NEW YORK — Gertrude’s back, and so is Josephine.
Marking the 10th anniversary of New York’s centralized fashion shows, held almost consistently in tents built each season in Bryant Park, 7th on Sixth is planning several tie-ins to its decade of history, growing from an experimental response by the nonprofit Council of Fashion Designers of America to the untamed expanse of showroom presentations into a major marketing event for New York’s fashion industry, with corporate sponsors and corporate ownership, generating an estimated $253 million for the city’s economy each year.
As part of the commemorative spring 2004 season, scheduled for Sept. 12-19 and called “Tent’s Tenth,” the organization has redesigned its three venues, the largest two of which will be named after the original Gertrude and Josephine tents. Gertrude, named for the park’s statue of Gertrude Stein, will return as an all-black venue seating more than 700 and renting for $36,500. Josephine, referencing the Josephine Lowell Fountain centered on the Sixth Avenue side of the park, is all white with a U-shaped runway, room for more than 500 — with 200 front-row seats — and a cost of $26,500. A third venue, called Bryant, after the park, will have a white interior with black carpet, a raised runway, seats for 234 and a cost of $16,500.
“I’m very proud of reaching 10 years because we never knew if it was an idea that would really last,” said Fern Mallis, executive director of 7th on Sixth, who has overseen its management through an ill-fated season at Chelsea Piers, the demise of its men’s edition, a hurricane and 9/11. “It’s an accomplishment for the whole industry.”
The event will continue to be called Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, after the title sponsor signed in 2001, but will include two new sponsors, Olympus, the camera company, and Luxe Concierge, a high-end service for making reservations and obtaining tickets to events. Returning sponsors are Shu Uemura, Redken, W Hotels, Style Channel, Ortho Evra, Vogue, The New York Times and Silhouette Eyewear.
As part of its efforts to build on the prestige of the event since being acquired in 2001 by IMG, 7th on Sixth is also looking into other promotions for the 10th anniversary, such as related exhibitions and other sponsors that could launch their products before such a fashion-conscious audience. The organization will also continue to publish The Daily, its seasonal glossy coverage of the event, including an issue dedicated to the anniversary with 105 pages of advertising, Mallis said.