A New York Fashion Week of firsts and lasts

A New York Fashion Week of firsts and lasts
A model walks the runway at VFILES fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2015 at The Pavilion at Lincoln Center in New York City.

NEW YORK - Celebrities are jetting in, gluten-free cocktails are concocted and designers are unveiling their 2015 fall/winter collections: a frozen New York kicks off its multi-million-dollar Fashion Week Thursday.

Hot on the heels of haute couture shows in Paris, the fashion glitterati is flocking to admire the best and brightest in US design, where young talent rubs shoulders with fashion barons Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.

But it's not just the jet-set tripping through snow on stilettos. Fashion is big business in New York, where twice yearly fashion weeks generate nearly US$900 million (S$1.23 billion) for America's biggest city.

Here's what you need to know as more than 270,000 people watch the 350 shows that kick off the 2015 fall/winter season before the juggernaut shifts to London, Milan and back to Paris.

CELEBRITY SHOE-IN

Fresh from his on-stage protest against Beyonce not winning album of the year at the Grammys, rap star Kanye West makes his New York fashion debut on Thursday with a collection for Adidas.

MOVING ON

Fashion house Oscar de la Renta shows its first collection by British-born Peter Copping, appointed creative director shortly before the Dominican-born master designer died in October.

MOVING OUT

It's the last time the Lincoln Center will host Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week after a New York state judge ruled that it disrupts an adjacent park.

Most designers have already left, holding catwalk shows in hotels or prominent buildings across the city, but for now organizers are keeping quiet on where the new home will be come September.

HOT TALENT

The big names are Alexander Wang, Jason Wu, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Diane Von Furstenberg, Donna Karan, Prabal Gurung, Vera Wang, Michael Kors, Victoria Beckham and Zac Posen.

Dozens of young designers are snapping at their heels, among them Thomas Wylde Maison, Ready to Fish and Thaddeus O'Neil.

VARIETY SHOW

Inspiration will be as eclectic as ever. Tommy Hilfiger has chosen the 60s and 70s, Tory Burch has eyes for Marrakesh, Michael Kors mined night and day, Jason Wu is hot for desire and Marchesa an opium dream.

MEN'S ROOM

Men will be overshadowed by women for the last time. In July, New York gets its own men's fashion week, joining the likes of London, Paris and Milan that already showcase fashion for the sexes separately.

BOTTOM LINE

Fashion is one of the largest industries in New York and generates $887 million in economic activity, employing 180,000 people and coughing up nearly $2 billion in tax revenue a year.

Fashion Week brings about $547 million in direct visitor spending, which is more than the 2014 Super Bowl, the New York Marathon and the US Open tennis championship.

BOTTOMS UP

Vodka company Ciroc, for which music mogul Sean Combs is brand ambassador, has concocted three official cocktails, and to honor the carb-conscious fashion brat pack, they're gluten free.

DISEASE, GUNS AND BOMBS

British supermodel with a temper Naomi Campbell is hosting a charity fashion show and clothing auction to raise money for Ebola victims.

The hemorrhagic fever gets a second look when charities including the International Rescue Committee host a pop-up lounge to showcase a protective suit for medics who treat Ebola patients.

Donna Karan and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg host an event to spotlight efforts to end gun crime and save lives.

The Peace Bomb project, which fashions unexploded ordnance from the Vietnam War into jewelry, is to showcase its designs on the sidelines.

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