With nearly 300 runway shows and presentations taking place next week, not every designer on the New York Fashion Week schedule gets a spot at Lincoln Center, or even Milk Studios.
Nor do some of them want one. Alterna venues reign amongst the cool kids—Proenza Schouler, Band of Outsiders and Rag & Bone, to name a few—and the stalwarts (Oscar de Renta, Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren always show off-site).
Under-the-radar spaces are also the best bet for emerging designers who may not be able to afford the high costs of the Tents. (Milk Studios is better for young designers, but spots are limited.) Here are a few off-the-map venues generating heat this season:
Cafe Rouge Who: Kim Ovtiz, Libertine Connected to the Hotel Pennsylvania (but no longer owned by the same company), Cafe Rouge was popular amongst musicians and artists in the '20s, '30s and '40s—Glen Miller, Duke Ellington, and the Andrews Sisters all performed there. Today, the space—completely empty, except for the whitewashed fixtures including a fountain—is owned by Vornado Realty Trust—a pretty massive real estate firm—and used for various events year-round. It has a very old school feel, but is big enough to hold a real crowd—perfect for fashion presentations. "We worked with Eyesight Production on finding a venue that was rustic, modern and cavernous, but also a part of New York history," says Ovitz, who's showing there on February 6.
Chez André Who: Gilded Age Menswear label Gilded Age will show its collection at André Saraiva and Andre Balazs's scenester nightclub in the Standard East Village on February 5. "It has a raw and industrial feel with wall graphite, exposed pipes, and vents," says Gilded Age's Stefan Miljanic. "It seemed like a perfect set for our 'Raid Warrior' theme." There are sure to be plenty of Fashion Week after parties there, too.
Baryshnikov Arts Center Who: Tia Cibani, Tocca, Rita Vinieris With several different studio and theater spaces available, Baryshnikov is an easy spot for designers, smack in between Lincoln Center and Milk Studios on the west side of the city. "The concrete architecture, comprising four large studios and a theater, makes it a popular venue for a variety of events," says Kristen Miles, a spokesperson for the venue. Tocca designer Emma Fletcher, who will present her collection there on February 8, saw it as a place to create a more dramatic scene. "Whereas spring 2013 was all about openness and light, this season is darker and we needed a space that could communicate that," she says. "We wanted theater lights for dramatic effect and the space came with the ability to blackout and create a different, darker feel."
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