NEW YORK As Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York prepares to kick off Thursday, its much buzzed about move to Lincoln Center from Bryant Park—which has played host to the event since 1993—promises to deliver not just a change in location, but an entirely new approach to the biannual gathering. Here's a look at 10 things that will be different:
1. The tent complex is more than 50 percent larger than at Bryant Park. Although originally estimated to provide 87,000 square feet of space, the Fashion Week tents at Lincoln Center will span almost 100,000 square feet, compared to the tents' footprint in Bryant Park, which was approximately 65,000 square feet.
2. There are four venues for shows, including a dedicated area for presentations. At Bryant Park, Fashion Week offered three venues: The 969-seat Theatre, the 740-seat Promenade, and the 346-seat Salon. At Lincoln Center, IMG Fashion has added the Box, a space just for presentation-style shows, and increased the capacity of the Salon, now known as the Studio, by 50 seats. The Promenade has also been renamed the Stage.
3. An outdoor garden called the Courtyard is a fifth, less formal venue. Studded with red maple trees, the space is surrounded by glass walls and is available for informal presentations and intimate functions.
4. The design and technology of each venue have been improved. Modified to better suit the needs of designers and show producers, each runway venue was upgraded. The Theatre now has a larger backstage area, an upstage video wall, and a bigger scenic truss. The Stage sports white walls and gray carpet alongside stadium-style bench seating. The Studio's gray interior has a longer, wider runway than the Salon, raked seating, and a solid proscenium wall.
5. The check-in process will be enabled by FashionGPS. New to the tents this season is a Web-based program that allows for more efficient control of invitations and check-in. To accommodate the 72 shows using FashionGPS, the company is providing nine kiosks for scanning bar codes, a staffed section with 10 computer terminals, and 19 printers.
6. Luxury bathroom trailers will replace Port-a-Potties. Instead of the typical self-contained restrooms that stood in a separate room at Bryant Park, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center will station three luxury bathroom trailers in the common areas and provide 18 standard units backstage.
7. Sponsor pods in the lobby will sport a new look. No longer called booths, the individual sponsor areas in the lobby are called pods or partner areas and some are modular, which will allow organizers to break down spaces used for only part of the week. More than 4.1 million American boxwood leaves have been removed from their bushes, treated, and reassembled to create hedges that enclose each sponsor's space.
8. Mercedes-Benz and American Express will update their lounges. Sponsors Mercedes-Benz and American Express are bringing back their lounges. In collaboration with interior and event design consultant Carlos Mota, supermodel Iman is designing the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge with fabrics from her upcoming home collection. American Express is bringing in Architectural Digest and interior designer Bill Sofield to create its Skybox, a hospitality area for card members to watch the shows.
9. There will be more room for the media. In addition to AOL's press lounge, a souped-up spot with a live video blogging platform, Fashion Week will provide a trailer for journalists. To be located on Columbus Avenue, this area for print and online media will house hundreds of outlets for computers and other electronics.
10. Lincoln Center will have wireless Internet access. Attendees updating Twitter, blogging from their phones, or sending emails on their iPads won't have to worry about weak signals under the tents. In preparation for the crowd of tech-savvy Fashion Week guests, the Upper West Side campus has been outfitted with wireless Internet.
Disclosure: The writer once worked at IMG Fashion with some of the folks mentioned in this article.