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Boston Fashion Week Gets Big Push

A week’s worth of runway shows and events have an official home and big backing this year.

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BOSTON’S FASHION PUSH: Build a tent and they will come? Boston Fashion Week — usually a yin-yang combination of earnest academic panel discussions and boozy, late-night runway shows — is getting an official home and big backing this year. Major sponsors, most prominently The Shops at Prudential and the Mandarin Oriental, have stepped up to fund a 250-seat tent located in the heart of the Back Bay’s luxury shopping district. The tent will host a week’s worth of runway shows and events, beginning Friday and ending Sept. 30. “Up until now it’s been the community fending for itself,” says Jay Calderin, founder and executive director of Boston Fashion Week. It’s likely the event will do more to generate buzz and drive Back Bay retail traffic than generate wholesale orders, yet several local designers have steadily nurtured businesses, including eveningwear designer Michael DePaulo, who sells at the city’s Saks Fifth Avenue among other doors, and Daniela Corte, who scored a coupe by getting two suits in Sports Illustrated swimsuit Bible last year. Corte plans to open her first retail store on Newbury Street this fall. Calderin hopes Fashion Week will help graduates of the area’s seven fashion programs anchor here, rather than automatically decamping for New York. “You may get to the point where having a showroom in New York makes sense, but thanks to the state of technology and communications you can be a designer anywhere,” he notes. Five recent graduates from local art and design schools, who went through several rounds of vetting by their professors, will get a group show called The Launch.