Snow May Leave Fashion Week in Cold

A model wears fashion from the Vivienne Tam spring 2010 collection, as part of Fashion Week in New York, Saturday, Sept., 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Stuart Ramson)
AP Photo/Stuart Ramson
New York Fashion Week is set to showcase the Fall 2010 collections, but designers may still be very much focused on winter wear.

A severe winter storm is passing through the region, dumping snow in the city and all along the East coast. And that is throwing a major curveball to the fast-paced fashion industry, which is gearing up for the kickoff of Fashion Week on Thursday.

"This storm is going to have a big impact," said Ian Gerard, founder and CEO of Gen Art, an organization that showcases up-and-coming fashion designers. "It will definitely affect many of the smaller shows tonight and tomorrow 15 years I can not remember any major snow storm like this on the eve of Fashion Week."

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The problems, according to Gerard - whose organization has featured designers like Zac Posen, Phillip Lim and Milly at the beginning of their careers - stem from the tightly-packed logistics that make up Fashion Week. Designers often rent a venue space only for the day of their event, which gives little leeway time for the many deliveries, model fittings and other plans that go into producing a fashion show.

"A lot of venues are booked from one day to the next," Gerard explained. "And unless you're doing [the event] in your own showroom, you can't reschedule."

Fashion publicist/consultant Bonnie Morrison, who is working on this week's Zac Posen show, agrees that the weather is a concern for designers presenting their collections this week - but it's only one of the many things they'll be worrying about.

"I think most people are so involved with last-minute preparations that they are thinking of the snow, but it's only one of a half dozen - or more - issues on their minds," she said.

Travel is another issue - models, guests and even items from the designers' collections are in constant transit. Everything from flights into New York to the time it takes to hop a cab cross-town may be affected.

The biggest worry with travel, Morrison said, will be if people coming from outside New York, especially those arriving from other countries, are forced to postpone their trips or decide to cancel them. Once they make it into the city, the only trouble will be potential delays getting around town - but that shouldn't stop eager guests from viewing the latest fashions.

"An old boss used to say, 'Editors aren't made of sugar - they can get wet,'" Morrison added.

Smaller designers usually bear the brunt during bad weather, according to Contributing Editor Meenal Mistry.

"No one is missing Marc Jacobs or Rodarte, but they may well skip the unknown designer who they can always see later by appointment," she said.

The jam-packed week-long schedule also means that having a contingency plan for things delayed by bad weather is unlikely.

"It depends on your producer...but fashion isn't some bureaucracy like the city or state government, with disaster plans," Morrison explained. "In fact, a lot of us are very, very disorganized. Though, if one thing falls through, it's generally quite easy to create a back-up…people work until all hours and they're used to making things happen under extreme conditions. The New York work ethic is unlike any other."

Mistry agrees about the resourcefulness of those in the fashion industry - from editors to buyers to the designers themselves - and she doubts anyone will clear their catwalk over the snow.

"This is just another hurdle akin to 'How am I going to get my knits here from Peru in time?' We all have a job to do and it's on a tight schedule," she added. "We roll with whatever is thrown our way. I remember when Alexander McQueen showed in New York many years ago - it was on the piers during a hurricane. I heard the roof was shaking but the show was packed. Only during 9/11 did I ever see shows postponed."

Ian Gerard says his Gen Art show, which will showcase collections from four different designers, is ready to go on as scheduled Wednesday night. His organization had the advantage of being able to store deliveries like liquor and lighting equipment at the venue early, and the event runs from 7-9 p.m., so guests don't have to worry about missing the whole show if they don't get there exactly when it starts. Finally, guests can line up inside the venue instead of having to wait outside in the snow - another thing that may deter an attendee.

And John Patrick, who is set to present a line from John Patrick Organic Thursday morning, said that while things now are "a little hairy," he is optimistic about his show's outcome, even as today's bad weather is holding up a delivery of accessories and delaying the construction of the set at the Midtown studio where his presentation will be held.

"There are always surprises," he said. "But the important thing is learning to roll with the curves...we're so fortunate to be doing what we're doing. You can't lose your composure."
By Jessica Derschowitz