Why Fashion Week Was Actually Great


Fashion Week just roared by in eight days and nights of Kanye West not taking questions, money from the air, Twitter indiscretions, personal indiscretions, pieces filed, mis-spellings, spilled drinks, long walks on the West Side Highway, to the West Side Highway, and back from the West Side Highway, persistent status anxiety, MTA service interruptions (How Does This Affect My Trip? In a most annoying way) and dry shampoo.

I had more fun than I think I have ever had at a fashion week before. I suppose I am less intimidated by people with black clipboards and headsets, by the rigamarole of checking in at the door and checking in at the desk and collecting one’s seating assignment and going through event security, show by show, than I once was. The memory that defines, for instance, my first season at the tents as a writer rather than as a model, my first season on a new side of what I now realize is a great divide between backstage and front-of-house, between production and consumption, is an interaction that I had with a security guard, to whom I accidentally handed the wrong seating card (standing room, obviously) when entering a show. He immediately threatened to remove me from the venue. (“But I’m credentialed press,” I said, too green to grasp that he thought I was trying to sneak in. “Oh yeah? I’d love to see those credentials,” he sneered, even as I showed him my laminated pass. He marched me out of the line and waved me off in disgust.) I went to the port-a-potty block, locked myself in a stall, and cried. (I found the card for that show, later, in my blazer’s breast pocket.) My personal anxieties over fashion week have been such that every season, there has come a morning when, quite unexpectedly between shows, I have had to rush to the nearest bathroom and vomit. No matter how many friends I make or how much I drink to quell the existential dread, the instinct to run and take the first A train home and ignore all incoming calls is one that must be fought, daily.

Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. collection happened to be the last important runway show of the trade event known as Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week — and for the first time, I recorded no instances of nausea. Things get easier with practice, it turns out. Many of my nights ended at dawn, because covering the damn thing and then writing the damn thing does tend to keep one up. But it was actually fun. I saw Pat Cleveland dance on a runway, and remembered how she saw fit to talk to wallflower me about Italy and poetry and Andy Warhol and Pittsburgh at the Zac Posen party last season. I saw a publicist come up to Crystal Renn on 14th Street and tell her, with extreme sincerity, that she was her inspiration; this publicist’s boss makes regular comments about her weight. Crystal said, “Come here, girl,” and they hugged. I smoked a cigarette, and did other things I do not customarily do. I watched the models in the Blonds show trail glitter all over the runway.

I listened to André Leon Talley’s opinions about Just Kids and heard Peter Brant Jr. expound on Thorstein Veblen. I drank hot spiked cider while Johnny Weir skated in the Elise Overland show, held on an ice rink. (It was open air, and unusually for a fashion event, open to anyone who happened to be passing by.) Strangers asked if I could get them drugs. (I can’t.) I went to a party where someone decided to throw $5,000 into the air over the dance floor, and nobody rioted; I briefly glimpsed Mark Hunter’s red Calvin Klein briefs when he flashed the photographers at the Jeremy Scott show. (Mark Hunter is beyond pants. Mark Hunter transcends pants.) I shared a fruit tart with Tavi Gevinson at a café in SoHo before the Y-3 show, and we talked about feminism and Arrested Development and Joan Didion. I spoke to Tim Gunn. I ran away to Queens and had wine and cheese with Moe Tkacik, Anna Holmes, Megan Carpentier, and Dodai Stewart. I paid $14 for a vodka-tonic at the Standard hotel. Some kind of incredible seating mix-up resulted in my getting front-row views at Charlotte Ronson and Proenza Schouler. (The latter’s navajo-inspired collection was very beautiful, perhaps my favorite of the season.)

Every tribe needs its temporary break from commonly observed norms, its Rumspringa, its Sadie Hawkins day. The tribe that meets in New York, London, Milan, and Paris to greet the new collections does this twice-annually. Fashion week is a kind of liminal space, a time when things happen that shouldn’t, people who ordinarily don’t mix do, and the pall of ordinary life is briefly lifted. I kind of loved it.

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