By Erin L. Souza Posted October 12, 2011, 4:11 PM EDT
BOSTON This year’s Boston Fashion Week dressed for the job it wanted, spiffing up its image by bringing a series of fashion shows to a centralized location for the first time—a stark contrast to previous incarnations of the week that included shows and after-parties at various clubs, hotels, and restaurants across the city.
Called the Tent at Boston Fashion Week, the 3,000-square-foot structure built by Peterson Party Center spanned the courtyard between the Mandarin Oriental Boston and the Prudential Center. The tent seated 250 guests to view 15 designers’ collections between September 23 and 30.
A seismic shift in Boston Fashion Week’s production was not without its challenges, the largest of which was managing public perception, according to Boston Fashion Week founder Jay Calderin. “It was easy for people to assume that [the tent] was Boston Fashion Week, rather than being a part of Boston Fashion Week,” he said. While the new runway shows included looks from designers Daniela Corte, Daniel Foucher, Marie Galvin, and Lily and Miggs, other shows and parties still did take place in other parts of the city.
Designers who showcased their wares at the tent adhered to a minimum requirement of 15 to 24 looks and a tiered pricing system, which included hair, makeup, and models. Six salons prepped models from Maggie Inc., Dynasty Models and Talent, and Model Club for the runway. Corporate participants paid $3,500 to show in the tent; established designers paid $2,000; and new designers showed for free.
The event kicked off with an opening reception for 400 invite-only guests in the Mandarin Oriental ballroom on September 23. With passed snacks and cocktails, the soiree highlighted the week's big-name sponsors, including Boston Properties, Range Rover, and Boston magazine. For the week's duration, a section of the ballroom served as a pre-show reception space with Stella Artois, Grey Goose, and Vitamin Water bars and lounge areas by PBD Events.
Inside the tent, a runway flanked by rows of white and clear Louis chairs lent a sleek, professional feel to the shows—a vibe that the Mandarin Oriental and its Boston Fashion Week partners hope to evolve for future fashion weeks. “The goal is to offer the most professional space in the city [for designers],” according to the venue’s director of public relations, Edwina Kluender. Every facet of the hotel was involved in the process, from servers to operations to security; the venue also used the event as a sales opportunity, promoting a fashion week package for guests.
“A great foundation has been laid this year,” Calderin said. “That will allow for more time to be spent fine-tuning things, and most importantly incorporating new elements that will keep it fresh and relevant for the Boston audience every year.”