For the past few weeks we have been hearing news of an ongoing reshuffling of next February's Fall Fashion Week schedule. DKNY and Carmen Marc Valvo are forgoing the runway in favor of a presentation. Vera Wang is pulling out of the tents and staging a much smaller show in her new SoHo boutique. Tommy Hilfiger is returning to Bryant Park in Wang's time slot, and everyone is supposedly scaling back on show production.
Is this all bad?
Not really. In fact the unfortunate economic situation may well turn out too force a much needed correction for what had become a bloated Fashion Week schedule in New York.
Rest assured that the major players, Calvin, Ralph, Marc, Oscar et al, will be staging full runway shows with most, if not all the trimmings, but is Rock & Republic's decision to cancel its show such a loss?
With nearly 300 shows during the eight day period, and an alarming number of double, triple and even quadruple booked time slots, Fashion Week had become an unwieldy beast, overstuffed with contemporary and denim lines that probably didn't really belong on a high fashion runway to begin with. Maybe it's time for some of those jeans shows to go.
Every season, we have found ourselves at at least one show that has been so poorly attended, and clearly not ready for the scrutiny of the runway, that it almost hurts to see so much money wasted for so little benefit to the label. It hardly seems worth the expense and effort to stage a show only to compete with two other designers at the same time and wind up with a spotty audience of B-list or below press and buyers. Hopefully some of the labels that found themselves in such a situation (and there are more than you might imagine) will now focus their efforts on some of the better trade shows, which probably offer more promising opportunities to build business before turning to the runway later on.
As for the larger players, we there will be less change. Max Azria, who is responsible for three major runway shows at the tents, his eponymous collection, BCBG and Hervé Leger, put it succinctly in yesterday's Wall Street Journal blog,
Azria will continue to stage his shows in the same venues, but will look to negotiate lower costs, so look for fewer fancy programs, elaborate sets and invitations this season. After all, he still has products that have to be shown in a positive and upbeat way.
Undoubtedly, we are in for more disturbing news, as brands on already shaky ground will probably close like Bill Blass did this week. Fashion Week's shakeout may bring the focus of seasonal presentations back to the kind of high fashion they were meant for, and allow for better attention for the lines that continue to show.
Max Azria: The (Three) Shows Must Go On (Heard On The Runway)