By  on September 8, 2011

NEW YORK — Made, the new name for the MAC & Milk fashionshows, has entered its fifth season with a full slate of events, fashionshows and presentations, as well as a host of big-name sponsors.

In addition to a redesigned Web site, milkmade.com, which launchedThursday, there are new partnerships with Lexus, American Express and LGElectronics Mobile Communications Co., and representation by Hollywoodpowerhouse Creative Artists Agency. Other sponsors include Aldo, BlueBottle Coffee, Kanon Organic Vodka, Leica Camera,Livestream, TheStandard New York, True Religion Apparel Inc. and Vimeo.

In aninterview at Milk Studios with Made co-directors Mazdack Rassi,co-founder and creative director of Milk Studios; Jenné Lombardo, globalfashion director of W Hotels, and Keith Baptista, senior vicepresident, production at KCD, the executives spoke about Made’s missionand what they hope to accomplish with the added support. “It’sphysically no different. We’re pretty much on autopilot,” said Rassi.While MAC Cosmetics remains the exclusive makeup sponsor and “is stillan important part of the program,” Made has broadened its reach to newpartners to build on the program and ensure its longevity.

“Weneed to evolve this into a more substantial program. We dissolved theMilk & Mac name,” said Baptista. Asked why they chose the name Made,Rassi said they were looking for a name with movement. “Made hadmotion, and it represented us,” he said.

Throughout the week,some 40 fashion shows and presentations will take place at Milk Studiosand The Standard hotel. Fourteen will be runway shows and 27 arepresentations. In addition, Made Fashion Week will highlight events suchas a Larry Clark photo exhibition; the Alexander Wang after party, anda panel discussion on “Technology — How Fashion Communicates.” TheIndependent Fashion Blogger Conference, which took place Wednesday, wasalso part of Made Fashion Week. All this activity is intended to expandMade into a year-round platform for emerging design talent, as well asother innovators.

In a telephone interview from Los Angeles,Mitch Grossbach, an executive at CAA, said he’s been working with Madefor the past several months. CAA plans to connect these designers withbrands and media. He said Made would continue to focus on the creativeend of things, while CAA would augment that with bringing third-partybrand opportunities and media to the table. These would be in the worldsof digital, television and social media. “Our focus is to help the Madeplatform grow as a property. It’s not as much about individualdesigners, but more about the Milk and Made team and creating long-termstrategic and meaningful opportunities,” said Grossbach.

He saidCAA has a wealth of blue-chip brands, and relationships with executivevice presidents and chief marketing officers who are looking forintegrative opportunities. “They come to CAA and ask us to introduce usto those opportunities. Milk is a 365-day functioning business. There’s aton of activity that happens all year. It makes for fantastic contentthat can occur all year long. We’ll be bringing those executives to theproperty over the next few weeks,” he said.

By expanding itsreach, Made will work with its sponsors provide opportunities to thedesign community on a year-round basis. “It’s not a sponsorship. It’s apartnership. It’s really about, ‘How do you get involved to benefit thefashion community?’” said Baptista. To be sure, certain amenities areslated exclusively for fashion week. For example, Lexus will have afleet of 10 cars for showgoers to go uptown. They will also have aspecial concierge number that VIPs can call for rides. LG, the mobilephone company, sponsored the fashion and technology panel, and AmericanExpress offers show tickets to key customers.

It’s all gettingto sound very much like Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center,owned by IMG, but the Made officials insist there’s no rivalry.

“One of the things people don’t realize is there’s no cost for thespace,” said Rassi. Generally, a fashion show could cost a designeranywhere from $75,000 to $500,000 and upwards, said Baptista. At Made,the space is provided for free, as well as the makeup, seating, lightingand sound. The only expenses for the designer are a music person,models, a hair person and collection-related expenses. “Still a lot ofpeople don’t know that this program is an incredible launch pad to helpthose designers,” said Rassi. “There’s this whole idea out there thatperhaps there’s a competition between uptown and downtown. There isnone. We don’t compete with each other. We’re a completely differentidea.”

Asked if Made Fashion Week makes money, Rassi said thatall the money from sponsorships is poured back into the designers andthe program. “We’ve never been a for-profit model,” said Rassi. Whileit’s a much more expensive proposition uptown, IMG wouldn’t be in thefashion-show business if it wasn’t making money, said sources.

The Made principals said they would like to take Made Fashion Week toParisand tap into the emerging design community there.

Lombardo said Made Fashion Week had implications beyond the walls ofMilk Studios, impacting local businesses and instituting an educationaloutreach program. Students from Parsons The New School for Design workbehind-the-scenes at the fashion shows and presentations. Shows areLivestreamed on milkmade.com. This season, accessories and men’s wearwill also be getting a bigger play at Made, said Lombardo.

“Weused to be a photography studio,” said Rassi. “Today it’s more of amedia company that has space. It’s really about content and creativity.That’s what Milk does every day.”

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