In 1993, Bryant Park was known more for drug dealers than fashion shows, and New York Fashion Week was a hodgepodge of venues spread around Manhattan and overcrowded Seventh Avenue showrooms never meant to hold a runway show.
Then the Council of Fashion Designers of America helped the industry say goodbye to falling ceilings (on Suzy Menkes’ head at a Michael Kors show), stampedes into fire-trap elevators (shows at 550 Seventh Avenue were infamous) and frantic cab rides all around town — events that for years marred fashion week.
The CFDA experimented with centralized shows at the Hotel Macklowe for two seasons, but that venue was too small for many designers.
Drawing inspiration from a huge tent show in Central Park during the Democratic National Convention in 1992, the CFDA set up tents in the park behind the New York Public Library, replete with a production company called 7th on Sixth, and transformed the twice-a-year events and the image of the park into a success story that typifies the city and Seventh Avenue. CFDA leaders defied critics and put New York on the map of fashion capitals as never before.
“I think it’s had an enormous impact,” said Fern Mallis, executive director of 7th on Sixth. “It changed the face of fashion in New York. It put American designers front and center by attracting hundreds of international press every season to cover the shows.”
Mallis acknowledged there were plenty of skeptics who questioned centralizing the shows and whether the industry would cooperate, about choosing Bryant Park as a venue and about the CFDA producing the shows. The CFDA has since sold 7th on Sixth to IMG, with Mallis going along with the production entity.
There was a disastrous one-season foray to the Chelsea Piers in 1997, which was decried for its poor location alongside the West Side Highway, but other than that, Bryant Park has become the hub of New York Fashion Week.
“I’m very proud about what we’ve accomplished,” Mallis said. “We’ve maintained a core of the industry at Bryant Park every season and it’s become an institution. But in this industry, you always run the risk of people getting bored, so we invite feedback from the designers and everyone involved in the shows…and work to keep things fresh and innovative.”
In honor the @CFDA’s announcement of @iamnaomicampbell receiving the Fashion Icon Award at the 2018 #CFDAAwards, which will take place on June 4, here’s a #tbt of the supermodel on @michaelkors’ runway in 1991. #wwdfashion #wwdarchive (📷: George Chinsee)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech during @sxsw for @createcultivate in partnership with @fossil. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.