By Nicole Breskin
MIDTOWN EAST — After a 17-year run, the iconic white tents of Fashion Week went up for the last time in Bryant Park as organizers geared up for the fall 2010 shows beginning Thursday.
When Fashion Week debuts at its new Lincoln Center location next September, the familiar large-scale tent design with three runway venues may be entirely scrapped, fashion insiders told DNAinfo.
“We are able to reinvent the tent-runway scheme — that doesn’t have to be what will happen at Lincoln Center,” said Steven Kolb, Executive Director of the Council for Fashion Designers of America. “Planners are looking at it from a fresh perspective.”
IMG Fashion, which produces the show, remained tight-lipped on its future design plans, but Fashion Week’s new director at Lincoln Center, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, confirmed that fashion’s elite can expect to see changes this fall.
“The Tents are going to be different,” said Wintston Wolkoff, who was cherry-picked from Vogue for the job. “We hope to enhance what’s already there, but nothing has been finalized.”
The final curtain call for the event in Bryant Park — and perhaps the current design scheme — has already caused nostalgic reflections from several leaders in the fashion industry. This season Fashion Week's tent walls will display quotes by famed designers whose styles have graced its runways.
“The Tents have always been the center of the fashion universe and no matter where they are, they will continue to represent the best of American fashion,” said designer Elie Tahari in one of the wall's quotes.
Nina Garcia, of Marie Claire, who appears on "Project Runway," wrote in the magazine: “Bryant Park put the term ‘The Tents’ on the map and gave them a whole new meaning—one of unparalleled glamour and prestige that will forever be an integral part of fashion history.”
Local businesses have drawn huge profits from the two-week event and are also sad to see the tents go.
Sandwich shop ’wichcraft, which operates two kiosks along with a café and catering stations in Bryant Park, serves up thousands of sandwiches throughout the event.
“We’ll miss it,” said ‘wichcraft co-founder Jeffrey Zurofsky, who said 70 percent of his February business was due to Fashion Week. “We enjoyed the challenge.”
When Fashion Week began in Bryant Park in 1993 with 35 shows, the park had just finished extensive refurbishments and was trying to re-brand itself after years of being known as “Needle Park,” a place rife with drug dealers and prostitutes.
Fashion Week helped the park clean up its image, according to the Bryant Park Corporation.
“Fashion Week brought an image of sophistication to Bryant Park. It made it a place to see and be seen,” said Jerome Barth, Vice President of Bryant Park Corporation. “The chic, beautiful people that made Bryant Park their home during Fashion Week wouldn’t have been caught dead in the old Bryant Park.”
But the nature of the symbiotic relationship changed as Fashion Week grew to take over the entire park and pushed its event dates up a month— ahead of European fashion shows in an aim to set the international standard — which interfered with public uses of the park, namely an ice skating rink.
In February 2009, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Lincoln Center would be the new home of Fashion Week, relocating to Damrosch Park, where the Big Apple Circus currently has a home.
“Lincoln Center will add so much more to the standing of what exists,” said Winston Wilkoff. “It lends itself to art and design coming together. It will be the epicenter of the two worlds.”
Kolb agrees: “Designers say, ‘I’ve made it as designer because made it in Bryant Park.’ But I do I think that will translate to Lincoln Center."