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Why Aren't Designers Returning to Lincoln Center?

Major labels are spurning the venue for off-site choices.

Despite its best efforts for a revamp, it's not looking like a strong season for Lincoln Center.

For the second season running, the tents are missing some of their most storied designers. Zac Posen, Michael Kors and Vera Wang are all showing their spring collections at off-site locations.

Perhaps most tellingly, CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg will be showing for the second season at Spring Studios instead of at Lincoln Center. Last season, the designer rationalized that she needed a special space for her 40th anniversary runway celebration, though the smaller venue forced her to cut down her guest list drastically. She indicated that she would return to the tents this September, but is again on this season's schedule to show at Spring Studios. (Reps for DVF have not responded to requests for comment.)

This is unfortunate news for IMG Fashion, which had a tumultuous season in February after William Morris Endeavor and Silver Lake Partners acquired its parent company, IMG Worldwide Holdings Inc., for more than $2.3 billion in late 2013. IMG has owned Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week since 2001, and many have complained in recent seasons about the increasing circus-like atmosphere of the venue.

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At the end of last season, Nanette Lepore carefully suggested that perhaps there were people who stood to "benefit nicely" by showing at venues other than Lincoln Center. IMG's contract ends with Lincoln Center at the end of the February 2015 season, and as the CFDA continues its effort to control the Fashion Week schedule (most recently with its acquisition of the Fashion Calendar) and to develop its own site for Fashion Week, it's not unreasonable to guess that it might be hoping to gain control of MBFW as well.