Behind NY's catwalks, legal contracts abound

Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:04pm EST
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By Erin Geiger Smith

(Reuters) - Behind the scenes of New York Fashion Week, reams of legal contracts bind together designers, models, hair and make-up artists, photographers, stagehands, lighting technicians and even celebrities flaunting their clothes.

These days fashion contracts can range from a premium price of up to $65,000 to rent the main runway at Lincoln Center where the top designers tend to show, to a smaller designer's DJ contract including a clause that the DJ must have the right to publicly broadcast the music they pump out during the show.

"No one ever sees all of the business and legal work that goes into creating these shows," Susan Scafidi, director of Fordham Law School's Fashion Institute, said. "There are reams of contracts that have to happen."

Below is a peek of the kinds of negotiations that take place in order for each of the 90-plus shows to happen.

THE TENTS: The fashion shows most familiar to the public are those at the IMG event at Lincoln Center, where tent rents range from $16,500 to $65,000. Contracts for these venues are generally non-negotiable, and, like most Fashion Week-related agreements, subject to secrecy. The IMG contract, Scafidi said, "has confidentiality written all over it."

Some of the standard provisions cover lighting, seating and how long the designer will have access to the tents. Tent contracts also require that literature for each show includes the event's full name, and that a designer's sponsors don't conflict with the week's official event sponsors. With Diet Pepsi as a sponsor this year, for instance, Diet Coke would likely not be approved.

MODELS: While fees and other details are typically included in a designer's contract with models, the issue lawyers on both sides worry about most is how the models' images will be used in advertising, social media and other outlets.

Designers usually want to be able to use the images "in perpetuity." Models' representatives try to limit that contract language to a more defined period, typically six months, said Ali Grace, deputy director of business and legal at model management company Wilhelmina International Ltd.   Continued...

<p>A model presents a creation at the Reem Acra Fall/Winter 2012 collection show during New York Fashion Week, February 13, 2012. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri</p>