NEW YORK — As the final touches are being added to MAC & Milk, the new show venue at Milk Studios that kicks into high gear Thursday, the organizers are ready to claim their piece of the fashion week pie.

This story first appeared in the September 9, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Even though executives from MAC Cosmetics, Milk Studios and IMG Fashion, which organizes Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Bryant Park, have maintained there is no competition between the two venues, a new development is adding further fuel to the rumored fire: BMW, that other luxury German car maker, is partnering with MAC and Milk to provide a fleet of 12 MAC & Milk-decorated 750i series cars in sleek black sapphire to shuttle people between the Bryant Park tents and the venue.

“It’s funny how that happened,” John Demsey, group president of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., said with a smile on Tuesday, calling it “the final icing on the cake.”

The sponsored show venue at 450 West 15th Street has lined up 31 runway shows, presentations or events over the course of fashion week, with designers including Proenza Schouler, Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B., Behnaz Sarafpour, Altuzarra, Costello Tagliapietra, Threeasfour and Peter Som. Vena Cava will kick off the initiative Thursday.

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Beyond the shows, there will be several other events at the venue. Alexander Wang’s postshow party on Saturday will take place at the gas station and car wash owned by Milk Studios. A conceptual video installation of Gareth Pugh’s new collection will be installed at the studio’s loading dock on Sunday night, followed by an invitation-only dinner for Pugh and his friends at the Penthouse at Milk Studios.

Mazdack Rassi, founder and creative director of Milk Studios, explained “the educational outreach was very important.” To that end, Milk Studios worked with the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons the New School for Design to allow select students to attend some of the events over the course of fashion week. In addition, MAC & Milk will host a panel for students on the current state of fashion in these challenging times on Sept. 17. The panel will be hosted by Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune, and feature Demsey, Rassi, Parsons’ dean of fashion Simon Collins, Opening Ceremony co-owners Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, Alexander Wang, and Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler.

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