When New York Fashion Week kicks off Thursday, more than a half-dozen boldface designers will be noticeably absent — and off showing their togs someplace else.
Tommy Hilfiger, who loaded 50 models onto his private jet for a show in Los Angeles on Wednesday, cited the need to stage a “disruptive” event in Venice Beach, where Lady Gaga was among the notables and Fergie performed. “LA is so full of pop stars, sports stars and influencers,” Hilfiger told The Post, noting that the Grammy Awards are happening there this weekend. “I wanted to be in the eye of that hurricane.”
Bolstering the case that New York has lost its “eye of the hurricane” status in fashion, Tom Ford, Rebecca Minkoff and Rachel Zoe are likewise taking their shows to LA this time. Meanwhile, Vera Wang, Proenza Schouler and Rodarte are among this season’s defectors to Paris.
For the past 24 years, New York Fashion Week has been an elite event for industry insiders, celebrities and other VIPs who go to be seen as much as to see. But the New York shows are undergoing a mid-life crisis now, rocked by big shifts in how consumers shop and questions about how accessible the shows should be to consumers. One of the biggest changes started last season, when a number of designers showed see-now, buy-now collections.
“At the end of the day, everything is a financial decision,” said Fashion Week founder Fern Mallis. “The industry is in flux and business is not fabulous for everyone, so maybe there are more changes this season.” Steven Kolb, the chief executive of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the nonprofit that controls the official calendar for New York Fashion Week, admitted that “a period of experimentation” has slammed the Big Apple’s semi-annual shows.
“The rules in the past have gone away and designers are trying something new,” Kolb said. Nevertheless, Kolb insists the high profile defections are “coincidental,” adding that “for every designer who leaves, a new one comes in.” This time, at least, the numbers don’t quite bear that out. There are 142 shows on the official calendar in February compared with 153 last September, according to the CFDA.
The last day of the show, Feb. 16, is typically capped by blockbuster shows, including Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. This year, it has just one big name — Marc Jacobs — as the other two fashion houses moved to other days. “Eight days has always been too long for editors and buyers to be away from the office,” said Kolb. “We have tried to condense the shows into a tighter period. It’s intentional on our part. The defections might be making that easier, too.
This time last year, Hilfiger took over the Park Avenue Armory and transformed it into a giant cruise ship. In September, a Hilfiger show commandeered the South Street Seaport, creating a carnival atmosphere replete with a 40-foot ferris wheel.New Yorkers looking for such theatrics this fall shouldn’t hold their breath. “We are thinking about taking our show on the road in the future,” Hilfiger said.