The Blizzard Casts Its Pall on Fashion Week

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Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Tomorrow, Fashion Week officially kicks off its last season in the Bryant Park tents, which means the white wall of snow falling outside our office right now could not have come at a worse time. Designers and Fashion Week organizers usually scramble to polish runway samples and fit models down to the very last minute before shows. But with so many flight cancellations and so few cars on Manhattan streets right now, many shows won't go on quite as planned.

But, they will go on. IMG spokesman Zach Eichman said IMG has been setting up the tents in Bryant Park for the last ten days, and that as of a couple hours ago the roads and sidewalks were clear. "It certainly is inclement weather, but no one overcomes inclement weather like New York City," he noted. "We have a temporary structure that’s in place now and as long as we can get things to and from it, we can set up inside of it." He said they will make sure the steps aren't icy, the sidewalks are clear, and people are warm tomorrow. "The heat's on!"

However, Seventh House PR/Showroom Seven's Matt Kays was not as calm. "It’s been crazy," he told us this afternoon. He canceled Nary Manivong's presentation this morning after suddenly receiving calls that models would be unable to make it owing to the storm. "I mean I don’t even know how we’re supposed to get to our production walk-throughs — where all the designers go and walk backstage with all the tent people," he said. "They’re supposed to start in an hour."

We told him IMG seemed unconcerned with the weather. "I saw a postal truck this morning when it wasn’t even snowing as hard as it is now, not being able to move anywhere. I’m like, how can you do business as usual?" he replied. "We’re on 27th and Eleventh, and there’s, like, no cars coming down Eleventh Avenue right now." He didn't know when — or if — he'd get any cars this afternoon.

Models typically get a car and go to back-to-back castings and fittings during and leading up to Fashion Week. But can't they just take the subway? "Once they get out of the subway? You can like hear the wind from inside our office," Kays said. Moe Boualaphanh over at Marilyn modeling agency confirmed fittings and go-sees are delayed. "I have been up since 5:30 a.m. changing, arranging flights," she said over email, noting models are also missing non-runway jobs owing to the blizzard. "Another thing, phones not working because of the snow. Girls have had phone problems because they are using them outside. They forget that snow is WATER!"

Though Manivong's show has been rescheduled for next Wednesday, Kays is worried about Charlotte Ronson, who shows Friday at 8 p.m. "Charlotte Ronson was expecting the last 25 percent of the collection to be shipped today. Fed Ex is saying it’ll still be sent, but I don’t know how it’s going to be sent to Manhattan," he said. Ronson's label is big in Japan. "Our entire Japanese press team and a lot of the Japanese press are scheduled to arrive in New York tomorrow morning. I’m not sure if they’re still able to fly in." That could open up the front row for — gasp — bloggers. Already some seats for Cut reporters for other shows have been moved up entire rows.

Stephen Lee from Next model management said the flight cancellations were mostly affecting jobs unrelated to Fashion Week. "The major casting aren’t going to happen until the shows are going to start," he explained. He said BCBG's lineup was all set for their 9 a.m. time slot tomorrow, as was Jason Wu's for his 1 p.m. show on Friday. "The only major concern is disrobing girls from their jackets and putting them into dresses. But if they can’t do to that by now then they shouldn’t be models."

"Some magazines are taking advantage of the weather and actually using the blizzard as a concept for stories," Lee added. We said that must be hard on the models. "No," he replied. So they can do photo shoots in the blizzards, but they can't take the subway to fittings and go-sees today. Makes perfect sense.