NY Fashion Week: An Unglamorous Affair

Wednesday, 23 September 2009 | Tags: , ,

Kristina and I are back from New York Fashion Week. We saw a few big designer shows and got to stargaze and rub shoulders with the likes of Victoria Beckham, Mischa Barton, Kathleen Turner and that Countess from the Real Housewives of New York. Sound glamorous for a couple of cable TV hosts from the Great White North? Well, it wasn't.

Even though I’m not all that impressed by celebrity and glitz to begin with, I must admit I was excited about attending one of the world’s biggest fashion events of the year. I love clothes and I love art. What could be better than a melding of the two in a truly theatrical event?

We attended shows by Carolina Herrara (got to interview thedesigner herself, now there’s class), Yigal, Lacoste and Rucci to namea few. I often watch Fashion File on television and wonder how those unknowns in the front row got their seats. I was about to become one of them!

But what I found was, even though we were accredited media with a legitimate interest in fashion (check your local listings for our new show Anna & Kristina’s Beauty Call on W Network in November), and even though we were also specifically invited by the designers, getting a space to stand, let alone sit, was like being booked on an oversold flight in the middle of Christmas season during a snowstorm. And you’re flying coach. And all the other passengers are pre-pubescent girls who, if they don’t get home to see their boyfriends “like, last week,” they will “just die.”

IF you have an invitation, you spend about 45 minutes in line for whichever show you’re attending so the PR people can double-check that your name’s on the list. All the while, other members of the “fashion press” (bloggers as far as I could tell) are checking out your outfit.

When you go to Fashion Week you do feel pressure to look good. And that means wearing your nice shoes. The heels. The big ones.

Then you get a seating assignment. Beware if yours has the letter “s” in it. It means you’ll be standing with the wannabes.

You wait for another half hour or so in a sort of holding pen before you’re allowed in. Then there’s a lot of pushing and shoving for a teensy spot at the back. Lucky you if you actually get a seat.

And every show we attended started exactly 30 minutes late and lasted less than 10 minutes. Seems like a lot of hassle and foot ache, doesn’t it?

At one of the shows, we got a front row seat (only because Lord Somethingorother and his Lady didn’t show up) and there were gift bags on the seats. Finally! Some respect! And to my delight, inside the bag they were giving away good size containers of that skin care cream RéVive I’ve been dying to try but can’t afford. Unfortunately by the end of the show someone had stolen Kristina’s. How uncivilized. (Besides, I was hoping to steal hers myself.)

It was fascinating to see the runway models up close. They’re like gazelles — all long and skinny, and each with the same gait down the catwalk. And they all had the same look on their faces: like huffy children. Or maybe that was terror…

I asked a regular fashion show goer why designers didn’t have the models smile or show some personality. Her response was “half of them are kids, they’re away from their families, and many of them can’t speak English. They’re walking half naked straight into the glare of a pack of cameras at the end of the runway. Wouldn’t you be terrified?”

It made me realize supermodels are called super for a reason: it’s one thing to be a very young woman who happens to be tall and skinny with features in the right place. It’s entirely something different to be a grown woman who is blessed with extreme physical beauty, presence, confidence, maturity and a personality. I was at a party with Christie Turlington last year. Holy crap. Now SHE’S a supermodel. Next time, I’m going to hold out for shows with models like her.

But is it about the models or the clothes? Isn’t the model just the canvas? Or perhaps beautiful clothes are brought to life on the body of a beautiful person. In my mind, you can’t have one without the other.

And I do admit — after all the pushing and shoving and talking our way into shows we weren’t invited to — I did love some of the designs. Most notable was the fact that it’s the young designers who seem to be drawing the most attention. They’re designing clothing that is wearable AND beautiful. Alexander Wang rocks. And you don’t have to be a supermodel to make his clothes come to life.

Thankfully my love of beautiful clothes was not permanently affected by all the fashion show line-ups. My feet, on the other hand, were very cranky by the end of the week. The heel of one of my beloved Chloe shoes actually broke off from too much standing. Or maybe it was from the tumble I took down the stairs at Bryant Park…but that’s another story.







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