This year, New York Fashion Week kicks off Sept. 6, but things are already heating up. That is, when it comes to who will and will not show their collections at Hudson Yards, New York's largest real estate development, funded and chaired by controversial billionaire Stephen Ross.
Stephen Ross made headlines nationwide on Aug. 7 when it was revealed that he was hosting a Hamptons fundraiser to support President Donald Trump, with tickets for the luncheon going for as much as $250,000. (The event raised $13 million for Trump's reelection campaign.) People were quick to point out—and boycott—the number of companies Ross is an investor in, most notably Equinox and SoulCycle.
Ross, however, is also the main man behind Hudson Yards, where according to The Daily Beast, several NYFW shows are set to take place. Although the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has not confirmed which of the 80 designers slated to present would be showing there, two have already made it public that they're switching venues.
Upon the news breaking, Prabal Gurung immediately pulled out of showing his collection at The Vessel, a public structure at Hudson Yards. "I was previously in conversation with Hudson Yards' The Vessel as the venue for my brand's upcoming 10-year show during NYFW. When I heard about this fundraiser, I chose to pull my participation," Gurung tweeted.
"We hadn't confirmed anything yet, however we were in direct contact and conversation with the team there and we were keen to partner," he continued. "Removing our brand and selves from this is my choice and that is my decision. I am not expecting anyone else to do it, however it was the right thing to do, for ME, and I do want to speak out to create transparency and awareness."
Now, Rag & Bone is also deciding to part ways with Hudson Yards. The brand announced it has pulled its show from The Shed at Hudson Yards, according to WWD. A new venue for the show has yet to be announced.
But Hudson Yards isn't NYFW's only problem. On Aug. 9, Out magazine's Phillip Picardi brought to light in an op-ed piece for Business of Fashion that Ross' wife, Kara Ross, is a current member of the CFDA. Upon hearing the news, Fallon jewelry designer Dana Lorenz withdrew her membership, writing on Instagram, "After many years of membership I will no longer participate if a woman that funds the current administration remains on the board."
Dear Mr. Ford, Mr. Kolb, members and board of the CFDA, Effective immediately, I regretfully but with great certainty, cancel my membership to the Council of Fashion Designers of America. After many years of membership I will no longer participate if a woman that funds the current administration remains on the board. I will no longer be a part of what seems to be allowing a pay for play, money over merit arrangement with someone that clearly wants to advance an agenda that is hurting many businesses large and small with this trade war. I do not feel her views speak for me as a member and I will not allow her to make decisions on my behalf. I thought about this decision well, and although I appreciated support in the beginnings of my career, I no longer feel the membership represents me. I will fondly remember hearing I was nominated for a CFDA Award, I will gratefully remember my time as a CFDA/VOGUE Fashion Fund nominee, and I will always be thankful for your ear, Steven. However, after emailing you about concerns as to the board seat of Mrs. Ross I was met with a response that felt very much like the pacifying public statements from SoulCycle and Equinox. I was told “not our problem” and to focus my energies elsewhere. So I will. The annual membership dues and future high priced tickets to awards will be spent fighting what this administration is destroying, specifically equal rights and climate change. Yesterday, while Mrs. Ross was putting finishing touches on her fundraiser, I was making sure my sobbing housekeeper had her entire family’s documents in order, a woman with 3 years citizenship living in fear. It is not enough to post rainbows on your Instagram feed. Do something. As a side note, the Fashion Fund is irrelevant unless it is entirely made up of sustainable designers. FALLON JEWELRY
A post shared by FALLON JEWELRY® (@fallonjewelry) on Aug 9, 2019 at 10:47am PDT
No other designers have confirmed that their shows will take place at Hudson Yards during September's NYFW or have made it known that they won't. The CFDA released the official NYFW Spring 2020 schedule in July, but show locations, especially for more well-known designers, aren't typically made public in advance.