New York Fashion Week AW14: Location, location, location
The great debate
New York Fashion Week is upon us for the Autumn/Winter 14 shows, and those who have been visiting the event consistently in recent years will have noticed that the Manhattan-based proceedings have been scattering further and further afield – ever since it's relocation from Bryant Park to the Lincoln Center in 2010.
Proceedings are still mainly contained within the confines of the island, and the 'official' shows that fall under Mercedes-Benz largely stay in the Lincoln Center tents, around 67 brands to be specific. However there are another 200 or more at venues spread throughout New York, including 28 at Made Fashion Week at Milk Studios, 450 West 15th Street.
When you take into account the labels that show 'off-schedule', plus throw in the odd presentation and, dare we say it, a cocktail party to finish off the day, a typical 12 hours spent at Fashion Week can now easily entail travelling to the Upper West Side, Chelsea, TriBeCa, SoHo, the Meatpacking District, the Garment Center, the Upper East Side, Murray Hill, Wall Street and even Brooklyn. It's quite impossible to really 'see it all'.
Donna Karan's 30th anniversary celebrations will be held on Wall Street and Spring Studios, a new event space approximately 30 minutes from Lincoln Center will host such shows as Diane von Furstenberg, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Theory and Altuzarra.
A typical day at NYFW via WWD
Acclaimed British journalist Suzy Menkes has spoken out on the topic; "It's really tragic, although that's an overused word, that those of us who come from outside of America, we don't just come to see the shows. We come to see New York, what's happening... everything. I actually don't want to spend my time on the West Side Highway. That's never been a good experience of mine, sitting in a taxi, having hysterics on the West Side Highway. I just don't get it."
Industry consultant and the originator of New York Fashion Week Fern Mallis has stated that this year is "a transitional" one, "I think it will be a very frustrating week for a lot of people. It's clear to me that centralisation is totally a concept that works when it works. It made a huge difference in this country and launched the careers of tons of designers and really put America and New York on the map. People will miss a lot of the convenience when they're going to be running all over the town," she said, finishing with "people should be praying that the weather is good."
Colleen Sherin, senior fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue adds, "I feel that it's no crazier than New York typically is" but that Manhattan is a very "compact island" compared with London, where it can take a good 45 minutes to get from the East End to the West End. However, in London they lay out their schedule and things rarely run late because they take into account the travel time and add a 15-minute 'buffer'.
London, Milan and Paris also have a stronger system in place to decide whether a designer should show at all. Chief executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Steven Kolb, defended the current situation and doesn't think it will be a hassle travelling all over the city. "I don't think this season will be that much different. It's New York City. You have to get in a subway, taxi or on a bicycle. You have to move around in the city, sometimes you'll have traffic. You might get stuck a little, but it's not different than any other city. It's the same as Paris, Milan and London. "It's an overblown issue. It's a week in February and September."
He also noted that the CFDA has become more involved in the scheduling of the fashion calendar. To make things more manageable, a database app for the industry has been created that will sort every show by such criteria as location, event type (show or presentation) and design category.
Kolb has also worked with 25 editors and buyers to come up with a soon to be released list of the 'Top 25' shows in New York City.