ABC's Troy McMullen reports from New York.
New York fashion week hits full stride today with shows from top designers such as Tory Burch, Michael Kors, and Anna Sui scheduled to hit the runways at Bryant Park.Yet, despite the glitz and glamour that accompanies the twice yearly New York event there is little disagreement among veterans of the trade, and those who cover it, that the downturn in high-end fashion is hitting fashion week hard. Under the tents at Bryant Park last night, Narciso Rodriguez pleased the assembled crowd of celebrities and fashion insiders with his typically minimalist evening gowns and day dresses. A major name in industry after designing a wedding dress for Carolyn Bessette Kennedy in 1996, Rodriguez gained a higher profile after designing the dress Michelle Obama wore on election night. But the designer’s financial plight underscores how many designers are struggling to balance the realities of the economic climate with their creative impulses. Rodriguez is making more dresses that sell for less than $1,000, below his more-typical price tags of $1,800. He has also signed a deal with eBay, known for bargains not luxury, to create a line that will be sold exclusively through the online marketplace. The line will sell for less than $350. Even U.S. sales of celebrity-licensed products are feeling the economic pinch. Sales in that category fell to $2.9 billion last year after peaking in 2006 at $3.5 billion, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. (The paper ticks off a list of shuttered celebrity brands that includes Jennifer Lopez, reality-television star Lauren Conrad, pop singer Mandy Moore and Nicky Hilton, Paris's sister.) "Every D-level celebrity who thought they could make a quick buck by designing a handbag or whatever is going to disappear," Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour tells The Journal. "And I think that's a good thing."