For the last few months of summer, the world of high fashion will be taking up residence on the sidewalks of Times Square. Poor sidewalks. They deserve a little style. Particularly on Broadway between 34th and 42nd. Those poor pathways have seen nothing but the likes of Payless and Candies for years (not to mention what's above them). Now, not to say they haven't relished a fleeting Louboutin or Manolo Blahnik from time to time, but for the most part, the sidewalks of the fashion district are a fashion wasteland. Sad, but true.
Imagine my surprise when, between shows, I wandered over to Broadway for an iced latte and happened upon a hot little Isaac Mizrahi in the middle of the street. And the dress wasn't on a person. It was draped over a chic grey mannequin strutting mid-step down Broadway toward Herald Square. I looked down Broadway and saw a line of similarly postured mannequins in different designer clothes. What a fabulous idea! Fashion in the fashion district! I grabbed a nearby flyer and headed down the "catwalk" to see the other designs.
All in all, there were a total of 32 designs stomping down Broadway that were conceived by an impressive mix of well known designers and up-and-coming art students. A very sparse Kenneth Cole "dress" made out of words (I can't describe it, you just have to see it) stood next to a more traditional frock from a few students at FIT. A neon Nanette Lepore (my favorite design of the collection) was directly in front of a leopard print Diane Von Furstenburg. It was a veritable feast of fashion. As I walked down the street, I found it most interesting that these designers had been forced to use materials that would withstand the elements. Fabric was, basically, out. Between the summer heat, rain, and the ignorant tourists disregarding the "Do Not Touch" signs, these well-known artists wisely chose to craft their frocks from plastic, metal, stones, twigs, bricks, tarps, and a random but ingeniously draped army green parachute (Victor Alfaro). One of the most inventive uses of materials (in my opinion) was from a team at the Parsons New School of Design that used stones, sticks, and what looked like twine to make a whimsical evening gown.
The Sidewalk Catwalk is only on Broadway until Labor day, so if you're going to go, make plans to do so in the next month or so. But, here's the good thing about it. It's free! And it's always there. Maybe you only see one design on your run to the subway. Well, that's one more design more than you would have seen, isn't it? Every bit of fashion helps, I think. I walked through the entire collection in about a half hour and then headed back uptown to recap and pick my favorites. On my way back, I saw tons of other folks enjoying the designs just as much as I did, many of them in Payless, Old Navy, and Heaven-Knows-What-designer-designs-for-Kmart. Ah, education. Who knows. One day, Joe Schmo polyester blend will purchase a smart little Jason Wu because he/she became acquainted with him on the sidewalk catwalk. A drop in the bucket toward the beautification of America. Thanks, designers.