End of the catwalk: New York Fashion Week changes venue

New York Fashion Week is flouncing out of Bryant Park, its home for 15 years. David Usborne reports on the show that went a frock too far

Neighbours of Bryant Park have been tut-tutting this week as workmen and small cranes have once more invaded the usually tranquil handkerchief of green – or snow-covered white right now – behind the New York Public Library in advance of the latest installment of New York Fashion Week.

The eruptions in February and September on its main lawn of the big white tents that hold the three catwalks, countless changing rooms for the models and space to seat thousands on little white chairs, is part of what has given Bryant Park, until the late 1980s a dusty hang-out for dope-dealers and the homeless, some of its cachet. That and its parades of 200 plane trees and well-tended gravel paths.

But the park, it turns out, is over Armani and Hilfiger. In fact, though we only learnt it this week, its managers have been pressing for years for the eviction of the fashion festivities from its manicured boundaries. While there was resistance from some, including from the indomitable Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue whose offices overlook the park, a below-the-radar search was soon on to find a new place to accommodate the tents.

It fell to the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, to break the news. Fashion Week, which first settled at Bryant Park in 1993, will be moving itself lock, stock and camera-lens barrel to a somewhat unloved space behind Lincoln Centre, the hub of Manhattan's most prestigious cultural institutions, including the opera and the ballet. The plaza in question is called Damrosch Park. Not heard of it? Nor had most Manhattanites before now.

Reaction has ranged from horror to ho-hum, with some expressions of delight in between. Certainly, the Bryant Park Corporation is voicing satisfaction, noting that it could no longer allow the shows "because they were interfering with plans to operate a skating rink in the winter and public use of the main lawn in the late summer". Though the shows last barely seven days, the whole business of building and dismantling the tents lasts three weeks.

The move up to Lincoln Centre will not happen until September 2010, meaning that there will be three more Fashion Weeks at Bryant Park, including this month's, which begins at the end of next week.

Most urgent for Mr Bloomberg was stopping Fashion Week, which is run by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and IMG Fashion, leaving town altogether. Last year, the two events drew 232,000 attendees and generated $466m (£323m) in spending. "We worked hard to find a new location because there had been increasing pressure for the events to move to Los Angeles. That would be a real hit to our economy," he said.

"It has not been easy to find a place for us, a place that was big enough, that was centralised enough, that was right enough," added the designer and CFDA president, Diane von Furstenberg, confirming the choice of Damrosch Park. "Since we're starting afresh we will try to make them better than the previous one."

There are some good things about the new location at Lincoln Centre, including a promise of 25 per cent more space. Bryant Park, which is flanked on one side by 42nd Street, has, for years, really been too tight a venue, which explains why increasing numbers of designers, including Tommy Hilfiger and Donna Karan, have, in recent years, eschewed the tents altogether and shown elsewhere in the city. Whereas there used to be 35 shows in the park during each Fashion Week, these days the number has risen to almost 70.

The advantage of the park, however, is its proximity to the Garment District along 7th and 8th avenues below 42nd Street. As anyone based in the area with tell you, the streets leading from the district to the gleaming tents dissolve into mild and colourful chaos during Fashion Week as harried assistants rush about with their rolling racks of safety-pinned clothes. There are about 800 fashion companies based in New York, many concentrated in the same few blocks.

"There are pros and cons," Victorya Hong, a rising New York designer recently showcased in the reality television show Project Runway, said of the move. "The garment district is so congested and hard to move around, but on the other hand everyone is down there. But I think Lincoln Centre will have a more luxurious vibe."

Most importantly, approval has been expressed by Ms Wintour. "We had obviously worn out our welcome at Bryant Park, so it's very exciting to be going to someplace where they want us," she told Women's Wear Daily magazine. But the switch from Bryant to Damrosch is not sitting well with all the designers.

"I hate the idea," said Anna Sui. "One of the things that works with Bryant Park is that we can walk the clothes over there, and finish the clothes as we're setting up. That's the only way you can have everything finished. All of a sudden, a zipper broke, a button didn't come in, and all the last-minute details are still do-able. Somebody can walk in with the last dress before the first exit. I don't think we will have that luxury at Lincoln Centre."

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas


...and the perfect time to visit them

Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Maths Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required for a College i...

    Year 1 Teacher required in Haverhill

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Teacher required for ...

    Lecturer - Construction

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Construction Lecturer needed for a Col...

    SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

    £50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week