I went to NYFW a week ago. I would like to tell you about it.
At first, I had planned to do a day-by-day diary but by-god that was impossible. Bed looked better, sleep sounded like heaven. Besides, I had already been writing until my fingers fell off about so-and-so’s dreamy collection of chiffon whatevers.
Fashion Week is weird because on the outside it’s a glittery dream of style, panache, and luxury. On the inside it’s not that it isn’t those things, it’s that it’s a little more complicated than that.
I’ll break it down into these three categories: the street, the show, and backstage.
Before street style took over and dribbled into runways, it hardly mattered what you looked like outside of the show (much less seated at the show!) These days it’s a veritable runway and you really don’t need me to tell you that.
Is any of it real? Is any of it candid street style? I would say a portion of it is. You can be minding your business, walking about, and find a camera shoved in your face or see a flash and, like a magician, the photographer is gone. Photographers hang outside of backstage doors, at the beginning and end of shows, waiting for stylish attendants to mill about or go about their business fashionably. There they will snap snap away with their cameras. Phil Oh, a top of the line street style photographer, is a good example. Click through his NYFW 2018 slideshow and you’ll see some people are just on the phone, walking, or laughing as they realize they’re being photographed. Others are posed.
[hint hint: red is very in, either monochrome or pops of it]
Other pictures are very much staged. The closest they are to being street style is the fact that they have taken those pictures on the street. But, ironically, street style is the name of a format at this point, a way of dressing, and it doesn’t really represent the streets anymore.
In any case, it’s through the streets you must pass, through the gauntlet of photographers you must dodge or wait for (as they take some photos of so-and-so), and into the appropriate line to at last arrive at the show.
First: it will not start on time. Second: you must be quite early. You will stand in line, especially if you have no assigned seat like this:
Then you shall be ushered into the space and…
A.) find your seat, take things on the seat, plop down, smile at neighbors
B.) be standing room and wait for someone to tell you that you can now sit where there’s an empty seat
C.) be standing room the whole time
All of these options are enjoyable in their own way, the seat being the obvious preference, especially front row. There are these weird new benches made to be slightly higher for the third and fourth rows—this is intelligent, as it aids in everyone seeing. The downside is that for short legs like mine, you end up feeling like a kindergartener waiting for a snack.
The show will be late to start because they’re not ready in the back, there are important people who need front row photos taken, bloggers want pictures taken on the runway so they’re in the way, and/or the guest of honor isn’t here yet.
When all of that’s done, you’ll get treated to interesting light choices, cool venues, and of course: the collection itself.
Shows go on for about fifteen minutes, though it depends a lot on how large the collection is. The lights go down, the music thumps on, and the first model appears. You can bet that everyone’s phone is up in the air in unison, snapping social media pics, boomerangs, videos, live streams, and whatever else you can broadcast. I take notes on the shapes, colors, fabrics, and themes in the dark. I’m sure others do too.
After each model struts to the view of the photographers and the flurry of clicks assaults our ears, it’s the best part.
The finale. All the looks one after another in a triumphant walk! It’s like a rainbow of fashion. The designer usually comes out to bow or do a walk or a run or a skip thing. Sometimes they bring a model with them.
It may seem strange to put this part of the experience last, but it’s the deepest in you can go, despite most of the work being done before the show itself.
I love backstage. You are always in the way, but you can also be a fly on the wall. Wander among makeup artists and hair stylists, taking pictures of the lip look du jour and checking to see if the wet hair trend is still in (it is.)
And if you’re press like me, you do interviews with the designer in front of some step-and-repeat that says their name over and over.
That’s a bit nerve wracking, but it’s cool to meet various designers and see how their personality manifests in their collections or how they manage their backstage. Son Jung Wan is a major sweetheart.
If you’re like me and you enjoy being an anonymous wanderer in the midst of other people’s activity (more on that from past Claire), then backstage is the preferred ecosystem. And, when it’s time to slip out of the action and take your seat, you can slide past models practicing their walk, out behind the wall where they will soon showcase those sartorial works of art.
I hope this peek into fashion week was enjoyable or enlightening in some way. I love that I get to occasionally live what is essentially my dream life.
Les plus chic bisous à toi,