Broadway has a new competitor hitting stages this week: New York Fashion Week.
The traditional fashion event, which opens Thursday at Lincoln Center, is now making use of theatrics as designers try to widen their audience.
One of them is New York-based retailer Opening Ceremony, which enlisted filmmaker Spike Jonze and actor Jonah Hill to co-write a one-act play for their Fashion Week show.
Another is New York designer — and former executive creative director of Coach — Reed Krakoft, who will present his collection in an installation that involves art and architecture.
Christina Binkley, the fashion, art and culture columnist for the Wall Street Journal, explained to WNYC's Soterios Johnson that designers are trying new things because there are so many shows in New York Fashion Week now — more than 100.
“The competition to stand out in a crowd like that is so intense these days,” she said. “It used to be that they showed kind of crazy clothes that people would wonder about and now they are taking the theatrics to a high level just to stand out.”
Also like Broadway, Fashion Week uses star-power to get attention. Among the highlights this year are Italian designer Donatella Versace, who will show her Versus Versace collection for the first time in New York Fashion Week, Gwen Stefani, who will present her L.A.M.B. collection, and tennis champ Serena Williams, who will re-launch her Signature Statement Collection by HSN.
New York designer Carmen Marc Valvo will introduce a menswear collection in a sign that men's fashion is getting more attention. “Men are paying more attention to fashion and spending more money in fashion in general,” said Binkley. “Women’s wear is a much larger business than men’s is, but men’s is growing far faster than women’s.”
Binkley said she is most excited to see is Thom Browne, who she believes is leading other designers to do more theatrical shows. He has presented shows in churches, for example, with medieval-looking gowns. “His shows almost have nothing to do with the clothes that he later sells. They are weird and strange,” she said.
New York Fashion Week is until Sept. 11.