With the start of New York Fashion Week less than a month away, the designer schedule appears to be falling into place.
There were numerous complaints last season that a circuslike atmosphere at Lincoln Center had pervaded the New York runway season, and several key designers, such as Michael Kors, Diane von Furstenberg and Vera Wang — stalwarts of the tents at Lincoln Center — have opted to show off-site this February.
IMG Fashion, which owns Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, said last month it was making some key structural changes to MBFW in New York to better control the event and crowds and make it more exclusive to fashion insiders. Among the steps it is taking are redesigning several on-site show venues, curating the guest list, lowering prices of some venues and significantly expanding its digital capabilities. IMG introduced the Pavilion, a new venue at Lincoln Center, as well as The Hub at Hudson, a flexible presentation space for emerging talent nearby at the Hudson Hotel at 356 West 58th Street.
On Wednesday, IMG Fashion released its preliminary schedule with approximately 86 shows. The list reveals the designers are spread out among Lincoln Center venues such as The Theatre, Pavilion, Salon and Hub, as well as several off-site locations. New to the tents at Lincoln Center is Zac Posen, who is showing in the Pavilion on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. Hugo Boss, a newcomer to MBFW, will show off-site at Skylight at 250 West 55th Street on Feb. 12 at 2 p.m.
Among the designers who plan to show at The Hub are Trina Turk, Rebecca Vallance, Daniel Vosovic, Charlotte Ronson, Koonhor, Iván Aguilar, Alon Livne and Cute Circuit. The Salon will have designers including Nicole Miller, Milly by Michelle Smith, Reem Acra, Carmen Marc Valvo, Nanette Lepore, Zang Toi, Jill Stuart and Betsey Johnson, while the Pavilion will feature designers such as Clover Canyon, Todd Snyder and Creatures of the Wind. Among the designers who will be showing in the Theatre at Lincoln Center are Anna Sui, Monique Lhuillier, Dennis Basso, Lacoste, BCBG Max Azria, Naeem Khan, Vivienne Tam, Kaufman Franco, Hervé Léger by Max Azria, Desigual and The Heart Truth, Red Dress Collection.
As for costs, the Hub is $15,000, compared with $18,000 for the Box last season. The Pavilion is $34,000, the same as the Studio last season. The Salon is $45,000, compared with $47,500 for the Stage last season, and the Theatre is $60,000, the same as last season.
But among the big-name designers, there continues to be a movement toward off-site venues.
While Carolina Herrera has decided to stay at the Theatre in Lincoln Center, von Furstenberg and Kors are headed downtown to Spring Studios at 50 Varick Street. (Kors hasn’t confirmed this location yet, but sources did.) Although they are not part of the MBFW schedule, Vera Wang will show at the Dia Center for the Arts in Chelsea on Feb. 11 at 11 a.m.; Oscar de la Renta will present his collection on Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at his showroom at 11 West 42nd Street, and Marc Jacobs will once again show at the 69th Regiment Armory on Feb. 13 at 8 p.m.
Other top designers who are part of MBFW but are showing off-site are Donna Karan, who is slated to show Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. at 23 Wall Street; Calvin Klein, who is showing on Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. at Spring Studios, and Ralph Lauren, who will show Feb. 13 at the St. John’s Center Studios at 560 Washington Street at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Tommy Hilfiger is also showing off-site at an undisclosed location on Feb. 10 at 11 a.m.
“It’s not really about the size and scale, it’s really about the quality of designers,” said Jarrad Clark, vice president and global creative director of IMG Fashion Events & Properties.
Elsewhere during the week, Made Fashion Week will stage 14 runway shows at Milk Studios, eight presentations at Milk Studios and seven presentations at The Standard at the High Line.
So what does this all mean?
For starters, MBFW-affiliated shows accounted for about a third of the 350 shows on the fashion calendar last season. So in addition to retailers and media running all over town to attend the shows, it’s clear that the idea of a centralized location to make fashion week more convenient is a thing of the past. Now that IMG Fashion has been sold to William Morris Endeavor and Silver Lake Partners, there’s bound to be a lot of soul-searching to figure out the best way to handle fashion week going forward, especially since the contract with Lincoln Center ends after the February 2015 (fall 2015) shows, and they will be in need of an interim home before the Culture Shed, which is expected to become the new home of New York Fashion Week, is completed at Hudson Yards sometime in 2017.