KLNY?

It’s not such a far-fetched concept, now that Karl Lagerfeld, having sold his trademarks to Tommy Hilfiger Corp., is hunting for design studios in the Meatpacking District and angling to bring his Lagerfeld Gallery collection to a Manhattan runway as soon as September.

“I like the idea of having a place in New York,” says the fast-talking, multitasking Parisian.

Lagerfeld isn’t the only one. A growing cadre of European designers not only find the fashion capital vibe-y and inspiring again, but view it as a land of opportunity to build their businesses.

“I always have good reasons to come to New York,” says Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquière, who brought his electrifying brand of experimental fashion to New York Fashion Week in 2002 and 2003. “I definitely feel again something very positive and constructive [in New York]. You can really make a new proposition. It’s definitely a place that welcomes new ideas.”

Although the designer has returned to the Paris runways, he shot his spring Balenciaga campaign in Manhattan, and is setting up a showroom and office above the flagship he opened in 2003 in gallery-studded West Chelsea. He also says he relishes the idea of returning to New York’s runways.

Why shouldn’t he? In the past few seasons, New York has seen its momentum gather pace again. The weak dollar against the euro or the pound makes the city a favorable travel destination for Europeans, and young design talent — from Proenza Schouler to Tuleh, Zac Posen and Behnaz Sarafpour — has captured the attention of the global press. The New York shows have also become a playground for celebrities, both in the front row and on the runway. This Friday, Jennifer Lopez is following the footsteps of her ex-boyfriend, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and staging a runway show. Beyoncé Knowles, who is launching The House of Deréon sportswear for fall, also has plans for a show during fashion week in September.

“There’s a new establishment that is rocking the fashion world here, and that hasn’t happened in a long time,” says Patrick Robinson, the New York designer who is presenting his first collection as creative director for Paco Rabanne in Paris this March. “New York has a young energy you don’t see in Milan.”

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