Fashion designer bids to save NY garment workers

NEW YORK, Feb 6, 2008 (AFP) -American fashion designer Nanette Lepore on Wednesday presented her fall collection 2008 along with an appeal to save the garment industry which is faced with "extinction" due to rising development.

Lepore is among the few remaining designers who can afford to have a workshop in Manhattan's garment district, located around 37th-39th Streets and 8th Avenue, where rising rents are forcing the industry to move to the Bronx, Queens, and even abroad to China and Peru.


Nanette Lepore Backstage fashion show fall 2008

In a flyer handed out to all who attended her show during Fashion Week -- buyers, reporters, boutique owners, celebrities -- the designer denounced rising costs which are gradually damaging the historical nature of the area.

"The collection you see on the runway today was designed, cut and sewn in New York City's Garment District. Yet here in the fashion capital of our country, the factories, trim and fabric shops, are on the verge of extinction," it said.

"These businesses are currently pushed out by the redevelopment of the neighborhood. We need your support to keep American fashion flourishing in the Garment District," it said urging readers to contact New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"Without these resources, thousands of livelihoods will be at risk. Future generations of designers will no longer have a place to realize their dreams."

Her fall collection is austere, containing hints of both the birth of the garment district and the US recession that most fear is looming, with tailored Scottish flannels over straight, hip-hugging skirts that extend to mid-calf, and astrakhan jackets paired with satin cocktail dresses.

Brazilian designer Carlos Miele decided that times of crisis called for targeting the richest customers so he went heavy on furs, decorating a three-quarter length gray jacket with a silver fox fur collar and cuffs.

Otter skin shirts are embellished with fox or wolf fur. In the daytime, yellow satin dresses in sunflower prints reign, with very short handknit sweaters and playing off the asymmetry with wide collars that tumble off the shoulder.

For nighttime, the Brazilian designer showed off movie-star style, with long gala dresses that skim the body's curves.

by Paola Messana

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