NEW YORK — Ralph Lauren certainly is ruffling a lot of feathers lately. First he launches a battle with his largest licensee, Jones Apparel Group, and now Lauren is fighting with Donna Karan and Calvin Klein.
This story first appeared in the February 10, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
No one’s yet declared an all-out fashion war (unfortunately). But tensions are certainly mounting between the trio, not to mention at least a dozen other designers, over an inordinate number of scheduling conflicts, bickering over models and general distrust over the motives behind last-minute calendar moves which have put the three majors on the same day.
Lauren has drawn the most fire over a decision late last week to move his fashion shows from Thursday morning to Friday, invading a territory previously held by Karan. He now will show at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. on Friday, while Karan, who originally was scheduled to show at 3 p.m., is pushing her show a half-hour later in order to have enough time to prep the models between shows.
More than half the models walking in Karan’s show are also in Lauren’s.
Spokeswomen for both companies declined to comment on the moves, but sources said Karan is fuming over Lauren’s Friday invasion, since she was not informed of the decision. Karan had originally booked the 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. time slots on Friday with plans to show separately to stores and the press. In the end she decided to do only one show in the later time slot since the Eyebeam space can accommodate a lot more guests than her old showroom.
The official explanation for Lauren’s switch was that, when Karan gave up the 1 p.m. slot, he simply moved to take advantage of an extra day’s preparation for his collection. Karan’s people allegedly were told that Lauren’s fabrics were delayed, necessitating the change.
And how did Klein get involved in the conflict? Well, Karan approached him to see if he would delay his show by an hour if she did the same. While supportive of her plight, Klein declined, the sources said, since he might lose a big portion of the British press, which generally dashes from his 6 p.m. show to hop on a plane and get back home to London’s fashion week starting Saturday. So Karan gave up and compromised with a 3:30 p.m. show, giving her an additional half hour to prepare.
No word on what this means for Joe Boxer or Imitation of Christ, which both have shows planned at 4 p.m.
The end result, as of press time, is that Lauren’s shows will be at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. Friday at 547 West 26th Street; Karan will now be at 3:30 p.m. at Eyebeam at 540 West 21st Street, and Klein stays put at 6 p.m. at Milk Studios at 450 West 15th Street. At least for now.