NEW YORK — Ralph Lauren has broken the logjam.

The designer has moved his spring fashion showings to 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, a day later than he had originally planned. The move of the first major designer to the fourth official day of New York collections marks a significant development for the city’s fashion week, since most of the important shows had, until now, been crammed into a three-day window, instead of the usual five or six days.

Due to the unusual timing of the collections, with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Sept. 18, and end on Monday, Sept. 23, the typical placement of shows spaced throughout an ordinary Monday-to-Friday fashion week has been thrown into chaos this season. When Lauren, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan scheduled their shows on the first three days of the week, few other designers would consider showing after them because they feared they would get little coverage or attendance on a weekend.

Now that Lauren has moved to Saturday, following weeks of lobbying by Stan Herman, president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, other designers might more likely consider showing on the following Sunday, since few important editors or buyers would consider missing that show and would be less likely to leave New York for Milan so many days before the start of the Italian shows on Sept. 24. Some store buyers are rumored to be planning their departures on Sept. 22, which has dissuaded many designers from booking spaces that day.

Lauren, who is celebrating his 35th anniversary in business this year, now plans to show at 7 p.m. to stores and at 8 p.m. to the press on Saturday.

"We needed a great anchor toward the end of the week who will keep people here — and not just for the young designers," Herman said. "Ralph was the perfect person. He can be our hero and show an American solidarity in this way."

Lauren had originally scheduled a series of small shows at his headquarters on the morning of Sept. 20, at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. A spokeswoman for the designer said those spaces will no longer be used by Ralph Lauren.Several smaller designers had complained that the bigger players — also citing Donna Karan’s two collection shows and a DKNY show during the week — had hogged the prime time slots. About a dozen of them reacted by scheduling shows on Sept. 17, at the same time that shows were still going on in London. Organizers of fashion week in the U.K. had earlier voluntarily switched weeks with New York to kick off the season on Sept. 12, out of sensitivity to those who will be observing the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., but have recently expressed concerns about the turn of events causing the two weeks to overlap.

It could not be immediately learned at press time what would happen to Lauren’s original time slots on Sept. 20 or whether designers showing on Sept. 17 would reconsider their positions, given the developments. Executives at IMG and 7th on Sixth, which produces Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, were not available for comment.

Peter Arnold, executive director of the CFDA, which has been working with 7th on Sixth to coordinate the unusual season, said he was pleased with Lauren’s decision to move.

"It creates a much more robust week than we thought we were faced with," Arnold said. "That’s significant and praiseworthy. If more designers could follow suit, that would add to the breadth and scope of the week."

Lauren’s Saturday night show is currently scheduled to precede Miguel Adrover’s return to the runways at 9 p.m. That is also likely to be another important event for editors, considering the strength of Adrover’s earlier collections before his business was closed by its former backers, the Leiber Group, following his show a year ago.

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