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NEW YORK — As 7th on Sixth celebrates its 10th anniversary at the tents, an upstart in its second season is moving in, practically next door. Young designer venue MAO Space is relocating to the luxury high-rise building, Atlas New York, at 66 West 38th Street. It’s a distance that requires neither taxi hailing nor a change into more sensible footwear.
The move from last year’s spot at 5th Avenue and 29th Street is a last-minute change. Brothers Mauricio and Roger Padilha, owners of MAO PR, only inked the deal with the Gotham Organization, the building’s owner, in early August. It turns out to be a rare win-win situation. Editors, retailers and other show goers get the convenience and the cash-strapped designers get a bigger space at the same price of $7,500. (The least expensive venue at Bryant Park offers seating for 234 at a price of $16,500.)
The 14,000-square-foot space at the Atlas allows for a 90-foot runway and 400 seats, with 136 of them in the front row. Last season’s venue accommodated 320 with only 75 coveted front-row spots on a 60-foot runway.
Of course, nothing is ever perfect. So, while 7th on Sixth executive director Fern Mallis wished the Padilhas luck, she remained apprehensive about potentially overlapping time slots. “We’re always glad when things are as close to Bryant Park as possible,” she said. “But we have a very full house this year.”
At press time, not all the slots had been filled. The current confirmed schedule includes Esteban Cortazar, Gary Graham, Liz Collins, Michael & Hushi, Alireza, Y & Kei, ChanPaul, Charles Alexander, Heatherette, Zaldy, Venexiana, Ya-Ya, Rude Girl Rive Gauche, Slava and menswear designer Morgan d’Alessandro.
Gotham Organization also has signed on as a sponsor, joining Red Bull, Perrier, MAC Cosmetics, the nightclub, Crobar, and the Paramount Hotel. The hotel will offer a discount on rooms to out-of-town designers, in addition to hosting after parties for every designer.
The p.r. company also is getting into the publishing game with a program-cum-magazine called MAO Space Mag. They originally conceived of the idea to further knock down the cost. But what started out as a mere vehicle for advertising soon turned into a lively book packed with an impressive list of contributors, including Polly Mellen, Ruben Toledo, Valerie Steele, Amy Fine Collins, Constance White and Debbie Harry.
All the features are based loosely on the themes of young designers and getting started in the fashion business, with such pieces as an interview between supermodel Iman and African model Liya Kebede. The fashion crowd also can look forward to flipping through White’s report on the muses of new designers and Mellen’s rundown of the top 10 garments that changed fashion.
And Simon Doonan, one of the first to sign on, lends his wit to a story detailing the 10 commandments for young designers. “These days, I feel increasingly sorry for emerging designers,” he said of his choice to participate. “Everyone blows wind up their skirt and tells them how fab they are and then ignores them the next season. The reality is that Marc, Donna, Ralph, Tom, et alia are still the dominant names. It’s very hard to break in and become established.”
And although this is only the Padilhas’ second time around, they plan to keep going. “The ultimate goal for this is to offer it to designers for free,” Mauricio said, “and to keep it convenient for everyone to come and see their shows.”