By Jim Shi Posted February 7, 2012, 8:00 AM EST
On Thursday, as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week ushers in its fourth installment at Lincoln Center, little on the Upper West Side campus has changed, but there has been plenty of buzz about the efforts happening off site.
In the highly insular world of fashion show production, last November's resignation by KCD's senior vice president of production and managing director, Keith Baptista, had many anticipating his next move. Last week, Baptista announced that he, Jihye Song, and Tobi Armstrong—also former KCD event production staffers—have joined forces with OBO Paris's Réne Célestin to form a new design and management company called Prodject. While Baptista has remained mum on what he'll be working on this season, word has it that it's an A-list of designers. Prodject has become an equal partner in the Made Fashion Week project, alongside Milk Studios and the Terminal Presents. The trio of organizations will work with Creative Artists Agency, which presents the property, to develop new programs, including strong digital platforms and retail opportunities.
In terms of the shows, many designers are increasing the size of their venues this season, a 180-degree turn from the more intimate spaces courted during the financial crisis. And although the larger sites don't necessarily mean larger guest lists, a number of designers are expected to feature more elaborate sets and backdrops. The Marc Jacobs and Marc by Marc Jacobs shows will remain ensconced at the 69th Regiment Armory, and Y-3 is back at 82 Mercer. In its debut at New York Fashion Week, Levi's is also using 82 Mercer to stage an art installation, open house, and fashion show to present its global collection.
Tommy Hilfiger and Derek Lam have both relocated out of the tents. The former will present his men's and women's collections at the Park Avenue Armory, and the latter will be at St. John's Center, where Jason Wu is also scheduled to show. Alexander Wang and Diesel Black Gold return to Pier 94, while 3.1 Phillip Lim, which has shown at both the Park Avenue Armory and St. John's Center in recent seasons, will head to the meatpacking district's Highline Stages. And Pier 57, a site that has already seen plenty of lavish affairs, will play host to Edun and Rag & Bone men's and women's events.
Moncler, which has always carved its own niche for the Grenoble presentation—past shows have taken place on a Hudson River barge and inside Grand Central Terminal—will hit the ice at Wollman Rink in Central Park.
At Lincoln Center, Skaist-Taylor, the new label from former Juicy Couture founders Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor, will make its debut with a highly artistic presentation format. Lincoln Center fashion director Stephanie Winston Wolkoff created a special venue exclusively for the brand within the Upper West Side campus dubbed the Garage. Only a fraction of the 15,000-square-foot converted parking facility will be used, and Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda will design the set. The duo, the architects behind Valentino's 45th anniversary exhibition in Rome, also created a film about the new “California Eccentric” collection.
Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, will kick off the week inside the tent lobby with the “Fashion's Night In” event, where guests can make their own fashion accessories out of vehicle materials. Also under the tents will be a Diet Pepsi-style studio, a first for the soft drink brand, hosted by Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler, and showcasing a number of young design talent.
One of the more eye-catching sights at Lincoln Center will undoubtedly be the “Dream Closet” for Barbie promotion that Mattel will unveil Friday. Event producer Extra! Extra! will create an interactive closet, complete with four 24-foot-tall bejeweled doors on each side of the David Rubenstein Atrium. Set in monochromatic shades of pink, the 6,000-square-foot double-decker wardrobe will have a three-story shoe rack and two eight-foot poodle- and pump-shaped topiaries.
Other parties during the week include Diane von Furstenberg's post-show dinner at Indochine and Miu Miu's Valentine's Day screening to celebrate the short film The Woman Dress, which features the brand's new Culte sunglasses. And Hudson Jeans will introduce its new phosphorescent tuxedo-style pant called the Lou Lou with a live street art installation by artist Aakash Nihalani and video projections on trucks near Milk Studios and outside the Scoop meatpacking district store.