In 2004, David Manning, executive producer at LiveStyle Entertainment, and Al Silvestri, vice president and director of corporate marketing and creative services for Hachette Filipacchi Media, founded StyleLounge, an alternative site for Fashion Week shows. Rebranded this season as Style360, the concept incorporates new partners and more sponsors at the Metropolitan Pavilion, as well as off-site events. Style360 held its launch party on Sunday night, and its shows run through Wednesday.
Tell me more about the name change.
David Manning: There has been a lot of proliferation of gifting lounges, and we didn’t want people to misperceive [our events]. It’s not about lounging around—it’s a full-energy fashion showcase with a lot of integrated media. It’s about creating opportunities for consumers to come in and not just members of the industry.
Al Silvestri: When we first started [with StyleLounge], it was more of a loungelike environment where the nighttime events were important. The “360” part of this year’s program is about the 360 experience that really incorporates the retail, online, and other components. There’s a lot of moving parts.
So what are the different aspects of Style360?
Manning: [When it comes to integrating sponsors] I think this is where we go a little bit further than others might. We’re really trying to bring that 360-degree experience to life.
Silvestri: I’m really excited about the partnership with Henri Bendel. And there are so many [other] things going on—there’s a gallery showing photographer Mark Seliger’s work [cohosted by Nikon and American Photo], and there’s a big online component where we profiled three fashion designers on Elle.com and readers voted for which designer would win a free show at Style360. We got 57,000 entries in three weeks. [With the designer presentations] we want to keep the energy really fast-paced: four days of very focused shows and making it more meaningful.
What are you seeing as trends for fashion shows?
Manning: I think fashion as a medium has evolved. Five years ago and maybe more, it was about the clothes and the industry. And now, particularly in New York and in other places where Fashion Week is popping up, fashion is becoming an entertainment medium. With things like Project Runway and designers as celebrities, people as consumers are getting more intrigued by the clothes as well as the designers. How they do it and where they do it is becoming more and more important.
Silvestri: What I’ve been seeing is more designers coming to the table with a themed show. Some, not all. But it’s not only about the collection but about their personalities. Now everything reflects their personalities.
Do you go to the other shows during Fashion Week?
Manning: I always like to see what the bigger houses are doing and what the more playful designers like Heatherette are doing. It’s important for us as producers to go and see what’s being done and see what the trends in events are. [The interesting shows are] ones that can create almost sketches between the clothes, creating drama and excitement, but don’t take themselves too seriously.
Silvestri: I’m more interested in what other people are doing off-site [outside of the tents]. The new ideas, the new thinking.