New York Fashion Week is going out of style. As designers take their bows after the fall/winter 2015 shows, the biannual frock fest faces an uncertain future. Detractors say the week is becoming little more than a live adaptation of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” with Kim and crew making more headlines than the clothes on the catwalks.
In fact, fabulous denizens of the glitzy industry say New York Fashion Week — which recently lost Mercedes-Benz as its main sponsor, and Lincoln Center as its main location — is at a turning point. They say it either needs to refocus on its roots or embrace its role as a spectacle.
“It’s like Art Basel or Coachella; they used to be an art festival and a music festival,” a seasoned fashion industry insider tells us. “Now they’re about everything except art and music. Fashion Week used to be a press event and now it’s a circus. It’s more about getting your picture taken at events than clothes.”
Pictures everywhere this week have been of the seemingly ever-present Kendall Jenner and Kanye West. Other pix have featured a diaspora of other reality stars and “celebrity bloggers” cluttering the front rows.
Former New York Times fashion editor Cathy Horyn, now a critic for New York Magazine’s The Cut, says West’s show for his new line with Adidas is a perfect example of how celebrities make it harder to keep the focus on making good fashion.
“I think what happens is that the front-row people — whether they’re press, fans or retailers — might lose their skepticism and ability to question something,” she told us at her magazine’s Fashion Week party at the Gramercy Hotel. Horyn says she’s tried speaking with West about his “floundering” designs, but he doesn’t seem interested in criticism. And why would he? “Kanye is a fairly charismatic guy, his wife is beautiful,” says Horyn. “They have a huge social media presence. Everyone likes to be in their circle.”
“The power needs to come back to the designers, and one of two things needs to happen,” says our industry source. “The shows need to become smaller and more focused, and really have only real press people and real buyers, or they need to blow it up and sell tickets to it like everything else.”
Models are also ready to strut away and focus on the other stops on the fashion week circuit: Paris, Milan and London.
“Some of the bigger shows pay in clothing (as opposed to cash),” sniffed a model with the Next agency. “There are only a few well-paid shows left in New York. It’s become a joke.” added our long-legged source.
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