"Which is better, Lincoln Center or Bryant Park?" That's the question many folks are asking backstage during New York's heralded fashion week. And there's no seamless answer. In many ways, Lincoln Center's sprawling renovated campus is superior. Just gliding up the iconic steps toward the landmark fountain makes you feel like royalty -- as if you're headed to see something extravagant like the opera or ballet. Once inside the lobby, some insiders say they miss Bryant Park.
Lincoln Center's main fashion tent lobby is a showplace to be sure, but some might argue that there's a bit too much is going on. There are Mercedes-Benz vehicles, a pop-up salon, chic lounges, and kiosks where workers print out computerized seating assignments for shows. In the old Bryant Park location, these amenities were neatly framed by the gorgeous fountain that served as the centerpiece of the lobby. But the new fashion tent lobby is pitch-perfect for fashionistas with Attention Deficit Disorder. There's a lot to see and you may have to search for it to track it down.
And then there's the runway. It's unanimous -- Lincoln Center wins hands down. It's wider and those of us who are lucky enough to snag coveted front row seats no longer get chided by the paparazzi (who often yelled at the top of their lungs) for us to uncross our legs because our feet used to obstruct the runway view). The hordes of photographers who are stacked upon each other like pancakes also have more elbow room in their 'pit'. The production value is also far superior with better lighting systems and the high decibel music is more evenly distributed throughout each tent. At some shows in Bryant Park, the music would sometimes be so loud that it was jarring and even distracting from the collections. At Lincoln Center - the production is as exquisite as one of its operas.
However, the new backstage is a total maze -- even the security guys and gals can't navigate it yet. Every time I got lost, I was politely told, "Go ask him, maybe he knows." My camera crew giggled as we walked in circles trying to find our way from one backstage entrance to another. As was the case in Bryant Park, each tent has its own moniker like "Studio", "Theatre" "Box" and "Stage".
And, oh yes, the designers! It's their show after all, and most seem delighted with the new set-up. The dynamic sibling duo Nicholas and Chris Kunz of the label Nicholas K toted their beloved pooch Jake around like kids in a candy store. Supermodel Iman gushed over the new fashion hot spot. During the course of her 30+ year trailblazing career, she has seen some of the most lavish venues in the world and she says Lincoln Center was one of the best she's ever seen.
Not surprisingly, not all of the fashion elite will show at Lincoln Center. Acclaimed designer Carmen Marc Valvo is putting his money on Nasdaq. For the second season in a row, he is unveiling his Spring 2011 red-carpet worthy dresses and gowns at the financial mecca in the heart of Times Square. Valvo says, " I love showing my collection in the heart of New York City. It's close to the fashion center and easily accessible for buyers and press and all New Yorkers who can see the show live outside in Times Square."
Look for other big name designers to camp out under tents at Lincoln Center like Max Azria, Tommy Hilfiger and Betsey Johnson who will undoubtedly do her trademark cartwheels for a standing room audience inside the biggest tent. The darling of the fashion world is known for bringing down the house with her zany shows; it's a very safe bet that after they fold down the tents at fashion week's end -- Lincoln Center will never be the same.