photos by scott wintrow/getty images


Models strut their stuff at a fashion preview show by Vogue at Phillips de Pury & Company in New York Wednesday. Fashion week starts today.


Change is in the air as New York prepares to kick off the next fashion season today with eight days of more than 100 runway shows previewing fall styles.


The editors, stylists and retail buyers who attend the shows will be looking to see if models appear a little healthier and even a little heavier amid an international debate over too-thin catwalkers. Fingers likely are crossed, too, as the stylewatchers hope to see more universally appealing clothes than what was initially offered for spring. For example, loose minidresses offered during the last round of shows targeted a young customer with great legs.

Also, this will mark the last time that 7th on Sixth, a division of IMG Fashion and the official organizing body of Fashion Week, is setting up giant tents in Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan to house the majority of the shows, including those staged by Oscar de la Renta, Vera Wang and Diane von Furstenberg.

This past fall, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared the fashion shows had outgrown the facility. The fashion industry’s use of Bryant Park also forces the city to close an ice rink that’s open to the public right at the height of skating season. Many designers may end up moving to individual venues; a new central location has not been identified for the September shows, when the spring 2008 collections will be unveiled.

Furrier Dennis Basso is making his first — and apparently only — appearance at the tents on Feb. 9. It’s a way for him to launch his ready-to-wear line in front of a “prestigious audience,” he said.

Some designers, however, already stay away from the tents, including Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein, which turned the ground floor of its corporate offices into a show space, and Donna Karan, who uses her late husband's art studio.

After a year-long hiatus, Tommy Hilfiger returns to the runway at a concert venue. Up-and-coming designer Phillip Lim is using an industrial-looking former nightclub lined by art galleries.

Lim said it suits the underlying theme of his collection: “Breathing modernity into a classic form.”

Lim was inspired by Grey Gardens, a 1975 film about eccentric socialite Edith Bouvier Beale. “The look is about beautiful creatures from upper society who left to create a fantasy world. It’s pedigree minus prudence,” Lim said. “They have a look of ‘now’ but they’re not being ‘fashionable.’”

The casting process for Lim’s show on Sunday began last week and he said he is seeking out “pretty, healthy girls.”

“I’m doing what I think looks right in my clothes. We look for healthy-looking girls with a natural glow. You can see the difference when someone is not healthy,” Lim said.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America recently issued voluntary guidelines to curb the showcasing of too-thin models. The recommendations include banning models younger than 16 and requiring those identified with eating disorders to get professional help.