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Diane Von Furstenberg, Michael Kors Dress Mannequins for Garment District Show

By DNAinfo Staff on June 24, 2010 7:09pm

By Nicole Breskin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

FASHION DISTRICT — Haute couture came to the masses Thursday with mannequins dressed by the likes of Betsey Johnson, Diane Von Furstenberg and Tommy Hilfiger lining Broadway.

The garment district's “Sidewalk Catwalk” fashion show paired 30 top designers with students from Parsons School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology for the project.

“'Sidewalk Catwalk' is a groundbreaking celebration of art and fashion on a public stage,” said Barbara Randall, president of the Fashion Center Business Improvement District, which sponsored the show.

“New York City’s Fashion District is recognized throughout the world as an epicenter of fashion, but it is a community also rich in incredible artistic talent.”

Designer Kenneth Cole, who adorned his mannequin with only the words “underneath it all, you’re naked” in grey print over a black box dress, said his minimalist approach was intentional.

“The challenge was to come up with what your ultimate fashion message is,” said Cole. “For me, it came down to the fact that it’s not just about the outside but the inside.”

Elie Tahari's designs were inspired by a large suspended sculpture in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

“We are going to show at Lincoln Center from now on for Fashion Week,” Tahari told DNAinfo. “I thought this would be a good way to celebrate New York fashion.”

Michael Hyman, 33, of the Bronx, didn’t know who the majority of the designers were, but he liked their designs.

“I respect their creativity,” he said, wearing a non-descript black shirt and shorts among a gaggle of fawning fashionistas.

Pointing to a dress made out of bricks by Council of Fashion Designers of America secretary Yeohlee Teng, he said: “I love that brick gown, and I’d really love to see someone try to pull that off.”

Iranian-born Morad Sakhae, who works in the Garment District selling fabrics wholesale, said he came to get an up-close look at designs for business purposes.

“I like to see what fabrics are popular now,” he said. “There are some beautiful dresses and fabrics here.”

The exhibition is part of the Department of Transportation’s Urban Art Program, and the mannequins will be auctioned off with proceeds going to local non-profit Materials for the Arts, which recycles art materials.

According to organizers, there are more than 30 security guards staffed to watch the mannequins around the clock to make sure the couture isn’t vandalized or stolen.

The exhibition runs until September 3.