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The Culture Shed: A closer look at NYFW's rumoured future venue

The Culture Shed: A closer look at NYFW's rumoured future venue

New York's new hub of the future

Following the recent news confirming the departure of its title sponsor, its all change at New York Fashion Week – join us as we take a closer look at the future and the speculated new location for the American fashion week...

Late last year, following a series of difficulties and a lawsuit, it was officially confirmed that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York (MBFW) would be leaving its Lincoln Center location for an "undisclosed Downtown location." Yesterday, the plot and the changes thickened – as its title sponsor, Mercedes-Benz announced that it would be exiting the fashion week following the February 2015 shows.

Suffice to say it is all change for the American fashion week, which has been dogged by criticism for some seasons now, with many comparing it to a "circus"  – and not in a good way.

So what does the future hold for the almost-homeless fashion week? Well, with yesterday's news came the indication that WME-IMG, which owns Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (now, soon-to-be simply 'NYFW'), is said to be closing negotiations to acquire rival organisation Made New York. What this will mean for both projects only time will tell, but whatever happens it may well be a rocky road to navigate, since Made New York operates as a non-profit, young talent support platform, and NYFW is very much a money-making machine – charging designers anything from $75,000 to $500,000 to host a show on schedule.

The industry's main quarrel with the American fashion week is its location and schedule. Many designers, including Vera Wang, Michael Kors and Diane von Furstenberg moved out of the tents to avoid the "circus" and hosted pop-up shows all around town in recent seasons. Last season, in September 2014, Spring Studios was a popular venue for designers with Kors, von Furstenberg, Calvin Klein and Jason Wu all showing there. However, editors, celebrities, influencers and buyers still found themselves traipsing all over New York to catch shows – as WWD put it: "from the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side to Chelsea, TriBeCa, SoHo, the Meatpacking District, the Garment Center, Murray Hill, Wall Street and even Brooklyn."

sources revealed that the new "undisclosed downtown location" for new york fashion week could well be the culture shed – a new arts center at hudson yards

Since the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) – spearheaded by CFDA president Diane Von Furstenberg – acquired the Fashion Calendar in the summer of 2014, there is a renewed hope that the shows will be less confusing, with minimal clashes and maximum organisation and streamlining. Von Furstenberg said at the time: "The Fashion Calendar has been one of the foundations of our industry, ensuring that the press, retailers and designers are able to come together in an efficient manner. Now that it is part of the CFDA, we are prepared and excited to take it into the new world." 

Following the January 5 2015 report of its title sponsor exiting, along with American Express (the latter of which, is effective immediately) sources revealed that the new "undisclosed Downtown venue" for NYFW could well be the Culture Shed – a new arts center at Hudson Yards. However, the impressive new project will not be ready until 2017, with some saying that is ambitious, and it will actually not complete until 2018, and until the speculated venue opens its doors, it is said that NYFW will continue to host shows in various locations to give designers options. 

A $360 million project – $266 million of which has already been raised – the Culture Shed will be situated in the performing arts venue of Hudson Yards, in the Far West Side of Manhattan. Architects Elizabeth Diller and David Rockwell are collaborating on the project, which has seen incredible city support (some $75 million) and influential supporters such as former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his deputy, Daniel L. Doctoroff and Diane Von Furstenberg

“This project can pretty much take anything that is thrown at it,” architect Diller said. “What does art look like in the future? We don’t know. All we can do is project a chunk of space and have an open infrastructure that can support it.”

Late November 2014, Alex Poots – the artistic director of the Manchester International Festival and of the Park Avenue Armory – was officially appointed the Culture Shed's new artistic director and chief executive. Poots will begin work on the project this coming September. “We were looking for someone who was really a cultural entrepreneur, an impresario,” Daniel Doctoroff, Culture Shed’s chairman said at the time. “We’re trying to do something that no one has ever done before — it’s a real start-up — and in Alex we have found that person.” The Brit will move from London across the pond this year with his wife and children to start his new role. 

“When I realized there was the potential for a new center for arts and culture in one of the most important cultural centers in the world, it just seemed like an incredible possibility,” Poots told the New York Times.

The ambitious project features an impressive retractable roof that can cover the plaza, and a 'shed', which will feature three galleries and a rooftop cafe. According to sources, it will also feature four runways, studios, exhibition space and a dramatic 140-foot-high canopy that slides along tracks to create indoor and outdoor spaces.

“This project can pretty much take anything that is thrown at it,” architect Diller said. “What does art look like in the future? We don’t know. All we can do is project a chunk of space and have an open infrastructure that can support it.”

Along with the speculation that the Culture Shed will host NYFW when it opens its doors in 2017/18, the space is said to also be possible anchor for the city's Tribeca Film Festival. 

New York's much-needed 'flexible space' will be a part of Related Companies' 28-acre Hudson Yards megaproject, and along with the Culture Shed, the new development will feature an impressive new Neiman Marcus flagship spanning 250,000 square foot, Time Warner Inc.'s new headquarters, iconic grocery superstore Fairway Market, the highest open air observation deck in NYC, luxurious apartments, and beautiful public parks. 

Take a closer look at the Culture Shed below and stay tuned for updates on New York Fashion Week as the story unfolds...

The Culture Shed

The Culture Shed

The Culture Shed

The Culture Shed