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FOUL PLAY: When it comes to double-booking fashion shows, New York designers seem to bask in creating scheduling conflicts. There are already at least six time slots where more than one show will take place in the city during the Feb. 7-14 fashion shows. But where overlaps are normally planned between designers in different markets, this season, a couple of direct competitors are facing off over time.
Tracy Reese, who famously went head-to-head a few seasons back with Christina Perrin (and look where she is now), booked her 1 p.m. time slot on Feb. 10 with 7th on Sixth months ago, only to hear that direct competitor Jill Stuart decided this week to show at the same time in an off-site venue. “If you stake your claim and you’re confirmed, we should respect each other’s time slots,” Reese said. “But it’s not always that simple.”
Ron Curtis, president of Jill Stuart, responded that the company selected the time without consideration of other designers because it was the only time that would work for its show. “I’m a nice guy,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that our time is the same, but I don’t think it would make a difference. It’s a full schedule and I’m sorry.”
Fearing a loss of audience, Reese avoided the David complex and switched her slot to Feb. 9 at 10 a.m.
Meanwhile, Cynthia Rowley was miffed to learn that, for the second season in a row, Brit import Matthew Williamson has decided to square off with a show at the same time as her Feb. 12 off-site presentation at 9 p.m. “I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt,” she said. “Innocent until proven guilty.” A Williamson spokeswoman said it was a coincidence, but that the designer had committed to showing in a 7th on Sixth venue and was only offered two options of when to show, one of which would have meant he couldn’t book his preferred models.
Elsewhere in Rowley news, she has outfitted the dancers of “Frost Palace,” opening tonight at Lincoln Center and playing through the weekend. For the Hilary Easton choreographed production, loosely based upon Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen,” Rowley put together a look she called “Dr. Zhivago meets Mad Max meets Admiral Bird.” In other words, classic dance silhouettes with big tulle and full skirts that have been beaten up and then accented with chunks of fur, bones, crystals and a glittery spray glaze. “I’m way too much of a spaz to be a dancer,” Rowley said. “But this is a creative way to tell a story.”
EARLY BIRD: Surprise. The first couture show of the Paris season is today. But it’s in Milan, and it’s a small one, featuring only one model, Georgina Grenville, walking on a runway. There will be no editors and no retailers in the audience, only a video camera operator. What gives? It’s part of preparations for Donatella Versace’s still-life couture presentation in Paris on Monday afternoon, which will consist of 10 dresses mounted in an installation at the Versace boutique on Faubourg Saint-Honoré. The video will play behind each of the dresses, which will be displayed on special mannequins. A spokesman said the video is to showcase the volume and movement of the dresses — not to mention the Versace sizzle.
EVERYONE IN BELTS: The Disneyfication of Gap has begun. Paul Pressler, the new ceo of Gap who was chairman of Walt Disney Co.’s global theme park and resorts division, has instituted a new dress code for the 165,000 Gap retail employees worldwide. The sales staff can’t wear athletic shoes or flip-flops; any tops with shirt tails designed to be tucked in must be tucked in, and if a shirt is tucked in, the salesperson must wear a belt. A Gap spokeswoman confirmed that the changes took effect during the holiday season. There is no requirement to wear Gap clothes, but the clothes must be “Gap-like,” she said.
A walk around Gap’s 34th Street store in New York showed most of the salespeople adhering to the new rules; however, several were wearing black, rubber-soled athletic shoes, and a few shirts were hanging out.
“It’s the antithesis of a style company,” said one observer. “Cool kids don’t tuck their shirts in, and who owns a belt?”
So much for Gap’s “Individuals of Style” heritage.