NEW SPACES EMERGING AS ALTERNATIVES TO CHELSEA PIERS

Byline: Eric Wilson / with contributions from Arthur Friedman and Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass confirmed Wednesday they will show their spring collections far away from 7th on Sixth Chelsea, and scheduling of fashion week became more problematic.
Two other organizers have cropped up, with some prominent designers in tow, offering alternative venues to the Chelsea Piers.
The New-York Historical Society — where Blass and de la Renta will show Nov. 6 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively — is courting designers, while Kevin Krier & Associates is brokering spaces in Chelsea buildings.
Adding to the crowded calendar, Rifat Ozbek, the London designer, said he will show in New York for the first time, after showing the last three years in Paris. He hopes to show Nov. 6, possibly at the piers.
So far, Pier 59 has about 25 shows booked, but not all with signed contracts. Fern Mallis, executive director of 7th on Sixth, said she’s trying to coordinate new venues into the show schedule, which runs Nov. 2-7.
“While we’re not producing the shows outside the Chelsea Piers, we want to help make it as easy as possible for the buyers and press who attend the shows,” Mallis said. “We’ll do what we can to provide transportation and some sponsor booths and any other help we can offer.”
Krier said he is negotiating with several companies — Carolina Herrera, Todd Oldham, Cynthia Rowley, Halston and Pamela Dennis — some of which have not shown in the centralized venue. They have toured industrial spaces around the Chelsea area.
Pnina Michaelson, director of special events at the Historical Society, said she is seeking designers to use the Dexter Gallery, a 123-by-26.5-foot space with 27-foot ceilings that can hold 500 to 600 people.
A spokeswoman for Ralph Lauren said the company has not decided where it will show and would not discuss what sites have been considered. However, Michaelson said Lauren representatives have toured the space.
Lauren traditionally shows on the Wednesday of fashion week at 11 a.m., and although the Historical Society has scheduled its annual fund-raiser that night, Michaelson said the building could accommodate Lauren.
Oscar de la Renta said he will show at the Historical Society because “I was not entirely happy with the space at the piers.”
“But I feel bad about it,” de la Renta said, referring to showing away from the centralized venue. “I hated those black tents. I thought they looked horrible, but I always showed there because I would have hated to inconvenience anybody else.”
Mary McFadden had reserved a time slot at the piers, but company officials began investigating the Historical Society after de la Renta and Blass expressed interest. Dede Shipman, president, will tour the gallery on Friday.
A spokesman for Herrera said that the designer has not made a decision, but the piers are definitely not an option. Herrera is considering the Historical Society and sites near the piers.
Badgley Mischka will stay at the piers. Executives at Donna Karan and Calvin Klein said the designers had not finalized their plans.

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