he press has to be there, the stores have to be there. For business, retraction is not a strategy.”
Johan Lindeberg, creative director of the Stockholm-based contemporary brand J. Lindeberg, will stage his first runway show ever, nearly five years after the line’s introduction to the U.S. Lindeberg said his dream was always to show in Milan first, but after being in New York on Sept. 11, he said the strong emotional connection he felt toward the city made him want to show here instead. He said he thinks the New York shows will be quite symbolic.
“There has been a distance, and now we have a different perspective,” said Lindeberg, who will show at The Theater on Feb. 8. “It gets more intellectual, deeper. Everyone is working more with their collections.”
Meanwhile, Mallis said she does not anticipate the upcoming shows will be much different from shows of the past. “It will have the energy and pulse and excitement of a typical Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York,” she said. “The calendar will be full, and I think there will be a lot of scheduling conflicts.”
Fashion Calendar owner Ruth Finley, however, said scheduling has been relatively easy. “So far, everything is falling into place. I’ve worked personally with every designer and informed them if there were any conflicts,” she said.
Shuttles provided by 7th on Sixth will transport attendees between Bryant Park and the Puck Building, Mallis assured.
“We won’t have shows running back-to-back every hour,” she said. “We took the pulse of everybody, and given the economic and emotional climate, it was not appropriate and financially feasible to put up two more venues in Bryant Park. We are happy with the way the schedule is broken down.”
Designers such as Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan will hold smaller presentations in company-owned spaces. At Ralph Lauren, which plans for a small show at the corporate offices on Madison Avenue, the idea of an intimate gathering is what the company is sticking with for now, according to Alixe Boyer, director of women’s publicity. “[Ralph] prefers the intimacy of a small show that allows you to see the clothes more clearly and understand the workmanship and detailing. It’s how he started and what he has always believed in,” she said.
Though DKNY will show at Bryant Park, Donna Karan will present the Collection in its showroom at 550 Seventh Avenue.
“We’ve shown there before,” said Patti Cohen, executive vice president of global marketing and communications. “Donna prefers the collection in the showroom because it’s more about the clothes and being able to see the fabrics. It’s like someone coming into your home.”
Calvin Klein, who staged presentations in his showroom after Sept. 11, will return to Milk Studios in the meatpacking district. A spokesman at Calvin Klein said the show’s capacity will be the same as in previous years.
Shows not using the official 7th on Sixth locations pose even more scheduling glitches in an already tight calendar, Finley said. “As far as the other locations, they have always existed before and people will manage to get to them on their own. This has always been the case.”
Neiman Marcus senior vice president and fashion director Joan Kaner said the fact that shows will be spread all over town presents headaches and delays.
“I vehemently feel it’s a bad use of everyone’s time to send us scurrying all over town,” she said. “The problem is fighting traffic, getting from one place to another, waiting while all the models come from their last show. They’re late, and then we’re late, and it goes on and on and on. Days that are supposed to end at 9 p.m. end at 10:30 p.m.”
Betsey Johnson said the downbeat mood of the past should make designers work even harder to stage a more exciting presentation. Johnson will present her collection in her workroom space, with seating limited to about 80 and standing room for about 50 people.
“Business is tough,” she said. “The clothes must be great, or as great as you want to stay in business….I’m scaling down everything, but I’m not scaling down the energy, the beauty, the commitment to my collection. But I’ve got to watch my budget very closely on this show.”
For Michael Kors, mood also played a role in planning his show at The Gallery. “We really wanted this season to be more intimate, and ultimately, I’ve always loved the idea of a smaller presentation,” Kors said. “Each season, it’s important to look at the clothes and the mood in fashion and present the collection accordingly. Smaller shows feel right to me. For now, it’s certainly more about an intimate setting, not bells and whistles. The clothes should be able to speak for themselves.”
Nicole Miller chief executive officer Bud Konheim said intimate shows are a way to stay ahead of the game, citing a big show at Bryant Park as old news.
“We used to have big shows with 2,500 people, and it was all about air kissing and who was in the front row, and it became too predictable,” he said. “The second you keep doing something in fashion, you become predictable, and a synonym for predictable is ‘boring.”‘
Konheim also said that reducing the number of fashion shows and the hype surrounding them might help editors and buyers stay focused on trends and clothing.
“About two years ago, when Bryant Park was at its peak of about 120 shows, I ran into a fashion editor that looked like she had just finished her part in ‘Saving Private Ryan,”‘ he said.
The intimacy of the shows is what Harper’s Bazaar fashion director Mary Alice Stephenson found appealing.
“What we all responded to as editors was the lack of hype and [return] to fashion,” she said. “Sometimes, with all that hoopla around the fashion show, you miss the point — which was beautiful clothes. It will be interesting to see how designers will be showing their collections. That salon feeling was so prevalent in fashion’s history. “
Besides scheduling concerns, security was also a factor for the fall shows.
Though she assured security will be in full force, Mallis sniffed at the idea of airport-like security checks. “How many explosives can you put in Manolo Blahnik heels? We will do what we feel is appropriate, but if we tell everybody what security is in advance, it’s not often security. But it will be appropriate.”
Johnson said she doesn’t think security or fear of traveling will pose any problems for show attendance. “It’s budget,” she said. “Most people professionally have had to be on an a plane since Sept. 11.”
Police department lieutenant Elias Nikas confirmed there would be police presence at the shows, but said the department cannot discuss security issues prior to the actual events.