At Fashion Week, it's hard to stand out from the crowd

Chanel fashion show

German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld created a supermarket-themed set for his Chanel fashion show to stand out from the crowd in Paris earlier this year.

New York City’s Fashion Week begins Wednesday night, and one of the first shows will be in Central Park — on horse-drawn carriages. 

"We'd like to refer to this as a moving runway," says Tobi Rubinstein Schneier of the Tahor Group, which dreamed up the idea for designer Victor de Souza. Seven models dressed in couture will ride seven carriages drawn by white horses in a loop. "The horses are iconic New York, and they’re majestic and they’re beautiful," says Schneier. "You know, they’re models themselves." 

It's just one of many techniques clothing brands are using to stand out in a crowded field. Ultrahip label Opening Ceremony is putting on a one-act play, co-written by film director Spike Jonze and actor Jonah Hill; British designer Gareth Pugh is creating an "immersive experience." Less established designers are thinking unconventionally as well. Emily Saunders would say only that her models would be static, and that the theme of her collection is a song.

"The 1968 Iron Butterfly song 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,'" she says. 

"There’s no question that cutting through the clutter is what every smart business person is trying to do today," says Alison Kenney Paul, vice chairman of retail and distribution at Deloitte. But in her view, the biggest change to Fashion Week is how the Internet and fast fashion have shortened the distance between the shows and the streets. 

"I believe you’re going to see some of the looks if they really resonate with people almost within weeks, not months," says Paul. "It’s much more of a short, uh, runway, if you will."

Based on current economic conditions, Paul predicts more consumers at the end of that runway this season.

Oh, yeah, and more neutral colors.  

About the author

Stan Alcorn is a multimedia journalist in New York City. He has reported for NPR and WNYC, where he has focused on business and the New York tech scene.

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