Ciao, Bryant Park

East Coast, Other
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
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Fashion Week is abandoning Bryant Park for Diller Scofidio + Renfros newly redesigned Lincoln Center, specifically Damrosch Park, which can be seen in the upper lefthand corner. (Courtesy Playbill)

Fashion Week is abandoning Bryant Park for Diller Scofidio + Renfro's newly redesigned Lincoln Center, specifically Damrosch Park, which can be seen in the upper left hand corner. (Courtesy Playbill)

The AP first reported last night, and the mayor confirmed it earlier today: Fashion Week is departing Bryant Park for Lincoln Center. But not just any Lincoln Center. The new-and-improved, Diller Scofidio + Renfro-approved Lincoln Center. According to Bloomberg–in this case, we mean both the mayor and his eponymous news service, via the latter link above–the festivities will take place at the center’s Damrosch Park.

Bryant Park will go tent-free after 2009, much to the glee of sun bathers and ice skaters. Click for an after shot (☆Mark☆/Flickr)

Bryant Park will go tent-free after 2009, much to the glee of sun bathers and ice skaters. Click the photo for an after shot of the tents. (☆Mark☆/Flickr)

We emailed the ever-fashionable “R” in DS+R, Charles Renfro, to get his take on the news:

In general, Fashion Week is one of the most vibrant events that New York has to offer. We are pleased that they have chosen Lincoln Center as their venue. It suggests that Lincoln Center’s efforts to shift perceptions of the facility from elitist acropolis to popular forum have been effective. Those efforts include the redesign of course, but also include more youthful and affordable programming. For heaven’s sake, I saw Sufjan Stevens perform there. And my tickets were free!

Now while we agree with that sentiment, Fashion Week seems to run counter, more exclusive elitism than than inviting populism. Still, our dear Renfro persists:

Like most events at Lincoln Center,  one can purchase tickets to Fashion Week tent shows, though I will admit that price points are higher than the current $20 Met cheap seats. And they sell out fast.

Fashion Week is not that different than a Giants game: If you have any desire to go, you can buy a ticket. If you can get one, a seat on the 50 yards line will set you back $700 while a fashion week tent ticket will set you back $150, and all the tent seats are essentially 50 yard line seats.

If you say so.

As for the park itself, “We haven’t moved into that phase of the redesign yet,” Renfor wrote, and it remains to be seen if, whether, or how Fashion Week might impact the redesign–a rather controversial one at that, because it will remake one of Dan Kiley’s more famous landscapes.

From concerts to models, Damrosch Park now has it all. (Joshua White/Ashra.com)

From concerts to models, Damrosch Park now has it all. (Joshua White/Ashra.com)

Best known for free summer concerts–we especially enjoyed Mahmoud Ahmed last year–the new digs will almost certainly be fancier than the former ones, at least after DS+R is through with them. The trade offs: far less subway access–the Times points out that Chelsea Piers posed a similar challenge in 1997–and a departure from the industry’s psychic home, the Garment District.

Still, the move was inevitable, as Times fashion writer Eric Wilson makes clear:

Although the fashion shows, now operating as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week to reflect a corporate sponsorship, were welcomed in Bryant Park in 1993, there were frequent clashes with the management company that controls its maintenance and security.

The dispute intensified in 2006, when the Bryant Park Corporation announced it would no longer allow the shows to happen in the park, because they were interfering with plans to operate a skating rink in the winter and public use of the main lawn in the late summer.

And so, greener pastures have now been traded for chicer ones.

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