A runway hit
For a such a big undertaking, the introduction of last week’s Tent at Boston Fashion Week flowed as smoothly as a bolt of silk charmeuse, with the occasional minor snag. Friday night’s grand finale was proof that a properly staged show in the tent could feel as slick as any in New York. Daniela Corte, who produced a sophisticated fashion show last year without a tent, plunged into her new surroundings with smart styling - the uniform choppy blond wigs on all her models was an inspired move - and a collection that showed her growing range as a designer.
Corte’s show, the final of the week, was a look at her Spring/Summer 2012 offerings. Moving well beyond the swimsuits and wraps that she built her reputation on, Corte, along with her creative director Ricardo Rodriguez, showed evening dresses constructed of flowing jersey, skin-tight silk, and gauzy chiffon, as well as flirty tight pencil skirts for daytime. The highlight of her collection was a fresh take on color blocking that paired solids with prints, adding a twist to a trend that continues to grow. Oddly, the one area where Corte faltered was swimwear. A series of bikinis constructed of fruit-print fabric placed oversize strawberries and pineapples on unfortunate places on her models.
Now that the week is over, it’s time to look at a few areas that could be improved next year. As Edwina Kluender, director of public relations at the Mandarin Oriental, where the tent was situated, said: “It’s baby steps this year. We’re learning.’’
1. Control the climate: It was unfortunate that the tent’s debut coincided with an unusually humid Indian summer. During opening night, guests desperately fanned themselves with anything in sight and perspired their way through shows. Sweaty is not a good look for anyone. A space with hot lights and that many bodies needs to breathe.
2. Hold your applause please: Experienced symphony audiences know that you don’t applaud between movements, but only at the end of the piece. Similarly, fashion show audiences should hold their applause until the models take their final stroll on the catwalk. Often, audiences at the tent applauded after every outfit, distracting from the flow and timing of the models.
3. Edit, edit, edit: A fashion show should serve as a highlights reel for the designer’s strongest pieces. But in some cases (I’m not naming names, but you know who you are), it seemed as if local designers felt compelled to show everything in the workroom. Keep in mind that attention spans are shrinking, not growing.
4. Take a seat: With a 250-person capacity, seating in the tent was tight in some cases, and oddly empty in others. In New York, an overflow crowd is given an opportunity to stand at the back of the room, with possibility of occupying the seats of no-shows. Boston should try a similar approach with lower-demand shows. Put the word out at local fashion schools that standing is an option, and avoid empty seats.
5. Take advantage of the space: A number of designers opted not to show at the tent, most likely because the $2,000 price tag scared them away. Open the tent up for a full day of shows on Saturday and Sunday, offering a reduced price to designers who opt out of a prime-time show. Perhaps it will help them see the advantages of bringing their work to such a well-organized and professional venue.