7TH ON SIXTH TO EXCISE SMALLEST TENTS IN PARK

Byline: Eric Wilson

NEW YORK — Changes are in store for the next round of 7th on Sixth fashion shows, including an alteration to its key venue for small designer presentations.
The organization is reconfiguring its locations for the spring shows, said Fern Mallis, executive director, and added that its plans still require the approval of Bryant Park management.
One of the key alterations would be to eliminate the “finger” tents — the long, narrow structures that have abutted the Sixth Avenue side of the park and housed its Avenue venue, where the smallest — and least expensive — 7th on Sixth shows take place, and its press room.
Some designers who have begun negotiating spring time slots and venues with the group said the move was being made to weed out relatively insignificant design houses from what is increasingly perceived as an overcrowded fashion calendar. One designer, who declined to be named, said he had been told by 7th on Sixth that the organization was changing the structure to bolster the status and prestige of its marquis shows.
Mallis denied the proposed changes were directed at cutting some smaller shows from the schedule and noted another venue would be added to the tents to replace the Avenue. However, she said it would probably be more expensive.
“We will still have four different spaces to accommodate shows of various size and scale,” Mallis said.
The plan is to create a space that incorporates less of the Bryant Park patio and ultimately makes walking between shows more convenient.
Seventh on Sixth added a fourth venue in the park during its February shows. Called the Studio, the midsized space seated about 690 and proved to be a popular rental among designers, although some audience members complained that since the space abutted the back of the Tent and Pavilion, with a separate entrance on 42nd Street, guests had to walk around the block between shows.
Mallis said the four venues would be accessible from a central lobby in the new plan.
Mallis said the changes were initiated to make it easier to attend shows, and she said 7th on Sixth had faced increasing demands from designers both here and from Europe for key time slots on the July calendar.
The number of shows and the length of show weeks in other fashion capitals have become a major point of contention among buyers and press in recent seasons.
In March, a group of fashion’s most powerful editors initiated a campaign to urge Milan and Paris designers to curtail their fashion weeks to only the most important houses.
New York’s show week has continued to grow. There have been roughly 100 shows scheduled in a 10-day period in each of the past two seasons.
The largest venues at 7th on Sixth typically rent for $25,000 to $32,500 per show, while midsized spaces like the Studio have been around $17,500. The Avenue, in comparison, has rented for $7,500 to $8,500.
“We are not trying to play God here,” she said. “That’s up to the press and the media to make any decisions about a designer.”