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July 28 2014

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Rowley Reinvents The Runway

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The marathon of runway romps, presentations, and designer fêtes that is New York fashion week will come to a close on Thursday. And after the editors have flown to London and the dust has cleared, what will we have left? The obvious answer is the clothes, of course, but it’s the images of the Spring collections that will remain in our memories and, more importantly, on the Internet for years to come. This is the thinking behind Cynthia Rowley’s new approach to the fashion show. Ms. Rowley, who will debut her Spring looks tomorrow, explains, “As a designer, you work so hard for so long to create a specific look. And it takes a huge budget to put on a show with a set. So I was thinking, if you were going to do a shoot with models and hair and makeup, would you tell the girls to just run past the photographer and hope that you get a shot? Because, with a fashion show, that’s basically what you’re doing.”

Well, when you put it like that, it does sound a little ridiculous. Thus, the designer says no more. After extensive talks with editors and stylists, Rowley has decided to approach her presentation just as she would a photo shoot. Held in a beautifully dilapidated old hotel at 5 Beekman Street, complete with a grand glass atrium (“I couldn’t imagine that something like this still exists in New York!” says Rowley), the “show” will take place on two levels. On the top floor, models will be able to interact with documentary, fashion, and art photographers to create editorial-quality images. These photographs will then be projected into the main space where editors and guests can view the shoot in real time, view the clothes up close on models, and as Rowley puts it, “drink a cocktail and have a little fun, too.”

“I try to push ahead to see how fashion can evolve, and how I can evolve,” says the designer, noting that her Spring collection was, in part, inspired by her show space. “The building is so decrepit and there are layers of paint and wallpaper peeling off the walls, so we’ve kind of echoed that feeling in the clothes with a foiling technique,” she explains, telling Style.com that the high-polish look of the foil will create an interesting contrast against the decaying space. Rowley’s fashion week experiment sounds promising, but will it be a success? We’ll have to wait for the photographs to find out.

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