I haven’t added anything to this blog for a few days, partially because I just needed a rest, and partially because I wanted to let the fashion week experience sink in a bit before making any more comments.
If you have been reading this blog, you may have drawn your own conclusions about fashion week (if you would like, please add a “comment”to any post I’ve written–I hate to think no one is reading this or worse, that what I’m writing might not be interesting to you).
Practically every television channel has had some coverage of fashion week, usurped only by the Emmys. The images that you see on your television screen really aren’t representative of fashion week at all. If you watch television, you might get the sense that all the fashion shows are effortless, glamorous productions that just “happen” by magic, full of star-studded audiences. You see photos of rich women with tiny handbags and high heels, sitting serenly in the front row with the movie starts. You might get the idea that only celebs attend these shows because the emphasis is so focused on them. But, in fact, the underdressed, older, and often not very stylish people also in attendance are the ones who really count–the top reporters, the stylists and the buyers. THEY are the true powers of fashion week despite how desparately the celebrities are pushed by the media.
One TV feature that really amused me was two young girls who were not sophisticated or stylishly dressed, who worked for a television station and were reporting on what it was really like to be at their first runway show. I have no idea when they shot the footage, but the lobby area of the tent was not very busy, and they jumped a rope (no large security guards were present to stop them), and tried on the Judith Ripka Jewelry on display (I didn’t see anyone else allowed to even touch the display case). Having had this much “fun,” the two girls walked directly into the tent (not a line or a stampeding hoarde of standing room only types to be seen), to see one of the popular shows. They had trouble deciding which seats to take because someone was in theirs, apparently (that part, is plausible) so they “browsed,” (not a chance of that–you snooze and you lose when seats are at a premium)! One decided to take a front row seat that was empty (yeah, where…and why wasn’t there a pr person with a headset ready to take THEIR heads off for sitting where they clearly didn’t belong?). The other “no, I INSIST that you take the front row said the second girl”) got a seat in the coveted second row (again, not likely). After the show, they said it was “really great” to be at fashion week. Their experience would make anyone envious! What FUN to be at fashion week!
But it’s not real. No one is sweating (it was HOT and HUMID the entire week). There are no security guards making sure that you know you don’t “belong” (if you don’t) and there are no long lines of people waiting, waiting, and waiting some more to get into the shows (even though they have invitations, they have not been assigned seats just in case someone more important might show up and be assigned the seat they should have gotten). No one is pushing or being rude, or jockying for seats. You never see the young pr girls all dressed in black, running around looking overwhelmed. Fashion week looks like a private party for the rich and famous. Maybe it is, but that’s just part of it.
Fashion week is a class society of the rich and celebrated, and those who actually work the event. Yes, for most of us, fashion week was fun, but it was also WORK. The clothing industry is huge, and it is crucial to New York City’s economy (interesting that I didn’t see one elected NYC official at these events). The runways shows ultimately influence even the lowliest fashionista on the planet. It’s all about money, and power. The rich get the goodies and the attention. The press are treated like bottom feeders (Not all, but some, especially the photographers, really do behave that way). The people who really make decisions about BUYING the clothes are given second and third row seats so that Paris Hilton can “party” with her buddies in the front row and get even more famous, and get even more freebies. Often, the celebs aren’t even wearing the clothes of the designer whose show they are coming to see!
I enjoyed seeing the fashions and talking to those in the trade, my press colleagues, and the talented, dedicated makeup artists, hair stylists, and managers who make the week successful, but, in truth, I really did feel like it was a private party (no a CIRCUS) for celebrities and very rich patrons. I felt like my fashion week reality was in a different universe from these people and more importantly, I felt that focus was not on the clothes and the business of fashion (as it used to be) but just about celebrities at parties you and I will never be invited to, and who got to sit in the front row, and what they were wearing. One article quoted a fashionista as having a tiny handbag and laughingly referring to the huge totes that the “working people” had to lug around (in the heat, standing in lines, and all day and night). Most of the “regular” people looked tired, hot, and somewhat disheveled. It was humid, we were on our feet all day, and we took trains, busses and (for the lucky few), cabs, not limos. There wasn’t even a check room facility for the press, so anything you needed for the day, you had to tote with you standing on line and to every show.
More importantly, I bemoan the lack of consideration for others even though I live in this place where people seem to expect confrontation and rudenesss as the norm. If you have to push someone aside to get a good seat (or ANY seat), what does that really say about YOU and your values? Is getting a seat at a fashion show worth physically assualting someone (as in my post about the man with the bag at Alice Roi?). What kind of tiny ego must you have if sitting in one of the first rows is really that important to you?
Well, I’m getting off my soapbox and getting back to work. I’ll be writing in this blog about other things–things that really matter–to me, my family, and hopefully, to you!