Will there ever be a centralized New York Fashion Week again?

After spending literally years in and around Bryant Park, Stan Herman and Fern Mallis returned there Tuesday morning for the unveiling of a bench named after them.

In their previous roles at the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Herman served as president and Mallis as executive director. Starting in 1993, they ushered in a new era for American fashion designers by organizing the biennial New York Fashion Weeks under large white tents in Bryant Park. That consolidated what had been a citywide event and established “7e on Sixth” as a destination in itself. But that moment ended after Tommy Hilfiger’s fall 2009 fashion show.

More from WWD

Given IMG’s recent announcement that it will shift its focus from producing a centralized location for NYFW: The Shows to focusing its efforts on facilitating brand partnerships and creative collaborations between brands and designers, Tuesday’s tribute was an excellent setting to discuss the future of NYFW.

Guests like Jeffrey Banks, Marylou Luther, Lisa Silhanek and Teri Agins mingled outside the Bryant Park Grill, which is steps away from the bank. As sunny and bright as Tuesday morning was, 95-year-old Herman talked about some of Bryant Park’s dark days. With all the warts and turns of the shows, the difficulties “and all the screaming after we finished it,” Herman said, “it really was this fashion week in New York.”

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 8: Stan Herman and Fern Mallis attend NICOLE MILLER Spring 2007 Fashion Show at the Promenade at Bryant Park on September 8, 2006 in New York.  (Photo by Scott Rudd/PMC) *** Local Caption *** Stan Herman;Fern MallisNEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 8: Stan Herman and Fern Mallis attend NICOLE MILLER Spring 2007 Fashion Show at the Promenade at Bryant Park on September 8, 2006 in New York.  (Photo by Scott Rudd/PMC) *** Local Caption *** Stan Herman;Fern Mallis

Having owned a studio overlooking Bryant Park since 1975 and heading the community board’s parks committee that same year, Herman said, “I’ve known Bryant Park since it was called ‘needle park’ and ‘never-going-to-be parked.’ Then it was supposed to be ‘the best park in the world’ and I saw it closed for two years and then redeveloped.”

In anticipation that the future of NYFW will be bright, Herman said, “New York is resilient. If they get their act together and there’s a beacon or personality that pulls it in the right direction, New York will be there forever. I’m excited by the clothes I see. I’m one of the few people [who is.] The menswear was extraordinary.”

After spending “18 glorious years” at Bryant Park, Mallis said she was proud of the way they put the American fashion industry on the map. That was more poignant, in light of the recent news that IMG is no longer producing shows at an organized venue. “Fashion Week, as we know it, is over. Fashion will still happen in New York because it’s such an important, great industry with that level of creativity.”

<a href=Tommy Hilfiger RTW Fall 2009″ data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/FHw.prezxXfevslkVflOuQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY5Nw–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/wwd_409 /aaa16e6d0e3a935ae1e6144cf3eeb982″/><a href=

Mallis recalled that Tommy Hilfiger’s runway show was the last to be held in Bryant Park, saying, “Every fashion week since then, I’ve been stopped constantly by people saying, ‘Please bring back the tents.'”

Despite this, Mallis does not expect a return of a more uniform fashion week. “No, I think everyone is more about everyone for themselves,” Mallis said. “Everyone wants to do their own things, which we respected when we made the tents. If someone booked a location somewhere else, we would send a bus there. We tried to make it work for the people who attended the shows.”

With IMG out of the picture, Mallis wondered who could succeed them and raise the money it would take to produce a venue. “It’s an expensive proposition and we’ve done our utmost to get sponsorship, keep everyone happy and keep a balance between the designers and the creativity,” she said.

Stan HermanStan Herman

Tommy Hilfiger, Stan Herman, Fern Mallis and Dan Biederman.

She became thoughtful and said she always joked that she and Herman should have a bench in Bryant Park, and the late Ivan Bart, former president of IMG Models, put that plan in motion. Hilfiger endorsed the sofa and unveiled it Tuesday morning.

Standing with his wife Dee, Tommy Hilfiger recalled wheeling racks of runway looks from his Midtown office to Bryant Park. He said: “I just remember how phenomenal it was to have the tents and all the shows here.”

Mallis added, “There was so much energy. Everyone felt like they had really made it when they walked past those velvet ropes and got in.”

The more united front that came with the move to Bryant Park was crucial for American fashion. “That was history, because every American designer showed in the tents,” Hilfiger said

When asked if there will ever be a more unified Fashion Week effort, Hilfiger replied: “I hope so.”

Another attendee, Steven Kolb, CEO of the CFDA, doesn’t foresee NYFW ever returning. ‘No, and I don’t think we need that. The idea of ​​a central location was good for the time it happened. We are many years past that. Even if there was a central location, no matter how strong it was, people walked in and out. They showed for a season or two and then they left.”

The independence of showing off off-site is what really drives NYFW, Kolb said. “I’ve always said New York City is the official location. Fashion week is stronger than ever. Last season we had 70 really great shows. There’s a great selection we’re putting together for September. This idea of ​​a group thing is old-fashioned.”

Willy Chavarria at Willy Chavarria Spring 2023 ready to wear fashion show at Marble Collegiate Church on September 14, 2022 in New York, New York.Willy Chavarria at Willy Chavarria Spring 2023 Ready to Wear Fashion Show at Marble Collegiate Church on September 14, 2022 in New York, New York.

Willy Chavarria takes a bow during his Spring 2023 ready-to-wear fashion show at New York’s Marble Collegiate Church in September 2022.

Plus, there’s no sponsorship for Fashion Week like there used to be, “so you can’t sustain that in a business model,” Kolb said. And choosing individual locations is expressive for designers. “That’s the point, right? When you’re in a cookie-cutter space with a two-hour turnover, it’s hard. Whether it is an abandoned warehouse in Brooklyn, a park near Battery Park, Moynihan Station, the Empire State Building, the location speaks as much to the collection as the collection itself.”

Yeohlee Teng said the Bryant Park shows put American fashion on the map worldwide, thanks to the efforts of Herman and Mallis. “That’s a real legacy for both of them,” the designer said.

On her prospects for the future, Teng said: “I think there is a lot of diversity, but new leadership needs to emerge for us to grow.”

There have been “early discussions” with Vornado Realty Trust about using the space located on the former site of the Hotel Pennsylvania at Seventh Avenue and East 33rd Street that could serve as a NYFW venue, according to Dan Biederman, the 34e Chairman of Street Partnership. He suggested Bryant Park as another option in late September, saying, “Is there ever a chance to change the calendar — ever?”

Michael Schwarz, Herman’s design collaborator for 26 years, talked about how Herman’s memoir “Uncross Your Legs: A Life in Fashion” and the Bryant Park bench have affirmed what Herman has meant to the industry. “I’m an emotional sap. When I get a chance to step back, you can see me start to cry. I have been fortunate to experience the bridge between old-fashioned and new fashion. Stan is that bridge. He has cared about the industry for so long,” Schwarz said. “Unlike many people, he is not stuck in the mud of the past. He enjoyed it and understood how important it is, but he is always excited about the future.”

The best of WWD

Leave a Comment