We knew this was coming, but as of a recently reached settlement agreement between Lincoln Center and New York City, Lincoln Center is officially off-limits for Fashion Week. According to the proceeding, which was being heard in the Supreme Court of New York, following the Fall/Winter 2015 shows in February, use of Damrosch Park (a 2.4-acre space located at Amsterdam Avenue and West 62nd Street on the south side of the Metropolitan Opera House and west of the David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts) for non-park purposes has been outlawed, thereby prohibiting any possibility of Fashion Week renewing its contract with Lincoln Center, as contemplated in the original 2010 agreement. A five-year renewal would have allowed the fashion shows to stay put until 2020, or at least until Fashion Week's new home in Hudson Yard is completed.
According to the settlement: "IMG Fashion Week shall vacate the premises and remove all tents and other Fashion Week equipment from the park […] Under the Bloomberg administration the City allowed Lincoln Center free rein over Damrosch Park with no limitations on the number of private events it could hold in the public park." As a result, "The park had been taken over for up to ten months of the year by private revenue generating non-park use events."
The parties' settlement apparently aims to "further expand public access to the Park by not entering into agreements for commercial events substantially similar in natures, size and duration to Fashion Week and for which access is not generally available to the public." Moreover, "as a deterrent to any future events like Fashion Week the settlement contains language that allows the presiding judge, Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chan to issue a Temporary Restraining Order in the event Lincoln Center attempts to use the park for something like that again."
While this is certainly inconvenient for IMG, the fashion industry in New York has been shying away from showing at Lincoln Center for seasons. Instead, they've taken to Milk Eyebeam, and Spring studios, the Armory, and the Highline Hotel, among an array of other off-site locations, for a variety of reasons, including the fact that Lincoln Center has simply turned into a circus of fashion fans, making it less than appealing for designers and show-goers. Catherine Bennett, senior vice president and managing director for IMG, spoke to this point last year, telling the WSJ: “Fashion Week was becoming a zoo. What used to be a platform for established designers to debut their collections to select media and buyers has developed into a cluttered, often cost-prohibitive and exhausting period for our industry to effectively do business."