Wednesday, April 1, 2009



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.

Fashion Week

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"

Fashion OF America

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.