- Associated Press - Sunday, September 11, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Liz Lange thinks about that day every time New York Fashion Week rolls around. Every time there is a crisp fall day with clear skies. Every time there is a burning smell in the air.

Lange was preparing to hold the first-ever runway show for maternity clothes within the famous Bryant Park tents on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. “It was a date I was looking forward to and working on all summer. A dream come true,” she said.

Then there was some buzz backstage about a small plane hitting the World Trade Center. That seemed so far away and irrelevant, recalled the designer during a recent email interview, until all the camera crews started bolting.

“I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but this was before Blackberrys and iPhones, and information just didn’t travel that fast. We had no idea what was happening,” Lange said.

Of course, now we know so much. Terrorists attacked and killed almost 3,000 people that day. The rest of Fashion Week was canceled that year, and the business of luxury fashion struggled.

But the message the industry carries into the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks is one of resilience.

“It’s very American to continue on,” said Tommy Hilfiger, who has his show scheduled for Sunday night, his traditional time slot. “It’s important to capture that spirit.”

Hilfiger also plans to make a donation to the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund.

Meanwhile, Diane von Furstenberg is making a donation to the September 11th Families’ Association in the name of each guest attending her show this year.

As president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the umbrella organization that helps set the international calendar of fashion weeks, von Furstenberg said she was committed to keeping the show slot she’s had for many years.

“The fact that it was on Sept. 11 was a little bit of a concern,” she said by telephone. “I had to ask myself, `How do we honor it?’ But my show is always on Sunday, and the best way to do it is to move on _ and remember.”

Ali Hewson, who created the Edun brand as a project for development in Africa, said she asked for a Sunday time slot this time around.

“We’ve shown on the anniversary before. We’ve always felt honored to be part of that New York spirit, which is so resilient, but still so much work has to be done to make a better future for everybody.”

Raul Melgoza, designer of the label Luca Luca, held his show Friday, but couldn’t help think of Sept. 11.

“Yes, it’s been on my mind, especially because I live in Tribeca, right near where it happened,” Melgoza said. “So I am constantly reminded of it. But we’re moving ahead. I think people are ready to move on.”

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