it all lost its luster when we discovered that the Birkin waiting list was a hoax
New York Fashion Week was once the hottest ticket in town. Style-obsessed teens would park outside the tents at Bryant Park — and, later, Lincoln Center — in all their finery, in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Anna Wintour or Sarah Jessica Parker. Naked PETA protesters would hurl pies and throw paint at editors’ fur coats. A weird club kid could crash a party at the Beatrice Inn or Don Hill’s and no one would bat an eye.
Not anymore, says Hannah Elliott, a luxury reporter for Bloomberg. “I noticed it [the other night] at the opening party for men’s fashion week,” she says. “Seemingly all of the people there were publicists and bloggers. Even as recently as five years ago, fashion parties were filled with downtown kids, artists, models and designers. But the whole thing has changed.”
She’s not alone in finding Fashion Week a bit stilted. As the women’s shows get ready to launch on Thursday, editors, designers and other insiders are saying the whole thing has become passé.
“We have designers, retailers and everybody complaining about the shows,” Diane von Furstenberg told WWD in December.
On Friday, Tom Ford canceled press previews of his fall 2016 collection, which had been scheduled for next week in New York. Instead, he’ll show — and, in a major industry shake-up, sell — his items simultaneously in the more seasonally appropriate September.
“Our customers today want a collection that is immediately available,” Ford said in a statement. “Fashion shows and the traditional fashion calendar, as we know them, no longer work in the way that they once did.”
The blow came on the heels of the news that London-based Burberry will combine its men’s and women’s collections in two shows every year, with “seasonless” lines immediately available to purchase on the Web.
In New York, part of the fashion fatigue stems from the fact that the biannual event is bigger — and more overwhelming — than ever. In 2012, the New York Fashion Week calendar boasted some 270 shows; that number has swelled to close to 400.
“Everyone in the industry complains about New York Fashion Week,” echoes Lauren Indvik, editor-at-large of Fashionista. “People just don’t want to go,” she says, “especially when the weather is freezing in February.” Indvik adds that she has significantly cut down on the number of shows she attends.
So has Bloomberg’s Elliott. “I don’t need to cover many of them,” she says, “but I go to support friends and sources who I use in my reporting.”
The lack of a central location — Fashion Week was kicked out of its previous Lincoln Center home in 2015 — adds to the hassle, making the event more alienating to outsiders who used to add color to the scene.
“You definitely see a lot less workers on their lunch breaks or tourists coming by to people-watch,” says Indvik.
On the whole, says Elliott, Fashion Week — once delightful and scrappy and exciting — has become overly corporate and creatively hollow. “It feels more like a game show or a reality show,” says Elliott, “than anything underground, fresh or unique.”