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A New Stage for New York Fashion

With all due respect to Monsieur Proust, I am not entirely sure that the more things change the more they remain the same.

By Lynn Yaeger

With all due respect to Monsieur Proust, I am not entirely sure that the more things change the more they remain the same. This September, when Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week relocates from the tents in Bryant Park, its home since 1993, to the illustrious cultural campus of Lincoln Center, a lot of things are sure to be different—and I don’t just mean being able to nip into the Bryant Park Hotel for a between-shows-pick-me-up. (Will the Lobby Bar at the Empire be the new favorite watering hole?)

Seventy-odd shows are scheduled for the new locale—everyone from Diane Von Furstenberg to Carolina Herrera, Tory Burch to Michael Kors—and the whole week will be kicked off by a runway extravaganza which is open to the public (a portion of the ticket sales, which range from $25 to $400, benefits the New York City AIDS Fund) featuring over 150 models clad in mouth-watering ensembles from the fall collections (so you can buy them right now!)

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Director of Fashion at Lincoln Center, says that “Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is a chance for the trade to come together and celebrate, as well as critically examine, its artists’ latest work. There is no better place for that exercise than the newly remodeled Lincoln Center campus, already home to the city’s finest cultural organizations. Innovation is omnipresent this season…”

Which has me thinking—maybe the move to Lincoln Center from Bryant Park could be read as a symbolic shift in the way we increasingly think about fashion? The Bryant Park location, after all, was in the heart of the garment district and near the offices of all the major fashion magazines—the perfect spot to foster the commercial aspects of the industry.

But as the fashion-buying population grows more sophisticated, perhaps Lincoln Center, with its obvious affiliation with the arts, provides the perfect new home for the shows. Gilles Mendel, who in the past frequently presented his ethereal collections in Bryan Park, has personally straddled the intersection between high art and fashion. “Lincoln Center has become like a second home to me since I had the pleasure of designing costumes for the New York City ballet,” he says.  “I couldn’t be more excited to show my Spring 2011 collection at this fresh new venue in the epicenter of the arts.”

And Steve Birkhold, President & CEO of LaCoste USA, who formerly showed in Bryant Park (and was famous for giving out the best gift bags of the week, a tradition I sincerely hope will continue in the new address) concurs optimistically, “I am excited to see how the move will inspire designers to take it to the next level.  As a performing arts complex, Lincoln Center offers endless opportunities.”

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