There occurs annually in New York a pseudo-secret semi-elite event that we call Fashion Week. Suddenly, near the end of winter, the free ice skating rink disappears and the entire surface area of Bryant Park is covered with mysterious white tents that are surrounded by barriers, severe-looking security guards, and paparazzi. The New York plebeians generally glimpse small evidences of this exclusive occurrence in the giraffe-like models that strut in designer double zero-sized jeans and four inch stilettos from the corners of Bryant Park into the varied coffee shops of Manhattan. Usually, I roll my eyes at these waif-like freaks of nature and wait to read about Fashion Week in the Sunday Styles section of the Times. This year, though, in honor of research for my fabulous blog (and thanks to a friend's offer to keep her company), I decided to step into the esoteric white tents and experience Fashion Week first hand.
First things first. What the $@!%@ do I wear to FASHION WEEK? I had received a run-down of the designers' collections we were to see from my friend and the only piece I had from either of their former collections was an off-white pair of Michael Kors pants from a long-gone Spring collection circa 2007. Obviously, that would NOT do. Unfortunately, I was not seeing a Betsey Johnson or Max Azria show, for which I could clothe all of Manhattan. What does a girl do? Raid your neighbors' closets, that's what a girl does. Thanks to Rachael (the upstairs one, not the pregnant one), we put together a sensible DVF dress, skinny jeans, and a beige pair of platform Cole Haans (which I am considering stealing). When I was finally dressed, I met my friend and Fashion Week companion at the edge of Bryant Park and began the walk into one of the tents. Here's the thing about my friend. She's fabulously talented, gorgeous, sweetly humble . . . and kind-of a television star. So, as we walked with her publicist (or whoever the slick guy in charge of our transportation was) to our designated tent, we were stopped every few seconds for a photo op - paparazzi style. I slyly managed to slip out of most of the photos, but I was taken aback at the astounding number of pushy people with large cameras that were literally lurking between the tents (obviously trying to snap as many celeb photos as possible). Ew. We were finally ushered into our designated tent, up a set of dark stairs, and into a small room that was buzzing with people.
When I got my bearings and checked my not-so-designer coat, I was surprised to see how many people looked like expensively-clothed well-manicured average folks. And there were only about twenty of us in the box. I started to feel a little more at ease. I guess I had been expecting those towering model-types I saw on the street. It dawned on me that those folks would be soon coming down the runway, not sitting in our box. It's like going to see American Ballet Theatre and expecting to see Julie Kent and her buddies in the audience instead of onstage in pointe shoes. Okay, first lesson of fashion week learned. We headed towards the back to the refreshment table to grab some coffee and scones (after I refused a mimosa - 10am, people, really?) and I casually asked where the runway was. A staff member pointed to the two windowed sides of the room and explained that Mr. Trump opens the curtains when the show is about to begin. Then we can see the runway. Hold, please. Mr. Who? I looked at my companion. "Yeah, apparently, this is Donald Trump's box. He should be up to the box between Michael Kors and Nanette Lepore to say hello and answer some questions". Okay . . . Alright. Glad I'm wearing cute shoes.
When the curtains opened, we took our seats on the benches and did a little people watching before the official show. The publicist that led us into the tent stood behind us and pointed out the different celebrities lining the runways. It was like a huge game of celebrity Where's Waldo. "There's Laura Linney in the blue suit", he said, "And to her left a few people over is Nina Garcia". "Ooh! There's Cheyenne Jackson toward the left", I said, joining in the game. They both looked at me. "Who's that?". Oh. I forgot. Not a musical theatre crowd. Luckily, loud house music started pumping through the speakers, the house lights dimmed, and the Michael Kors show began. It was thrilling! There were actually two runways and each look came down both, so we got to see each fabulous ensemble twice. I must say that Michael Kors' new line is SO wearable: lots of light earthy tones and cuddly knits. The models glided down in beiges and light blues paired with furs and sunglasses. I picked out the favorites that I could never afford in a fabulous fashion fog. I was surprised when the show ended after only about twenty minutes and all of the models made one more loop around both runways. Michael Kors followed them waving at the audience. Then the curtains shut and everyone began to stretch and chat. Wow, that was fast, I thought.
I stood to grab a second cup of coffee (hey, it was only about 10:30am) and was practically blocked by a growing crowd. I saw the red tie before I saw the rest of him. Mr. Trump was, of course, the cause of the commotion. The first thought I had was that he was much taller than I had imagined. My second thought was that the hair was exactly as I had imagined. He graciously said hello to all his box's occupants, apologized for having to leave before he could do a question and answer session (I guess it's very hard and hectic to be that rich and famous), and left us with some woman named Kate Something that was (according to everyone else) a well-known fashionista. My friend and I were the only people in the room that didn't ooh and aah when this Kate woman sat down and started answering questions. But we did get some valuable information. Here's the skinny according to Fashionista Kate. Olive is the must-have color for the season. Anything military inspired is also in. If you can do both olive and military, you're golden. Well, or olive. Not golden. She gave us a list of stores where we could find vintage clothes in Manhattan and recommended what to buy and what not to buy from eBay. Informative, but not that exciting. I was looking forward to the Nanette Lepore show at 11.
Eventually, the curtains on the other side of the box opened and the Nanette show started. While Michael Kors was wearable, Nanette Lepore was very me. Her gypsy-inspired feminine looks flowed down the runway and I fell in love. Everything was brightly colored and frilly. Just like I like it! I even decided to try to copy the models' hair when I went home. Her Fall 2010 looks were rich with deep reds, burnt oranges, fitted coats, and flirty green plaids. The looks were so cute and so fun that I was proud to be amongst the first to see these beautiful new designs. I suddenly felt immensely cool. Or at least marginally cool by association. The show ended and I happily stretched and asked an employee to get my coat. I was officially on a fashion high.
As we walked out of the box, the woman that retrieved my coat reminded us not to forget to pick up our gift bags on our way out. Gift bags? This day kept getting better. We followed another publicist (this time female and a little less slick) to the front of the tent and were handed two very huge very heavy gift bags. Each. We discreetly surveyed the loot. Makeup, an umbrella, leather key chain, perfume, zone bars, a tote bag, and an iron were visible on the top of the loot. Really, fashion week folks? An iron? Oh well, I guessed I could use one, anyway. Talk about swag. I could get used to this famous-by-association stuff. My friend and I trudged toward the exit, weighted down by our bags of gifts. She looked at me questioningly, "Are you headed anywhere right now?". I shook my head no. "Would you at all be interested in going to the gifting suites with me?", she asked. Ha. Would I ever. Yeah, folks . . . fashion week rocks.