DUELING SHOWS

Byline: Eric Wilson

NEW YORK — Pick a show, any show.
Well, pretty much any show.
With this many to choose from — at least 125 in seven days at last count — even junior fashion editors are finding that when it comes to scoring show invitations this season, New York is a buyer’s market.
That’s because an unprecedented number of designers plan to show their collections here, thanks in part to New York’s move to the front of the fashion calendar, which began in earnest a year ago. So many designers applied to 7th on Sixth, aka General Motors Fashion Week, that at least a dozen had to be turned away, according to organizers. Many other fashion upstarts have scheduled events in independent venues on their own.
The result is that during several time slots, as many as three designers are slated to show concurrently. And while shows have historically taken place on the hour here, this season, there are shows on the half-hour and even at 7:45 p.m., as in the case of Anait Bian, who will show on Sept. 13 at 123 East 24th Street.
It used to make headlines when two companies attempted to show at the same time, as those designers would often bicker over who came first, but this season, such occasions seem like old news.
On one day, Sunday, Sept. 12 — which happens to be Rosh Hashanah — Gerald Tomez and Benjamin Cho will have a showdown at high noon, followed by a 3 p.m. standoff between Alireza and two designers who teamed up, Cesar Galindo and David Rodriguez. An hour later, Morteza Saifi will battle the Moet & Chandon designer collective for attendees, then Custo Barcelona and Mark Kroeker will face off with Diane by Diane Von Furstenberg at 5 p.m., and poor Mathew Nowomlynski is planning a show at the Chelsea Market at 7 p.m., a half-hour before the Versus By Versace extravaganza begins at Roseland.
And then the week really begins in earnest.
There’s a three-for-all on Sept. 15 at 1 p.m. among Joan Vass, Jackie Rogers and Joseph Israel, while eveningwear designer James Purcell, who is celebrating his 10th year in business, is competing that night at 9 p.m. against three big parties — the Barneys New York and Allure event for Polly Mellen on 61st Street, Nicole Farhi’s flagship launch party one block south and Francois Nars’s “X-Ray” photo exhibition and book party in Chelsea.
Even the requisite fashion-week parties and store openings are stacked back-to-back this season. On Sept. 14, for instance, there’s a dinner for Harper’s Bazaar editor Katherine Betts at Fressen coinciding with Visionaire’s opening for an exhibit of Mario Testino’s work at the Visionaire Gallery at 11 Mercer Street.
At least some designers who strayed outside the centralized Bryant Park venue were considerate enough to schedule their shows in close proximity to one another, as did Cynthia Rowley and Tommy Hilfiger, who will show at the New Yorker Hotel’s ballroom on 34th Street and Eighth Avenue and the Theatre at Madison Square Garden across the street, respectively.
Meanwhile, Vera Wang has changed the venue for her spring 2000 runway presentation on Sept. 17, showing for the first time outside of her Seventh Avenue showroom (which was beginning to get a little cramped). Wang will show at 3 p.m. that day at Cipriani 42nd Street, 110 East 42nd Street.
Others threw in the towel altogether. Charles Chang-Lima opted instead to create a portfolio that the designer plans to mail to editors later. Donna Haag, on the other hand, released her collection on a CD-ROM.
Of course, even though other designers face stiff competition to get top editors and buyers to attend their shows, there’s some hot-ticket entries on the calendar that still require some heavy p.r. petting on behalf of anyone below fashion director status: Helmut Lang and Alexander McQueen, who hadn’t disclosed the location of his Sept. 16 event as of press time. Sorry, gatecrashers, better to head to Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s Times Square fashion show on Sept. 13. It features millennium-inspired looks from at least 50 designers, including Lang, and it’s open to the public.