I started off this Fashion Week bright and early, and I discovered two things pretty quickly: 1) you can get a press pass in about fifteen minutes if you show up at 8:15 AM, and 2) Fashion Week is way, way better when there aren't any crowds.
My first show was Nicholas K, and it was totally worth getting up early for. This silver jacket needs to get in my closet right now:
I also liked the layering and the scrunched up sleeves. Pretty much, I'm always in favor of any trend that makes laziness look more glamorous. (Because I'm going to be lazy anyway. Might as well look better at the same time, if I can.)
My next show was BCBGMaxAzria, which is one of my favorite labels to wear, and therefore sometimes not the most exciting show. Wearability doesn't equal drama on the runway, usually. However, this season's clothes were lots of fun to look at. I'm not generally a huge fan of color blocking, due to the fact that it tends to make anyone over a size 6 look like a Mondrian painting. But I love this variation:
So far, there's a lot to spend my imaginary money on.
Betsey Johnson is always my favorite show, despite the fact that I haven't been able to wear most of her stuff since I graduated from high school. (Most offices dislike it when you show up to meetings wearing leopard print body suits.)
One interesting thing about Betsey's shows is that her models always look like they're having fun. For one show, at least, they can put aside their photogenic lack of expression and really ham it up. So I was surprised when the first part of the show - called "He Loves Me Not" - started up, and a bunch of black-wigged models stalked down the runway looking grim and gothy and not at all chipper.
The explanation came in part two, "He Loves Me," which featured Betsey Johnson's new Pink Patch collection. The garments in this section were all under a hundred bucks, which is cheap for most ready-to-wear, and featured brighter colors and prints. Most interesting, though, were the models. Or should I say lack of models, since every mannequin strutting by was a staff member of Betsey's - in other words, "normal" people, in a variety of shapes and sizes. (One was even pregnant.)
I loved this, of course, but not just because it's nice to see some body diversity in a fashion show. No, what I loved about it was that the clothes still looked great, proving that you don't have to design for the size-2 set, if you know what you're doing. (Also, it was fun to see the muted horror on some of the stylists' faces as the normals took over the runway.)
Now, as a friend of mine pointed out, if only Betsey starts making clothes in sizes larger than a 12, we'll all have something to cheer about.
In our office, I'm the only one who covers style. This means that I'm the only one who goes to Fashion Week, which in turn means that I could tell anyone anything about what they'll be wearing come fall.
The usual conversation goes something like this:
Coworker: How are the shows?
Me: (Grumbling about the heat or the cold, and waiting in line.)
Coworker: But the clothes? How are those?
Me: Oh, you know (pretty/ugly/very tailored/layered/bohemian/reminescent of cowboys, hippies, or Dior's New Look.)
Coworker: So what will I be wearing next season?
This question is getting more and more complicated. (See my Mad Libs-style answer above.) As the seasons march on, I'm less and less able to say, definitively, "You will be wearing a lot of purple next year." Or: "You will have five pairs of gloves."
For instance, this year, BCBG showed a lot of '70s inspired layers, with white body suits underneath, while Christian Siriano hewed more closely to his preferred hour-glass silhouette. "Tailoring" has been a byword for awhile at Fashion Week, mainly because designers hope that displays of superior craftsmanship will make it harder for fast fashion chains to knock off their wares. But it's hard to say that just one thing will be the Next Big Thing.
The good news, I guess, is that whatever you're into, fashion-wise, you're likely to be able to get it. As someone who used to dread the bohemian end of the cycle, I'm pretty glad. (Try wearing long layers and huge bags when you're 5' 2" and curvy. I looked like I'd eaten Stevie Nicks.)
However, if you run into me on the street, and ask me what you'll be wearing next season, I'm going to tell you that it's scuba suits from here on out. Just because I think that would be fun.
Today is Day 2 of Fashion Week, although Day 1 for me, as I've managed to contract my biannual sniffle and couldn't face up to waiting in the cold for my press pass until this morning.
It was still pretty terrible waiting outside in that line. The lines are the least glamorous part of Fashion Week, but it's especially rough during the fall season. (Fall, in the Fashion Week calendar, takes place in February. February, in New York, takes place on the Ice Planet of Hoth.)
The nice thing is that everyone's suffering together. I spoke with one lady here from London who was wearing a nifty pair of leather leggings, which I pointed out to her was much smarter in this weather than tights.
"But I forgot my gloves!" she said, holding up her hands briefly and then tucking them back under her arms. "It's so cold. Why is it so cold? It's colder than London."
I usually make some kind of attempt to dress up for Fashion Week, but not in this weather. I don't do the full stilettos and multiple accessories thing, but I generally leave off wearing my usual uniform (my husband's jeans and a sweater) for a few days, just to give the appearance of playing along. Today, however, I gave up entirely and just bundled up.
As a result, I still have all my fingers and toes. Which is fortunate, because it's hard to type without fingers.
Finally, I'd like to share with you my favorite picture from Fashion Week so far. It's a lamp, shaped like a horse. One assumes I'll have pictures of actual fashion to show you soon, provided the automated check-in system lets me into some shows.
No, not the kind women are wearing, in order to be fashionable. The kind the mens are wearing, in order to look like mens who groom, etc and so on.
My expertise here is limited to: "Don't wear a tie and shirt that are the same color. You'll look like you just stepped out of a time machine from 2004." Beyond that, I turn to our men's fashion expert, Daniel Billett, who was happy to fill me in.
The Best Looks From Fashion Week Spring 2011 features 15 different very different looks from 5 designers. Whether you're a suit type of guy, or a tunic-y dude, you'll probably find something you'll like.
Something I didn't like: The, uh, harem pants in Duckie Brown's collection. They're apparently supposed to be "drop-waist sweatpants," but I think we all know what they are. I danced with a guy who was wearing these in 1990. We were listening to Bel Biv Devoe. Do not wear the harem pants, gentlemen. Especially, do not wear them in bright green. It's just a bad idea:
People, I have seen more pregnant women at Fashion Week this year than I have at my nephew's preschool. It's a baby explosion, and it's not even the celebrities.
This means that the preggos I've seen have been working: holding boom mikes, interviewing people, ushering ingrates into seats. I know that being pregnant is not a disability, but it does, I hear, make you a bit weary. So I'm very impressed but all of this. Also, I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
I got a front row seat at Ports 1961, which was both exciting and very, very strange.
Front row seats are notoriously hard to get, as anyone who's ever watched a romcom with a Fashion Week segment knows. So getting one is a big deal. What I didn't know until yesterday was that it's also sort of odd.
See, the front row at this particular show was actually in the middle of the runway. Picture a double row of seats placed back to back, and then the runway making a U around them, and you've got the idea.
This means that everyone who was staring at the clothes was also, sort of, staring at me. It was very disconcerting. I kept checking to make sure I hadn't tucked my dress into my underpants or applied lipstick to my teeth.
Also, a photographer came by and took my picture, and that of my seatmate Sara Glassman. When he asked for my name, I almost said, "Um, why?" I was thinking of explaining to him that I've never been on reality TV, that I love comfortable shoes, and refuse to diet, because starvation should be something that happens when you don't actually have access to food, but instead I just told him my name. Later someone asked him why he was photographing people, he said it was for the designer.
Well, I'm still going to pretend that I'm famous. It was fun, for about an hour.
(The show itself, BTW, was lovely. Lots of emerald green and bright purple. Also, you should know that assymetrical dresses and tops are apparently here to stay, so adjust accordingly.)
The first day of Fashion Week is always sort of a zoo. No one knows where they are or what's going on, and that was before we changed venues.
It took me fifteen minutes to find the location, even once I was on the right block. So far, I'll say there's a lot more space at Lincoln Center, but I don't like how swallowed up everything feels. It was kind of fun looking at the Tents in Bryant Park and knowing that this was a huge big deal. Here, well, we could all be going to the Met to see the Mummys. Which I might do, if I get tired of the glamour.
Anyway, I tweeted my first day, but as some of you hate reading things backwards, I decided I'd re-do it here, in the correct order. Here's what I was thinking during credentials pickup and my first show, which was Christian Siriano Spring 2011. (In case you're interested.)
Amazed at how much more uptown Lincoln Center feels. It's only 20 blocks
Ah, but the credentials line is just the same.
Quote: "this better not take 20 minutes!" No worries about that, I shouldn't think.
This is an hour long line if I ever saw one
Everyone in heels except me and the ladies who (don't) lunch - they live here and are just coming back from the gym
Everyone on this line is cold, except for me
Curly hair on the video monitor. Between that and mad men style, I feel I have finally come into my own
Dude at credentials dropped a whole tray of cards.#mercuryinretrograde
Talking to a lady on line for Christian Siriano who knew him as a kid.
He calls her diva, apparently, and she bought him the gold shoes he wore on project runway
Ok, over lines now.#7daystogo
How do people wear heels in this line? I'm in sneakers and I'm dying
Bumped to standing #grr
It's hilarious how entitled I feel to a seat assignment.
Some of these people are famous, evidently. I'm just going by flashbulbs. I don't actually recognize them
All famous people look alike.
It's sort of weird. Are they grown in a lab?
Lots of red lipstick in the audience.#myplaniscomingtogether
Ooh, pulling back the plastic on the runway. Here we go!
Hooray! First model non-white. Also, cute leather jacket
Many clean white dresses and brown belrs
Or even belts
Love the super platform shoes
Weird that today's cold and we're looking at spring clothes
Ah, beige, my nemesis
Ooh, turquoise. Lots of asymmetrical dresses
Evening dresses. Everything is really pretty. I even liked the leather shorts
Models all lean back when they walk. I tend to lean forward. Discuss.
Bell bottoms! We're doomed
Plasticy suit in red leopard print. And it looked good. No, I don't understand either
When models get married, do they strut down the aisle?
I don't even know what just walked down the runway. It was big and red.
And there he is!
He being Christian Siriano, who is adorable and I want him to be my friend and make me clothes in my size. Anyway, here are the highlights, visual-representation-wise:
Red thing, below:
The dress I will wear everyday when I am a fairy princess ... seriously, people gasped when this came down the runway:
And my favorite outfit from the show:
All images of the Christian Siriano Spring 2011 Show, by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.
This Fashion Week comprises a lot of firsts: the first Fashion Week at Lincoln Center, the first to send more email invites than physical ones, the first to have automated check-in kiosks at the shows. (Which sounds like we're going to a bunch of fashion shows at JFK, but could be cool.)
All of this is fine and dandy - even leaving Bryant Park, which gave me a sniffle when it was first announced, might not be the end of the world if all this high tech stuff makes things more efficient. But what about real change? What would you want to see at Fashion Week?
Personally, I want:
1) More diversity on the runway. OK, everyone wants this. But it's getting a bit tiresome. Every year, we hear that there will be more models of color, and fewer size double-zero only shows, and every year it turns out to be a nifty press release and no action.
2) A bit more flair trickling down from the runway to the commercial lines. A few years ago, I went to a BCBG sample sale at a large mall near my parent's house. When I got to the front of the line, the sales woman pointed out that I'd grabbed the sample in the bunch that looked like it came from the runway and not from a store. (Apparently, that means a foofy skirt with large pockets, but I knew what she meant; it was a more interesting piece than the other day dresses in my cart.)
I'm not, in my day-to-day life, very fashion-y. I like flat shoes and I like to get dressed in 15 minutes. Howsomever, that doesn't mean I (or you) want to look like I just woke up (possibly in a gutter.)
3) Plus sizes, please. Or even anything above a size 10. It's very odd to see a designer come out at the end of her show to take a bow, and then realize that she couldn't wear her own designs in their commercial form. For better or worse, we're getting bigger, and companies need to make clothing to reflect that.
How bout you? What do you want to see?
I have an idea for a reality TV program, and if you are a TV exec, you are welcome to steal it.
My idea is that we would take a generically beautiful young woman of a certain type - white, blonde, 19 - 23, not apparently overwhelmingly intelligent - and have her professionally groomed, coiffed and dressed. Then we would finagle an invite to a fashion show, plop her in the front row, and hound her with cameras.
Everyone would think she was famous. You wouldn't even have to make up a show for her to be on, because no one would admit that they didn't recognize her.
I have had the following conversation with fellow guests at Fashion Week at least 25 times in recent years:
Other Guest Who Is Also in "Priority Standing": Who is that?
Me: I don't know. I think she's on a reality TV show.
Other Guest: Oh. Is she on that one with the musician?
Me: No. I think she's on the one where they're all rich and went to school with celebrities.
Other Guest: Oh. Do you know what her name is?
Me: No. Just put down a guy's name and a street name, and you'll probably get it right.
And then we will go back to craning our necks at Joey Vanderhocken, drawn like moths to the bright lights of the cameras circling over her head. But for how long? For how long?