I went to backstage for the first time this fashion week, to see the preparations for the Monique Lihuillier Show at 10 and Bill Blass’s show at 11, especially to see the hair and makeup by Aveda and MAC Cosmetics. I arrived way too early, because this was what I really wanted to see–the backstage area where the front-of-house magic is created. It looks like it’s easy, but it takes a village to put a show together and make a concept into reality where lights, clothes, music and the models come together in that breathtaking illusion of constant glamour.
When I got to the backstage access area, my contact wasn’t around, and a young girl who had a “don’t bother me with your problem” attitude and who wouldn’t make eye contact, couldn’t find my name on the backstage list for Monique’s show. I tried to look at the list myself, but another young girl wearing the uniform of the publicist(black cocktail dress and stilettos, no accessories) slapped her magazine over it as I bent down to peek. The mesage was clear–I had no choice but to wait as other photographers and press were ushered past me, until my contact could be found.
Meanwhile, I gravitated to the next desk, for Bill Blass and luckily, I was on that list, and was handed a backstage access pass and escorted into the backstage area. It was still before 9 am and the Bill Blass show wasn’t scheduled for at least two more hours (and I knew it would probably be delayed, as it seems all the shows are) . I helped myself to a cup of coffee, and watched the lead MAC makeup artist do a demo on one of the models (very young, fresh, glowing with sheer, shimmery rose lips and soft gold eyes) *I’ll be covering this in more detail in my upcoming Fashion Week Edition Enews with some of my exclusive photos *for your copy, just visit my web site and click on the “subscribe” button (http://www.advicesisters.net ).
Still not knowing quite what to do with myself back there, I asked a few dorky questions of the security people, who were gracious and didn’t ROTFL (that’s “roll on the floor with laughter”). I wandered out to the lobby and finally ran into Jessica from Aveda and she ushered me back into the Monique Lilhuiller area. She showed me the Aveda Emergency Kit given to the models — three hair-conditioning products in a chic, black makeup bag packaged with a “wife-beater” T-shirt. It was so cute! These are not available to the general public, but the hair products are, and I will be reviewing some of them in an upcoming What Works column.
With the show only about an hour away, things were starting to buzz in the back. I watched the lead stylist (Kevin Ryan – very cute and obviously very talented!) use Aveda products to create a wet look for the models hair. His tip? If you have day off when you’re not doing anything special, putting good conditioner in your hair (Aveda makes great ones) and leave it in. Your hair will absorb what it needs, and at the end of the day, you’ll have better looking hair. I watched the MAC makeup artists complete the look (I’ll be discussing the MAC Cosmetics looks and hair and makeup from various shows in more detail on the Advice Sisters Web Site and in the next issue of my Advice Sisters ENews) *get your free copy by email. One makeup artist told me that she usually has enough time to work slowly on the first girl, but sometimes, by the end, she is rushing to put on makeup in four minutes! I loved the fantastic MAC colors. They’re runway perfect, and REALway attainable!
I wandered around the collection, featuring elegant, feminine, luxurious, evening clothes with a hint of 20’s deco glam. In fact, the jewelery accessories for the evening gowns featured actual art deco bracelets from the 1920’s, paired with new designs with a modern, deco feel. One pair of earrings I picked up was something like 57 carats of diamonds. It felt it in my hand and held it up to my ear–they were gorgeous–but definitely heavy! The rest of the collection was a nod to the 60’s–a theme lots of designers seem to be inspired by for Spring.
The last 10 minutes before the show (yes, it was delayed) were very hectic, and it was clear that it was time for me to leave and walk over to my next backstage treat again–Bill Blass. But before I left I noticed a striking blonde with very red lipstick walking in. The press was all over her. It was Anna-Kournikova wearing a Lihuillier design–a gorgeous black cocktail dress. “It’s not difficult to dress her (Anna)” said the designer.
Then the call came “Girls with First Looks!” so I decided not to stick around, and walked down the hall to the Bill Blass backstage, feeling so lucky to have backstage access and watch the pieces of the show come together. At Bill Blas, now, hair and makeup were in full swing. MAC was doing the makeup, young, fresh, rose-shimmered lips, nothing too extreme or overdone. The MAC eyes featured a soft, gold which looked beautiful with the elegant clothes. There were tons of photographers pushing and shoving, but I managed to get a few photos of the scene around me. Interestingly, there was absolutely nobody (except for a lone security guard) in the clothing area, so I wandered around the Bill Blass designs, looking at the cards of the models that have each girl’s name and photos of the outfits they will be wearing in the show). Bill Blass designer Michael Vollbracht , simply suited in blue shirtsleeves, came out to talk to a few people. I was too intimidated to ask him any questions. I sat in the back, I watched the models eat fruit and granola (and not too much of it) while the members of the press (mostly photographers with huge cameras) gobbled every last sandwich and muffin in sight.
“First looks” was the call again. This time, I followed the crowd up through the back door of the Bryant Park Tent into the show. I got a seat (in the back, but it was a seat) and sat next to a guy who said he was a stringer for The DAILY: http://www.fashionweekdaily.com/ (so much fun to read during fashion week and soon they’ll be launching a year-round version). He suggested that I stop by the Daily suite in the Bryant Park Hotel (didnt know they had one) and then the lights went down. We watched the truly thrilling collection that looked even better on the models than on the hangars. I found myself in a small crowd of people standing on the runway after the show, and showed my press badge. To my surprise, I was waved into the backstage, again. I saw Bernadette Peters and Joel Grey, and a few other people that I didn’t know but they were obviously celebrities. I didn’t really feel like I should stay too much longer, but I bumped into Julie, one of the Young women from Fashionistainc.com that I had met the day before on the standing room line. We said hell0 and then we both left.
With a few hours to kill before the Multi by Bree Show, I wandered into a Call2Recycle http://www.call2recycle.org/ hospitality event, arranged by Danny Seo at the Dylan Hotel, a few blocks away. RBRC is dedicated to keeping cell phones and rechargeable batteries out of our nation’s solid waste stream and preserving natural resources. I brought an old cell phone to recycle, and got a plastic cell phone filled with mints as a reward (although I should point out that plastic is also not the most recyclable material on earth). There were also reps from Derma New doing microdermabrasion demos, and the lovely Carolyn Rafaelian of Alex and Ani http://www.alexandani.com greeted me and showed off her new collection, including a St. Christopher Bangle (just $16.00) to lend support to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. What a sweetheart! I will be reviewing the bangle in the holiday What Works column but you can get yours now, online at Alex and Ani. They are fabulous. Get an armful-they look great in multiples–and you’ll be supporting a worthy cause, too.
I talked to a few other exhibitors/sponsors such as Kasil Jeans and Passchal handbags (amazing bags, and made out of used truck inner tubes) then sauntered over to the Bryant Park Hotel, where I got off at the wrong floor for the Daily, and ended up talking to Cynthia Warden, the Prinicipal of Blush Enterprises, who looked like she could hold her own on any red carpet. One of her products in her line is a new tooth whitening system that works for sensitive teeth “it’s even kosher,” she crowed like a proud parent. The dental hygenist fitting the tooth cups (to hold the whitening gel) had model quality looks of her own and was smart and sweet, too. *haven’t tried the product yet, but I will, and will review it in an upcoming What Works column. I also made a stop at the TIGI http://www.tigihaircare.com/ suite in the next room, met the PR coodinator, and oogled the makeup (I didn’t know TIGI/Bed Head had makeup as well as hair care. Now that I know, I’ll be reviewing both in my next column). I made a quick stop at the right floor for the Daily, said hi, ate a chocolate from Harry & David (yummy!) and went to Multi by Bree.
When I got to the Bryant Park Grill for the Multi by Bree show, there was a bit of confusion about my seat, but Katherine (thanks again!) took care of me. There were waiters circulating with champagne and canapes, which I enjoyed because I hadn’t eaten all day except for chocolate and some coffee. The show was wonderful–one I enjoyed because although it was full of luxe gowns in silk and chiffon (most decorated with beads), the dresses were actually something I could see a regular woman wear for an important day. The Spring collection is luxe, and I was in love with a hot pink, slip-dress type gown with crystal detail in the midsection, that reminded me of typical 20’s glam (not that I could wear it–but it would look great on someone tall and slim). I also liked the makeup-very red lips and pale skin, and gracefully rolled hair (reminiscent of the 40’s), complimenting these elegant clothes.
Right after Multi by Bree, I went to the Zang Toi show. Miraculously, I was actually on the list and given the order to “sit anywhere after the second row.” I dutifully sat in the fourth row, figuring that the most agressive seat hoppers (see my comments about the man with the Birkin Bag in yesterday’s blog entry) wouldn’t be rushing to push me over in row four. I saw a few celebrities I didn’t recognize (although one was a contestant on the Apprentice) and I chatted with a man who said he worked with Gianfranco Ferre, a designer I wish I could afford.
The show started in total darkness, with a loud soundtrack that sounded like jungle animals. The show was as stunning as the music. It was full of exotic, bold, unique pieces, and a succession of drop-your-jaw-beautiful, red carpet ready gowns with flowing skirts and highly embellished bodices, glittering with bugle beads and large rhinestones. These are not your everyday clothes, but if you wear something from Zang Toi you are going to be noticed. The daywear had an African, Safari theme, including black, khaki and ivory in safari clothes in body conscious designs.
Just as I left Zang Toi and made my way into a rest room, my cell phone rang. It was my husband (how did he know I was in the bathroom?) and he happened to be walking right past the tents. I had a show to attend in another location (Jane MacMillan) but I had missed my window of opportunity to get there, so I went out and say hello to my husband for about five minutes. Then, I made my way to the train, lugging a huge handbag and two bags full of other items from my daily travels, back home. I answered a bunch of emails, drank a diet coke, and am now finishing up this blog entry about the events of the day.
But the day isn’t over. I have to go through those bags and figure out who I need to call after fashion week, and find a place for the cosmetics samples I need to..well..sample! Lots of hand washing (it’s been HOT outside) and ironing, and then perhaps, some sleep?