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Friday, December 8, 2023


‘Au Revoir, Bryant Park … Bonjour, Lincoln Center!’

| Courtesy of Jarrod Klawinsky

Those that condemn fashion have their reasons; at its worst, it is pretentious, objectifies beauty and, at times oblivious of reality. Fashion is the schizophrenic child of Pandora, and four times a year, it is destroyed and reinvented. Yet, it is at this time that the world sees the best of the fashion industry. It can produce some of the most dramatic and arrestingly beautiful creations ever seen — an art that is as refined as any Monet or Michaelangelo statue.

At the industry’s largest trade show, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, held in New York twice a year, the best and the worst is seen, and this year was no different. Industry insiders gathered Feb. 17 for the ribbon cutting ceremony at Bryant Park for the last time.

After a lengthy debate with designers and park management, the event that began at the park in 1993 will move away from the Garment District to Lincoln Center in September.

| Courtesy of Jarrod Klawinsky

In a tribute to almost two decades spent at the Tent’s, the entrance on 6th and 41th Street was covered with quotes from various designers, publicists and editors including that of Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue: “Bryant Park became the beacon of what New York fashion stands for – an industry that’s fearless, tireless and always moving forward.” The jury is still out on what this means for the industry that has been in a continuous state of decline for the past 18 months.

Nonetheless, designers are optimistic and have echoed that the move to Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center, will propel them into the 21st century.

Repeatedly criticized for their carefully organized guest lists and invitation-only affairs, the general theme of the Tents seemed to be “transparency” as a handful of designers live-streamed their shows on the Internet for the world to see. Twitter was a-tweet and bloggers sat front-row reporting live to the masses. But the mood was simple, a return to the roots instead of looking to the future or stepping outside of the box.

| Courtesy of Jarrod Klawinsky

Speaking of boxes, Marc Jacobs’ notoriously celebrity packed show was held literally in a cardboard box, no glitz or glam. The walls of the Lexington Avenue Armory were covered in cardboard, and Jacobs himself denied any and all celebrities from this season’s runway show. Colors were beige and neutral with few hints of color and simple American sportswear with his reimagined pea coats and A-line dresses.

This sentiment was also perpetuated at Calvin Klein. Creative Director Francisco Costa returned to the house’s minimalist basics focusing on textures and tailoring. Max Azria who designs for BCBG, Herve Leger and his eponymous label, Max Azria, normally uses his creative license to take his line whichever way he chooses. Yet, this season found Azria going back to basics, “(The recession) made us realists. It’s not about our fantasy it’s about our customer,” his wife Lubov Azria told Style.com.

While simple was key for some, the opposite was true for others. Fan favorites such as Project Runway’s fiercest son, Christian Siriano, was mature and dynamic, catering to the “ladies who lunch” with cocktail dresses and ball gowns.

As tradition has dictated for the past few years, Tommy Hilfiger closed Fashion Week, but also the era of almost two decades at Bryant Park. Taking to the microphone, Hilfiger bid adieu to Midtown. His collection titled “Preppy with a Pop” embodied the Upper East Side pedigree or, as the show notes described, a young Katherine Heburn.

As we say good bye to Bryant Park the fashion world also said good bye to the British designer Alexander McQueen, whose untimely death came on the first day of the shows. But as the saying goes, “the show must go on.” That it did and will with a new beginning at Lincoln Center in September.


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