The first NY Fashion Week in 1943, image courtesy of Conde Nast
The original NY fashion week was created in 1943 to bring the latest fashions of the major Parisian houses to the NY press, after the war made it difficult for Americans to travel there. Additionally, American designers became more notable thanks to the glamour of Hollywood, and so the event of NYFW is still going strong today.
This image makes it look so much more glamorous than Fashion Week today is. I’m sure the models strolled down the catwalk (with both smiles on their face and after an actual meal), each meticulously curated look was probably inspected by the press for longer than a 20 second strut (thanks to the power of the internet, I think models are picking up the pace when they walk) and there weren’t 12984785792 different events that the press have to cram in during the week.
From my experiences from being both behind the scenes and as a spectator during the Mercedes Benz NYFW events over the past decade, NYFW today is not as glamorous as you may think.
TOP 10 REASONS WHY NYFW IS NOT AS GLAMOROUS AS YOU THINK:
1) It makes you feel like you’re a “persona non grata.” Unless you’re a major player in the press or celeb world, you won’t be sitting (or in most cases, standing) in the front row.
2) There is rarely food in sight. Yes, there will be plenty of coconut water and maybe a cupcake somewhere if you’re lucky, but for some reason, people forget about meals during this week. Well, unless they’re dining at Cipriani or The Standard, which I am pretty sure I will not be. I remember while working back stage at a show years ago, I was sent to go get food for the designer—but she was too busy to eat it, so I’m pretty sure it was just for show.
3) It’s a lot of waiting around. You can wait 15 minutes to over an hour just to see a show…that lasts for 5 minutes.
4) It’s actually work for some of us. Yes, we get to look at pretty clothes, but for someone like myself or a journalist, we’re taking notes (or at least mental notes) the whole time of what we like/dislike and will want to remember.
5) The backstage of a fashion show is like a zoo with uncaged animals: there are models everywhere, along with basically a hair/makeup artist and a dresser for almost every one of them, not to mention a team of people orchestrating the actual show—oh and they’re all getting interviewed at the same time. It’s kind of the nuttiest couple of hours you’ll ever see.
6) The prep of a show is probably the least glamorous thing you may ever see. I’m pretty sure people pulled all-nighters right before a show I once worked on.
7) Fashion’s Night Out is not fun for everyone. I once had to work an event for a popular retailer, where customers could win a 10 minute styling session with me…every 20 minutes…all night. It was the most exhausting night and a terrible choice to wear heels in their multi-level store.
8) Your ticket to get in is a receipt. What happened to the days of handwritten invites? Now it’s so impersonal that you tell the employees at Lincoln Center your name and they give you a receipt. A receipt! Not even a ticket. Where’s the glamour in that?
9) There’s a ton of running around from shows to events (not to mention standing online, unless you’re someone like Anna Wintour)—and in not your most comfortable shoes. I stupidly made the mistake one year of wearing a pair of Marc Jacob sample shoes that were straight from the runway. Trust me, they were only meant for the 20 second runway strut…or the power players that get town cars to shuttle them around. Instead most of the real people I know will be taking the commoners’ version of transportation, the subway, and switching into their Louboutins before they get inside. I even know one famous stylist (who shall remain nameless) that showed up to a show I was working on with an entourage of men carrying her back-up shoes!
10) There is now less socializing and more about the immediacy of reporting on everything. It’s almost scary to walk into the courtyard of Lincoln Center and just about every person is on his or her iPhone, iPad or Macbook, Tweeting, Instagraming, Facebooking, blogging, YouTubing, Livestreaming, etc. Then you get inside and there’s a whole section devoted to just that…and I’m sure I will be sitting in there at some point, if I can get a seat.
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