NEW YORK — The ever-earlier show dates have been a thorn in the side of many New York designers and now the Council of Fashion Designers of America is taking a more proactive role in the calendar to push back the dates in years to come.
On Friday, CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg reached out by e-mail to the president of the French Fashion Federation, Didier Grumbach, the head of the Italian Chamber of Fashion, Mario Boselli, and the chief executive of the British Fashion Council, Hilary Riva, to state the American plan for shows through 2010 and beyond.
The show dates, in recent years slated to start on the first Friday in February and September, had become a particularly pressing issue for New York designers, who struggled to get their collections together, particularly for an early September opening when Italian mills are closed in August.
Last January, von Furstenberg had held a mini summit with her European counterparts on the topic. At the time, the four executives agreed New York would be able to start its show week two days later in 2008 and four days later in 2009.
Von Furstenberg and CFDA executive director Steven Kolb spent the past two months reviewing dates with designers and other industry executives, and came up with their own proposal based on the agreement with the other fashion capitals.
Kolb said with the February shows, scheduled Feb. 1 to Feb. 8, coming up so soon, "It didn't make sense for us to take the two extra days. But for September 2008, considering how Labor Day falls on Sept. 1, there was an agreement to grab the two days off and start on Sunday, Sept. 7, through Sept. 14, as opposed to starting Friday, Sept. 5. Those two days would make a significant difference in terms of designers' ability to get ready."
For 2009, the CFDA plans to start the February shows four days later than usual, meaning they would kick off on Tuesday, Feb. 10, and run through Tuesday, Feb. 17.
However, with Labor Day on Sept. 7 that year, the CFDA is insisting on more than four days for the spring 2010 collection shows."If we had done it as we had in past, we would have started on Sept. 4," Kolb explained. "That would mean we would have shows over Labor Day, which is not possible, and the four-day-later start would take us to Sept. 8 [the day after Labor Day], which is obviously impossible. There needs to be some time after Labor Day, so we're saying we have to start on Sept. 11."
For 2010, the CFDA is hoping to permanently change the arrangement to kick off fashion week on the second Friday of every February and September.
"To avoid an early start, we should enact a rule that New York starts on the second Friday, and as the first city showing, everything should be scheduled after that," Kolb said. "It's far enough down the road that it shouldn't influence any commitments people have for 2008 and 2009. That to us is a really important step."
It remains to be seen whether the European counterparts will choose to comply with the CFDA's request. Kolb stressed there needs to be some type of set rule or communal process by which show dates should be set.
"We have to state what works for us and what's important for us, and if that creates a dialogue, then all the better," he said. "If people work together to set calendar dates, then we're all for that."
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