NEW YORK CITY — The presence of leggy models roaming the streets clutching portfolios and the absence of available cabs can only mean one thing: New York Fashion Week is back.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week officially launches in the tents at Lincoln Center on Thursday, and a host of designers including Oscar de la Renta are also showing at other locations throughout the city.
But while many runway shows and after-parties are the domain of fashion insiders, there are spinoff events happening all over the city accessible to the general public.
Here are some of our picks:
An Open-Air Fashion Show and a Protest
On Wednesday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m., designer Victor de Souza, known for his decadent gowns worn by Rihanna and Katy Perry, will turn 59th Street between Fifth and Seventh avenues into a runway, with models perched atop horse-drawn carriages. De Souza's use of the horses has drawn the ire of animal rights activists. NYCLASS and Stopping NYC Horse Abuse, two groups at the center of a fight to ban the horse-drawn carriages from Central Park, will protest at de Souza's show starting at 5:30 p.m.
Soak in the Atmosphere at Lincoln Center
While the tents holding Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week are accessible only by invitation, those fashionable ticket holders and, if you're lucky, celebrities, must first go through Josie Robertson Plaza and herds of street-style photographers. Benches surrounding the open-air plaza's waterfall are a perfect spot to take in all the style and the crowds. The ideal time to hang out at the plaza, at West 62nd Street and Columbus Avenue, is about 30 minutes before and after a scheduled show, especially big names like BCBGMAXAZRIA and Lacoste.
Watch Runway Shows Live on the Web
Every runway show that is part of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week will be streamed live through the Fashion.Rightster.com website. Check the official schedule for the time and date of each show. Fashion.Rightster.com is free, but requires users to create an account before viewing shows.
The restaurants, cafes and bars surrounding Lincoln Center are inundated with models, fashion editors and stylists who are grabbing a bite between shows. The Lincoln Square Business Improvement District has gathered a list of about 25 places within a high-heeled stroll of the Fashion Week tents that have either a prix fixe menu or drink specials available to all. Eateries and bars on the list include The Smith at Broadway and West 63rd Street with a prix fixe three-course lunch Monday to Friday for $27.
The Garment District is still a buzzing place in the weeks leading up to Fashion Week, as designers such as Nanette Lepore work in the neighborhood. Michael Kaback, who has been working in the local fashion industry since 1965, hosts a two-hour tour with the Garment District Alliance twice a month that can include visits to showrooms and factories. The next tour is on Thursday, Sept. 4 at 10 a.m. and begins at Seventh Avenue and 39th Street on the northeast corner. Reservations can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Neighborhood Fashion Show on the Lower East Side
The Lower East Side Business Improvement District brings fashion and art together for the LES Opening Night on Sunday, Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. An open-air fashion show curated by Cosmopolitan.com editor Amy Odell will showcase the stock of more than 20 neighborhood clothing boutiques modeled by dancers from the nearby Paul Taylor Dance Company. The runway show coincides with fall exhibition openings for more than 30 Lower East Side galleries. Find more event details here.