by Sara Kugler, AP Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Every year during New York Fashion Week, designers can be seen wheeling racks of clothes in their new collections to the tents at Bryant Park, just blocks from their studios in the garment district.
That is all going to change next year, when the twice-annual event moves from its original home at the park on 42nd Street to a plaza within Lincoln Center further uptown.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Council of Fashion Designers of America and IMG Fashion, which runs the shows, announced Tuesday that they had settled on the new location after more than two years of searching and negotiating.
"It has not been easy to find a place for us, a place that was big enough, that was centralized enough, that was right enough," said designer Diane von Furstenberg, CFDA President. "Since we're starting fresh we will try to make them better than the previous one."
Designer Nanette Lepore, a regular at the Bryant Park tents, told The Associated Press that she was saddened by the move because of the history at Bryant Park and its proximity to the historic fashion center. But she added that she liked the idea of a space that won't require a constant struggle.
The mayor has maintained for some time that Fashion Week was outgrowing Bryant Park. The event, which lets designers from all over the world show their collections, began in 1993 with about 35 shows and has grown to some 70 per season.
It takes some three weeks to set up, stage and clean up after the star-studded invitation-only shows at the park behind the New York Public Library. Last year, according to the city, the two events drew 232,000 attendees and generated $466 million in visitor spending.
Bloomberg said Tuesday that his administration worked hard to find a new location because there had been increasing pressure for the events to move to Los Angeles. "That would be a real hit to our economy," he said.
The new space at Lincoln Center is about half a mile to the west and another mile uptown from Bryant Park.
Lincoln Center may be further away from many designers' offices and studios, but they will have more space to present their collections in the new location — about 87,000 square feet, compared to the 70,000 square feet available at Bryant Park, the city said. Lincoln Center also has one of the largest underground parking garages in the city.
IMG Fashion Senior Vice President Fern Mallis said plans for the new space are still being developed, but said there will be more room at Lincoln Center for more than three runways, which was Bryant Park's limit.
Associated Press Writer Samantha Critchell contributed to this story.