Street-style spotters: If you want to catch the fashion flock in all their (ridiculous, weather-inappropriate) glory, don’t go to Lincoln Center.
Instead, try Penn Station. Or the High Line. Or Tribeca. Basically, go anywhere south of Fashion Week’s former Upper West Side venue, and you’re bound to catch a glimpse of Anna Wintour’s bob or Cara Develaigne’s eyebrows eventually.
“I like change,” says New York-based designer Bibhu Mohapatra, who will show at Skylight Clarkson Sq in Tribeca after several seasons at Lincoln Center. “There’s a fresh energy in the spaces, and downtown really is the new home of fashion.”
Even before Lincoln Center filed a lawsuit claiming that IMG Fashion Week’s lease violated a charter agreement (oops!), the fashion vanguard had already started making their way south. Edgier designers, from Marc Jacobs to Rodarte, had decamped downtown long ago, and even more mainstream brands like Diane von Furstenberg and Michael Kors were following their lead in recent years.
“People really reacted negatively to all the corporate logos everywhere,” says Style Wylde founder Cynthia Anderson, a photographer who has covered the shows for 14 seasons. “The plaza, the megatrons — they made Fashion Week feel less exclusive, less cool.”
But even if the two venues are closer to “cooler” shows, they’re still not exactly convenient — try shuttling between Tribeca and midtown with camera equipment, show notes and statement shoes, and you’re going to get tired fast (not to mention miss a few appointments).
And while the two main venues house a majority of the presentations, there are still hundreds of designers showing at other venues, including Milk Studios near the High Line, long the site of the alternative MADE Fashion Week, which spotlights smaller brands.
“It’s liberating for designers to pick a location that echoes the inspiration for their collection,” says Pamella Roland, who will show at the snazzy new Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District. “But a centralized location makes it easier for buyers and press — especially in February.”
Plus, for all its faults — the crowds, the terrible nightclub-esque redesign — there was something special about Lincoln Center.
“It is this hub of culture,” says Mohapatra. “The opera, musicals, ballet — it made sense to have fashion in that spot.”
“I think people will miss the bigness of it all,” adds Anderson. “Those Anna Sui shows with the crush of people and supermodels and flashing lights — nothing beats those.”