A seat at Lincoln Center may not be the hottest ticket in town this Fashion Week.
Designers are pulling their racks of clothes and high-heeled models away from the famous performing arts center to smaller spots in the Meatpacking District and Chelsea.
Liz Walker, Tibi’s director of public relations, told Metro they loved the tents, but couldn't get an acceptable time slot.
"We only had two options in the tents, and neither one worked for us,” she explained.
Squished too closely to other shows, or in a slot that competed with simultaneous shows -- where they would contend for important VIPs choosing between front rows -- they left Lincoln Center behind and scoured off-site hosts.
Last year, she said, people rushing from an Alexander Wang show almost missed theirs -- a near-crisis they didn't want to risk replicating.
Center548 allowed them to pick their time, and they love the white, modern setting, she said.
"I think it’s exciting and new and fresh,” she said. “We like the feel of the Chelsea location."
Women's designer Rebecca Taylor, best known for her popular cocktail dresses, told Metro that after years at the tents, she was ready to stray, choosing the worn-down cobblestones and former horse stables at Highline Stages in the Meatpacking District.
“I really wanted a space that wasn’t too big,” she said. “I just wanted it to feel really intimate and have the girls walk in a huge U around, not huge risers and bleachers.”
She added, “Fashion just moves so quickly, and I think that everybody is always wanting something new.”
In Meatpacking, she said, "I feel like there’s a
lot of really good energy down there. It’s really buzzy.”
Some unusual settings will be on display tonight, during Fashion's Night Out. Jean Fox, cofounder of HIPSTRIPES, a line of caution tape-style intimate apparel, said they wanted city as setting. Models will take a black pedicab down Seventh Avenue, stopping to strut the streets.
“The whole thing is inspired by what we see on the street,” she said. “It’s construction. It’s safety warnings. We said, ‘Let’s take it to the street.’”
Designer Marimekko is also hosting off-site, at the Highline Stages. Marketing Director Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko told Metro they loved the industrial, factory-like look.
Who won't be showing at Lincoln Center
Other designers opting to show at places other than Lincoln Center:
Choosing the right space
Joe Zee, creative director at ELLE magazine and star of Sundance Channel's “All on the Line with Joe Zee,” said designers showing off-site are attracted to creating their own space for shows.
“You do have different designers who like the fantasy of wanting to show at different places for ambiance,” he said.
Also, he pointed out, “It’s not cheap to show at Lincoln Center.”
In the last few years, he’s noticed, Milk Studios in Meatpacking has popped up as the off-site hub for up-and-coming designers.
“Milk has been really great at cultivating that next generation of fashion voices,” he said.
But he cautioned that designers choosing their own spaces to craft runway shows may sacrifice convenience as fashion fans trek downtown.
“The great thing at Lincoln Center is it’s very centralized,” he said. “It’s a pain to get a cab sometimes, if it’s raining. If you’re in a hurry, you do have to hop on the subway."
Wanting something that has 'character'
Designer Rolando Santana said he was showing at an art gallery on West 21st Street because he wanted a clean, beautiful space “that also has its own character.”
“I think it’s a little cool to sort of stay away from the really big brands, and I think that it has more of an exclusive sort of feeling,” he said. “People are looking to offer some individuality to their collections and finding spots that they really connect to, and not necessarily being part of a huge conglomerate.”
They love the tents, publicist Gregory Triana said, because it’s a ready-made stage with designers, photographers and media all steps away and ready to take in the collection. “It’s like a pallet,” he said. “It has everything. It has lighting, it has sound, it has open space.”
At Mohawk, he said, “It’s got a different feel. You’re on the 18th floor, so you’re high up. New York is the backdrop there.”