There's still a bit more movement happening at the Shops at Columbus Circle. Original front row tenant Tourneau has taken leave of its spot to the left of the mall's main entrance (pictured below), relinquishing it to Michael Kors, whose store count in the city we can barely keep up with. Kors is not only taking over the space vacated by the watch chain, but also the store next door. J.W. Cooper, which you may remember from the elaborate "trophy" belt buckles and other swanky jewels and objets d'art that memorably used to be displayed in its window, has also vacated its prime space, but if you do have a latent hankering for a $3,200 sterling silver belt buckle with scroll designs and 18K gold accents surrounding an Indian head, you can head on down to Bal Harbour, Florida to visit its other shop. Anyway, back on Columbus Circle, you can see the signage covering both stores that will be combined to make a space suitably large enough for another Kors "lifestyle" store. We aren't sure if it will be finished before or after Kors' upcoming lifestyle flagship in SoHo, but it looks like before too long, there will be even more Kors stores in Manhattan, and we doubt that this will be the last one.
New York's Fashion Show-goers have been griping about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week since long before it moved from Bryant Park to Lincoln Center, but the choruses of dissatisfaction have grown in volume in recent seasons, and Next year, it looks like the event will finally be losing what's left of its top tier of designer. It has been years since most of America's biggest designers like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs have shown under IMG's tent complexes at either Bryant Park or Lincoln Center (despite being on the schedule as 'off-site' participants), and hotter, young designers like Rodarte, Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, Jason Wu and Prabal Gurung have either never shown there at all, or swiftly disassociated themselves from the location after an initial show or two there.
Now, WWD is reporting that Michael Kors and Diane Von Furstenberg, the two most prominent designers who have faithfully remained at the tents, are expected to show their Fall 2014 collections elsewhere, joining Vera Wang and Carolina Herrera who have already indicated that they will be exploring other venue options when Fashion Week rolls around on February 6th. That makes four major losses for IMG in one season alone, a major blow to MBFW's prestige and without anyone representing America's top luxury brands showing there, it's claim of being New York's official Fashion Week venue ring more hollow than ever. For its part, IMG has already announced changes for the venue to make it less circus-like, but their announcements center around trimming guest lists, and making venues smaller blaming bloggers and attention seeking guests looking to be discovered by street style photographers for Fashion Week's problems. The real reason why designers have been steadily exiting the tents over the past few seasons, however, has been the excessive presence of ever less upscale sponsors, giving the tents a trade-show atmosphere starting with main sponsor Mercedes-Benz's insistence on putting shiny cars where no car should be —in a fashion show tent. It turned out that America's biggest designers do not want to show in the same place that Joan Rivers is taping an episode of "Fashion Police", or where there is a huge booth for yet another questionable fashion reality TV show like Rihanna's "Styled to Rock", but this is how IMG has made money on Fashion Weeks not only in New York but in many cities worldwide. This activity is not likely to slow down.
So what will the next New York Fashion Week mean for what was once New York's prized fashion venue? IMG isn't commenting on the lineup until it is officially announced in a couple of weeks, and many popular designers like Monique Lhuillier, Tory Burch, Nanette Lepore and BCBG are still expected to show there, but they are mostly not what one would call "Big Tent" designers who can fill the largest show venue to capacity. IMG and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week are in a bit of a transition themselves having just been purchased by William Morris Endeavor and Silver Lake Partners who are expected to take a long look at the feasability of the show complex. The CFDA is finally getting more involed too, joining with The Fashion Calendar to try and impose some order on the hundreds of shows that now take place in New York. The organization originally created the central show location two decades ago to keep designers in one place so attendees wouldn't have to travel all over town. Now, fashion week sprawls more than ever. Most designers and the CFDA are looking forward a few years when the Culture Shed at Hudson Yards will become the official home to New York Fashion Week, but whether or not IMG and Mercedes-benz will be invited —or even be involved at all remains in question. Expect to hear a lot more about the future of Fashion Week between now and February 6th, so stay tuned.
We thought that that the high profile store Michael Kors opened in Rockefeller Center a couple of years ago was mean to be the designer's number one flagship location, but it turns out he has had bigger things in mind. Kors' upcoming sixth (sixth!) store in Manhattan will more than double the size at 17,000 square feet, finally giving him enough room to include his men's collection which will get its own floor. We already knew that Kors is taking over the Club Monaco spot next to Aritzia at 520 Broadway just below Spring Street, but judging from the description in today's WWD and the rendering pictured above, he will be adding an entire second floor to the space which reportedly will house the largest selection ever of his moderately priced, MICHAEL Michael Kors label. The main floor will house his accessories, and men's will live on the "concourse" level (downstairs?). Kors CEO John Idol tells WWD, “This is the first opportunity for us to present the men’s collection in a complete format, featuring tailored clothing, shirts, ties, sportswear and accessories, in one of our stores,” and adds that the men's collection, though shown on the runway with the Women's main collection for years, is still taking shape.
As for the original SoHo Kors lifestyle boutique a few blocks away on Prince Street, next to the Apple Store, it will remain open, but shift its focus to the higher end women's Collection line, echoing the Collection boutique on Madison Avenue, and giving all of Michael Kors' product lines full representation in the SoHo neighborhood. With the new location, the designer's Manhattan store count will rival that of Big Cheese Ralph Lauren who currently has seven stores in the borough for various lines after the shuttering of the Rugby stores. Ralph may yet pull ahead, as he is rumoured to have his eye on a big chunk of the former Disney store on Fifth Avenue —not that we would ever suggest that these designers are competitive with each other in any way.
Few designers had as busy of a year in Manhattan as Michael Kors who ended the year with three new stores. You would think he would take a little breather, but he is simply not one to stand around and let a good opportunity pass him by. Madison Avenue Spy (which has a pretty good track record on these things) tells us that Kors will be either expanding or moving his "lifestyle" (read "cheaper") store at 667 Madison Avenue into the former Steuben location right next door. So easy! He won't even have to change any address information!
Michael Kors Takes Steuben (Madison Avenue Spy)
This week marks the first appearance of Alexandra Jacobs as the Thursday Styles' new Critical Shopper. We don't know it she will be the permanent replacement for the departed Cintra Wilson, but she makes a respectable premiere in the role as she assesses the new Michael Kors Collection flagship on Madison Avenue. Jacobs' lukewarm take on the place makes it clear that she will not be fawning over designers, calling Kors' much fêted 30-year career "consistent if not generally spine-tingling". The store's design is deemed "standard" while the staff is found "solicitous to the point of chirpy".
In the end, our new Shopper is more amused than seduced by the designer's more extravagant offerings and, in an encouraging sign, sees the humor in the impracticality of the cruise collection as she is warmed not to actually swim in a best-selling bathing suit,
Back inside, a cleaning lady was mopping the white, white floors with a Swiffer whose green leaves matched the swimsuit’s, Mr. Kors’s worldview not being one that contains dirt — nor, in all instances, common sense. Witness the admonition attached to a beach bag made with raffia imported from Madagascar ($995), that one should avoid water and oil while using it; and the “luxury sweatshirt” made of cashmere and cotton pima for $695.
It's a promising debut, and, though she has not yet approached La Cintra's level of fanciful insight, it will be interesting to see how her point of view develops.
Critical Shopper: For Kors, the Glow Doesn’t Fade By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
Michael Kors 790 Madison Avenue betweek 67th & 68th Streets, Upper East Side
NOW OPEN: Michael Kors Is Bright And Shiny On Madison