--to feature three of them at a show at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, in the Trustees room of the New York Public Library. The designers are Donna Haag, Anni Kuan and John Robert Miller. The cost of the show, to be split evenly among the three designers and DuPont, is $21,000. Another newcomer to the 7th on Sixth shows is Vidal Sassoon, which is winding up its $750,000 Sassoon Streetstyle Collection competition with a runway show at 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, in the Josephine Pavilion. The designers being featured are the winners chosen from about 250 contestants in fashion competitions held in four cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New York.
The winners to appear during 7th on Sixth are Tracy Kiyohara, from Los Angeles; Francine Brown, Chicago; Chris DeSimone, Miami, and Montgomery Harris, New York.
Models in the final Bryant Park presentation will sport new curvy, sculpted hairstyles meant to reflect what is happening "on the street." Each designer will show five outfits; the winner will receive $10,000 and a two-year hair design contract with Vidal Sassoon. Judging the competition will be: Vidal Sassoon; Evi Quaid, contributing editor for French Vogue; Nicole Miller, and Benny Linn, fashion director for Macy's East.
Navy Fragrance by Cover Girl, a division of Procter & Gamble, long a supporter of young designers, is sponsoring a runway show for the fifth year. This year's event, featuring Next Generation designers Donna Maione, Neil Biess and Michelle Bergeron, will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, in the Celeste Bartos Forum.

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