Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Competing Fashion Weeks Battle in St. Louis

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Competing Fashion Weeks Battle in St. Louis

Article excerpt

The term "St. Louis fashion" has rarely been used without derision, so the notion that the city might now host competing fashion weeks must be progress.

It's also an eerie conflict between two entities that by all outward appearances support the same cause.

Yet St. Louis Fashion Week is now in a face-off with an upstart Missouri Fashion Week, also based in St. Louis.

A cease and desist letter was drafted today.

"We are not Goliath, we didn't want to handle it this way," said Elizabeth Tucker, publisher of Alive Magazine and executive director of St. Louis Fashion Week. "We did everything we could think of for it not to come to this."

She said she had a simple request: "Change the name and join the team." Tucker said they had worked long and hard to establish a fashion week in St. Louis and to prove that it's sustainable. She said a new fashion week in the same town would essentially be profiting from their efforts.

"We are so supportive of anything to do with fashion," said Tucker, who noted that part of their mission is to promote a barrage of St. Louis fashion events. "But anyone coming in with a fashion week brand is someone capitalizing on what we have done to create fashion week. I hate to say it, but it's true."

The co-founder of Missouri Fashion Week, Cillah Hall, disagrees. Hall owns Xanadu Public Relations in St. Louis. She met with Tucker recently and says she was shocked that they couldn't come to an agreement. St. Louis is big enough for two fashion weeks, Hall said, and she feels that the competition will serve them both well. She is adamant about starting something new; Hall declined a conciliatory offer from Tucker to take a leadership position with St. Louis Fashion Week instead.

The inaugural Missouri Fashion Week is scheduled for Aug. 21-24. Meanwhile St. Louis Fashion Week, which just finished its spring season last week, will light up the runways again in late September.

"We didn't want to impede on Alive's fashion week," Hall said. "But when you're a magazine doing a fashion week, you're driven more by revenue. At the end of the day, advertisers influence what's on the runway, and there can be a lot of compromises."

Hall said that St. Louis Fashion Week had a heavy showing by boutiques and mall stores because it was more financially viable. She plans to put only Missouri designers on the runway, and she'll encourage boutique owners to come to the shows and participate in a pre- or post-show bazaar. But commercial fashions won't be shown on the stage, she said.

She said this is what would distinguish them from St. Louis Fashion Week, which has some of its presentations in the malls.

Hall was the force behind coordinating St. Charles Fashion Week, which was launched by Tom Hannegan at Street Scape Magazine four years ago, but she left after its 2012 season to launch Missouri Fashion Week. …

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