Sometime in August last year, I duped Alex Balk and Co. at Radaronline to let me go and cover NYFW for them. I never really expected them to agree, which was why I felt so nauseous for the rest of work that day that I spent most of the afternoon downing Pepto Bismol cocktails.
For the next month I prepped and researched and did interviews and organized invitations and schedules and outlined my outfits down to which eyeshadow I’d wear with which top. But when September rolled around and I hobbled into my first show—Michael Angel—in my too tall shoes with my too-big bag, all the planning went right out the window.
For most people, fashion week is like a mysterious, impenetrable zoo of pretty people and wackadoo clothes where editors and buyers point at peach-fuzzy models with their free hand and sip Cosmos or pet tiny Asian men with the other. It’s all a sideshow—a ridiculous pageant. It’s at once tantalizingly opulent and repulsively irrelevant. My perception of it leaned more towards the former, so during the entirety of the Michael Angel show while I sat on my little white seat and watched the parade of models I had only seen from Style.com glide down the runway in jeweled shoulder pads and printed sarongs, I was trying to ignore the looped track of “ackackackackack” playing in my head to scribble illegible notes for reports.
And oh—the reports! I learned that filing the 2-3 that was demanded a day would required me to type up copy in subway cars in between the 8-10 shows I’d see every day, and rush off to coffeeshops where I could find free wifi to email them off. The laptop, camera, cords, notebooks, recorders, stolen food and random swag (which always seemed to include shampoo bottles that could double as handweights) weighed at least thirty pounds. By Day 3, both my shoulders and hips had turned black and blue from knocking against my poor and abused Alexander Wang hobo—my first designer bag which I had bought in celebration right before the trip with all the money I had saved from a previous summer internship. By the end, the lining had ripped, the leather had stretched, and I had broken all of the zippers.
And the flats that I had so presumptuously left back in Berkeley haunted my dreams at night where I’d sleep comatosely for five hours, wake to the blare of my phone alarm, and stagger to the shower on numb and blistered feet. I’d grab a granola bar from the stash I had fortunately packed and knew it was the last “real” meal I’d have before I finished at ten at night. “But Connie,” you ask. “There’s always free food at the shows!” Well, while eating macaroons and sipping champagne amongst designer gowns sounds kind of delightful, it sounds much less delightful around seven o’clock, when all you’ve ingested is a packet of free biscuits and two cans of Bawls energy drink, official NYFW sponsor. (Side note:I’d dare you to find a “Bawls” joke that me and my haggard fashion friends hadn’t already made by the end of the week). I weighed myself on the day I left and discovered that I had lost 8 pounds. Best diet ever? (JOKE).
These parts of Fashion Week blew. And the fact that I was too-eager and too-stupid contributed to a lot of minor tragedies (for example, I found myself caught in a thunderstorm without an umbrella on my way to Brian Reyes and almost destroyed everything in my bag and was so wet at the show that I had to sit by myself. Yeah.) But, along with the probably unnecessary self-injury only a wide-eyed novice could make, I also had those intense fan-girl moments that made the whole thing worthwhile. Standing next to Meredith Melling Burke in the elevator. Literally bumping into Andre Leon Talley at Yigal. Watching the Fashionista girls gossiping outside the Tents. Stammering like a fool when Kate Lanphear held a door open for me at Staerk.
The most incredible moment of the week is depicted in the photo above. I arrived to the Karen Walker show late which made me so angry since I’m absolutely obsessed with KW’s designs and (nerd alert) philosophy on femininity and power. I rushed to my seat, but found that someone else was sitting in it. I tried looking for other seats in the same row, but they were all filled. A PR girl saw me looking lost and ushered me to the other side of the runway where she said that she had seen a seat, but then someone yelled, the lights started dimming, and she pushed me into an empty spot in the front row. I looked to my right. Oh geez. Kate Lanphear. To my left? Jane. And Gloria! Was that Virginia behind me? I was sure I had died somewhere between 6th and 7th Ave earlier in the day, and unwittingly gone to Fashion Heaven. The show ended sooner than I wanted it to. Everyone left. I walked outside and called my mother.
Philip sent me these pictures earlier today, and I was so happy he found them. I opened them up when I left my last class of this morning and all those giddy, thrilly feelings came rushing back. I’m leaving tomorrow evening for the Fall shows on behalf of Chictopia and am flying in with Fiona who is attending for her first time and is going through the same bouts of queasiness and excited terror that first-timers go through (you’re going to do great, lady!). But as for me, I’m going to take it easy. I’m only going to a handful of shows, scheduling lengthy lunch and dinner slots, wearing (semi) sensible shoes and leaving behind my heavy laptop in lieu of my roommate’s mini version.
It’s different this time around. But no worries—please come say hi to me at Karen Walker on the 14th. I’ll be the one grinning like an idiot.