Say goodbye to Lincoln Center.
As New York Fashion Week ended and the tent was broken down Thursday night, the question on showgoers’ minds was: Where will the shows take place come September?
IMG’s contract with Lincoln Center expires after this round of shows, and sources indicated that the group is looking at three potential new locations. One is Skylight at Moynihan Station in the post office at 360 West 33rd Street; another is Skylight Clarkson Sq., a 70,000-square-foot ground-level space at 550 Washington Street in west SoHo (where Ralph Lauren has shown the last few seasons and where the men’s shows will take place July 13 to 16), and a third option would be erecting a tent on a pier in TriBeCa, according to sources.
A spokesman for IMG, which owns Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center, declined comment Thursday afternoon.
Sources indicated that while IMG has looked at several spaces, it has not finalized a deal for any specific location. A decision is expected imminently.
This season, 94 designers participated in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (including associate designers who showed off-site), and 76 presented in the Lincoln Center tents.
The New York fashion shows are expected to eventually move to the Culture Shed, which is part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project. While it has been widely reported that the completion date should be around 2017, informed sources indicated that date is now seen as unrealistic and it will take much longer to complete the site. Sources say the Culture Shed might not be finished until 2019 at the earliest.
One of the problems in selecting a new centralized location is that New York Fashion Week has splintered even more over the last few seasons as designers either got fed up with the commercial atmosphere at Lincoln Center or prepared for the shows eventually moving from that site. Some designers were never there to begin with, such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs. The result has been a fashion schedule that has been spread out all over town more than ever — from the tip of Manhattan to Brooklyn.
One popular show location has become Spring Studios at 50 Varick Street, where designers such as Michael Kors, Jason Wu, Altuzarra, Diane von Furstenberg and Calvin Klein have shown the last few seasons (and which, it just so happens, is near the new headquarters of Condé Nast). Designers have also showed at such diverse locations as Milk Studios, Pier 59 Studios, Industria Studio, Duggal Greenhouse (in Brooklyn), Park Avenue Armory, Lexington Avenue Armory, Highline Stages, Artbeam, Vanderbilt Hall, the IAC Building and the St. Regis hotel, to name just a few. Sources said many of these alternative venues are going to want commitments fairly soon, which could put a dent in IMG’s attempts to organize a centralized show venue.
Show buzz this week about the new location centered on Skylight at Moynihan Station, which is located in the historic James A. Farley Post Office at 360 West 33rd Street. It is an acclaimed McKim, Mead and White building and features a Beaux-Arts exterior and a dramatic industrial interior that at one point processed 90 percent of the mail in the U.S. According to its Web site, event spaces within Moynihan Station include the 41,000-square-foot former Mail Sorting Room, and the 33,000-square-foot Postal Dock. The site claims that the venue is “extremely production friendly.”
One of the problems with the West 33rd location between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, observers pointed out, is that traffic is a nightmare and drop-offs and pickups could prove difficult. No fashion designers showed there this season (there were other events going on), but in previous seasons, Prabal Gurung, Rag & Bone, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Theory have done so.
Officials at Moynihan Station didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.
The venue isn’t the only thing changing come September. As reported, the name of the entity, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, will change to New York Fashion Week, following the departure of Mercedes-Benz as the title sponsor after this season. Last month, it was reported that WME-IMG is in final negotiations to acquire Made Fashion Week, a rival entity that is owned by partners Mazdack Rassi, cofounder and creative director of Milk Studios; Jenné Lombardo, founder of The Terminal Presents, and Keith Baptista, partner and managing director at Prodject and partner at OBO Paris. The deal is expected to be in effect for the September shows, and the partners will continue as consultants. The Made shows take place at Milk Studios at 450 West 15th Street, which this season hosted approximately 35 presentations and runway shows.
IMG’s exit from Lincoln Center — where shows have been held since 2010 — was a long time coming. WWD reported in December 2013 that the shows would vacate the tents there when its contract expired after the February 2015 season. The departure was spurred by a lawsuit filed by community activists over whether the MBFW tents in Damrosch Park were a violation of the public-trust doctrine. Based on a settlement in December, the City of New York, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and Lincoln Center agreed not to renew their contract with IMG — a moot point since IMG already agreed not to stay.
Last year, the Council of Fashion Designers of America acquired the Fashion Calendar, a move that was aimed at streamlining the scheduling of fashion shows and events in New York, which has become a logistical challenge.
Meanwhile, it’s a sad time for all the security guards who worked at Lincoln Center and don’t know where their next job will be come September. “We’ll be taking down the tent starting tonight,” said Ty Yorio, who works for Citadel Security and has worked for the New York fashion shows for the past 23 years, starting in Bryant Park. “The vast majority of us come back every season, twice a year. We loved Lincoln Center.”