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The New Look Of NYFW Is All Business

When it was officially announced that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week would be leaving its most recent tent complex at Lincoln Center, nobody in New York's fashion community was particularly disappointed. Ultimately, the heavy presence of sponsors and increasingly irrelevant promotional events turned fashion folks against the concept of centralized shows that, at its inception as 7th on Sixth two decades earlier, had been hailed as New York Fashion Week's coming of age.
Well, if an absence of sponsors and promotional activity is what they wanted, then that is wha they got. Now unencumbered of its auto industry title sponsor, the newly renamed NYFW: The Shows is going back to basics in a dramatic way with a spare, bare bones set-up in the raw construction space of the future Moynihan Station and a clean, minimalist white space at Skylight Clarkson Square in SoHo.  Of course, the many sponsor booths that were so reviled are gone in the future train station, except for a single Tresemmé mini-salon discreetly off to the side, and, ever more incongruously, a small balcony studio for E!'s Fashion Police (pictured below), the show that will not die even after the only real reason to watch it did. If you used to look forward to grabbing a bottle of Vitamin Water from a handy bin or refrigerator, you will now have to line up at a single window in each location where an attendant will hand you a single bottle —so no more stocking up on free water on your way out, fashion folks. If you are feeling peckish and need a quick bite to eat, as far as we could tell, you will be out of luck at both locations where the standard overpriced cafe featuring sandwiches and other snacks that had come to be a standard fixture was nowhere to be seen. Even the rack of gratis fashion periodicals, always a popular feature, was hidden around a corner by the bathrooms.
It is a move from one extreme to another. Instead of the padded benches we once saw around the main lobby at Lincoln Center, there are now bleachers in midtown on the back wall for anyone who needs to wait around between shows or just wants to sit down (pictured above). A few press tables are hidden at the top, and the arrangement is indeed practical but could easily have been executed with a bit more comfort in mind. Still, it's better that the Skylight Clarkson Square arrangement. While the NYFW: Men's set up in July in the same location was practical but comfortable with little oppressive promotional activity, the current version is all optic white walls and empty space.
The effect of this stripped-down Fashion Week is that of a palate cleanser to say the least. Perhaps the strategy is to show designers who eschewed the tents over the years that WME-IMG's Fashion Week arrangement could be just as spartan as a raw space in the Financial District if that's the vibe they were looking for. But then, Fashion folks can be, dare we say, a bit fickle. After a few runway seasons without random makeup giveaways and other various free stuff, showgoers may be longing for the good old days of sponsor booths and swag. Be careful what you wish for.


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