How was Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week? It’s the question I’ve been asked over and over again since I got home, and one I’m more than happy to answer. It was amazing, and I’m beyond thrilled I went. Over the moon. After more than a decade of being invited to the shows (from those long ago and far away days of the dark ages of print magazines), I finally stopped making excuses (too afraid to fly, can’t be away from home, to stressful to fall out of my daily grind), and did it. I went. And it was worth every second.
As a little girl, my mother, a hair stylist (who took me to work with her, where I watched women transform from everyday people into their best outer selves with hair and makeup) gave me an issue of Elle, and inside I found beautiful models wearing tuxedo jackets with denim cutoffs, top hats with combat boots. It’s was amazing to see something so beautiful and classic paired with something so frayed and worn. From the minute I thumbed through that magazine, I knew fashion was a world I wanted to live in. As an older girl, I devoured the pages of Sassy magazine. I wanted to be Jane Pratt so badly, I even gave my daughter her middle name in honor of her. And as an even older girl, I lived in awe of what Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington manage to accomplish month after month.
So what what was like for a NYFW newbie, like me, to be at fashion week? It was a weird and wonderful microcosm, like a grown up girl escaping to the ultimate fantasy land of dress-up and makeup. I fixed myself up in my best clothes, did my hair and makeup and headed out into the world by 9 a.m. every day, in clothes that I’d wear to cocktail parties and upscale dinners. Walking around Murray Hill in these get-ups made me feel like square peg in a sea of round holes, but once I reached the tents, I felt at home. I was here to celebrate fashion. And so was everyone else. Here, I watched models truck down the runway in clothes that will wind up the pages of magazines. I sat backstage and witnessed the who’s who of the hair and beauty worlds create works of art on human canvases. I experienced the stillness of a room when the editor of Vogue walks into a show and then I watched a show that Anna Wintour, who just a few rows in front of me, also watched. I went backstage for Jason Wu, the designer whose Target collaboration propelled me to pursue this whole crazy world of blogging. And I bonded with friends from Miami in a way I never expected. Together, we created memories. There is no way in this life or the ones to come that Angeles and I will ever forget the minute Anna Wintour walked into the Public School show. Or the way Will.i.am started speaking to her in Spanish backstage. Or the hilarious laughs and views we shared on the rooftop of the Standard.
But there’s another side to Fashion Week, one that I now understand. There are so many people, who work in fashion and who don’t, who hate it. They call it shallow, pretentious and elitist. And after being there, I can see why they say that. Oh, that was a hard sentence to write. Admitting something you are so in awe of has flaws is never a pleasant experience. But it’s partially true. I truly had no idea what I was walking into when I walked onto Lincoln Center for the first time. Anyone with something interesting on is flogged down by photographers snapping their pic. For those who hate see and be seen, this is certainly not the place for you.
After one show, I walked out and onto the plaza, grabbed my phone and started texting a friend to see when they would arrive. Upon looking up, I noticed a circle of photogs snapping my pic. And then, momentarily, they just walked away. I was nothing more than a hot minute of fashion. No one bothered to ask my name. No one asked what I did. Who I was. I was just a fashion blip on the radar. But the truth is, even at fashion week, we’re more than just what we wear. And while my outfit of the day may be one aspect of me, it’s a very small one. Yes, it’s exciting to think what you have put together is something that is potentially print worthy, but it doesn’t define you. I guess that’s why words have always been the focus of my blog. For eons now, I’ve heard from professional blogging events: Less words, more pics. But a picture can only tell so much of a story. It’s the words that convey the message. And while my outfit for whatever day of fashion week was fun, it was the experience that means more to me than anything. And that experience is incomplete when it’s limited to just a visual.
So, yes, Fashion Week has its flaws, much like all things, but I’m willing to overlook them. Because for me, ultimately, it was an extended weekend where I treated that little Midwestern girl inside of me to the living version of the magazine pages she poured over as a child. And she’s so glad I did.