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New York Fashion Week continues to use offbeat NYC locales as venues

This year, shows will reach new heights—Hamilton Heights

Inside the RKO Hamilton Theater
After the Final Curtain

This week, fashion powerhouse Alexander Wang sent out an invitation to his Fall Fashion Week show, indicating that the seminal event for his namesake line will be happening not in Bryant Park or Lincoln Center, or even a neighborhood where there’s precedence for such happenings, but in Hamilton Heights. The invite is a hard one to score, but the folks at Vogue are, of course, privy and say that the all-important piece of paper doesn’t indicate a venue, but merely an intersection: 146th and Broadway.

Sleuths at Vogue and Harlem Bespoke agree that of the handful of venues in the area—including the improbable Key Food and Apollo Pharmacy—it’s the abandoned RKO Hamilton Theater where Wang will most likely be setting the scene. The historic building, opened in 1913, has sat unused for decades. The building’s exterior became a New York City landmark in 2000 meaning it remains relatively unchanged from its glory days as a vaudeville theater and one of New York’s first talking picture venues—but the interior, not so much.

Inside RKO Hamilton Theater
After the Curtain

The building has fallen into various states of disrepair since it was closed as a theater in 1958. It’s since served as a sports arena, disco, and a church, and its lobby was transformed into retail space in 1995.

In 2012, real estate honcho Ben Ashkenazy acquired the crumbling venue and the building next door for $19 million with plans to convert the neighboring space into apartments. The Landmarks Preservation Commission okayed the scheme back in 2014, but the plan’s gone dormant since. Perhaps Ashkenazy is expressing a new intent for the venue by allowing Wang in.

Suffice to say, the fashion elite have become more dexterous in their wont to venture outside of their areas of comfort. Magnetic names in the fashion arena have begun to stray from the big top tents of wherever Fashion Week is held now in favor of leveraging more interesting locations across New York City. Remember Kanye West’s (disastrous) Yeezy Season 4 show at Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island? Or Heron Preston’s showing in the Department of Sanitation’s (awesome) new salt shed on Spring Street?

Down at St. John’s Terminal, the old terminus for the elevated rail we now call the High Line, Skylight Group has partnered with IMG for NYFW: The Shows. On the same industrial floorplate designers like Rag & Bone, Hugo Boss, and Philip Lim have shown at Skylight Clarkson North. Embracing in-transition industrial spaces, Dior and Alexander Wang have also shown at Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Hugo Boss has showed at Skylight Clarkson Sq at St. John’s Terminal.
Allan Zepada courtesy of Skylight Group
Rag & Bone has also showed at Skylight Clarkson Sq at St. John’s Terminal.
Courtesy of Skylight Group

Givenchy created a makeshift runway of shipping palates for their first New York City show, staged at Pier 26.

A photo posted by Vogue (@voguemagazine) on

Alexander Wang seems to be leading the caravan when it comes to exploring the city, but designers are still opting for a change of scene. This coming Fashion Week, Kate Spade will show at the Russian Tea Room on West 57th Street, Tory Burch will take over the Whitney Museum, and Fendi will show at the Fulton Market Building in the South Street Seaport. Some edgier designers have yet to reveal where they’re showing. One last place of note: this year, at regular ol’ Fashion Week venue Pier 59, Kanye West will be showing.

Four Freedoms Park

Roosevelt Island, E Rd., New York, NY