Say you always wanted to attend the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week shows but didn’t have the right connection. Now, you can indulge your inner fashionista and support up-and-coming designers right here in the neighborhood at what’s being billed as New York’s most intimate runway. L.E.S. Runway runs through Oct. 2 at Grand Opening, 139 Norfolk St. (near Rivington). By day, the space serves as a pop-up shop selling the designers’ creations, by night, the catwalk is primed, the models are primped and the champagne is flowing.
Husband and wife team Marc Maleh and Cheryl Carr-Maleh conceived the idea and collaborated with Ben Smyth, Grand Opening’s founder and owner. “We wanted to offer New York City-based designers access to the community. A lot of designers don’t have the means or the platform to show their work,” Maleh says.
L.E.S. Runway is a way of offering that access and exposure if you’re not part of the Fashion Week scene quite yet.
“We wanted to attract newer designers, who may not have a venue for their lines, or have the opportunity to sell to people who come to their show and like what they see,” says Carr-Maleh, who works as a retail development manager at Macy’s and curated the show with her husband. There are three shows a night presented to an intimate audience, while designers sell about three different styles from their collections in the pop-up shop. “We haven’t gotten much sleep,” says Maleh says, who leads a digital design team at ad shop Wieden & Kennedy.
Seventy-five designers applied to be included in the shows; 20 were chosen. A Kickstarter campaign raised $9,500 in funding this summer. Sponsors include Martini & Rossi and TIGI, a beauty and haircare marketer that’s providing two stylists and a makeup person each night, as well as a gift bag. Each attendee gets a glass of bubbly.
To get your fashion fix on, Grand Opening is offering a special promotion to readers of The Lo-Down: Until Saturday, you can get 50 percent off two tickets to L.E.S. Runway shows. Go to grandopening.org and enter the promotional code “runway_lo-down” to purchase tickets.
Ben Smyth, founder of Grand Opening, hopes to make L.E.S. Runway an annual event with Maleh and Carr-Maleh.