Some thoughts on New York Fashion Week Fall 2006

Twice a year, the zoo that is Fashion Week descends upon the tents of Bryant Park – and a number of side venues – in New York. Having attended the last three Fashion Weeks as, mostly, a spectator, I was curious to see how much more insight a press credential could get me through this insane carnival of cloth, clowns and camera clicks.

Through my previous experiences, I have learned and/or gleaned the following through various observations and encounters:

  • Celebrities and serious insiders tend to dress down; those who are line crashers tend to dress up. For a poor public relations intern, not knowing who’s who could be the kiss of death in this industry. However, if you are one of the line crashers, act like you know what you’re doing at all times.
  • Unless you’re really, really big – how’s that for a Fashion Week oxymoron? – don’t make an attempt when it comes to seating. For example, before a show during the Fall 2005 Collections, a woman claiming to be a sponsor asked whether she could skip the line. The crew of interns told her, politely, no. She in the high heels was furious. “If I leave and come back in 20 minutes, will there be no line?” Not guaranteed. “I don’t DO lines,” she said, and promptly stomped off. Maybe if the crew had actually heard of her company, she would have been let in. Not guaranteed.
  • New York and Los Angeles Fashion Weeks are run by the same company, but they couldn’t be any more different. The New York version lasts for an actual week and is mostly for the media and buyers. In other words, strictly business. L.A., on the other hand, is a blue jeans operation (with very nice make-up and hair, if that is a consolation) that is for the celebrities. It also only runs for a few days, not a week. But who is counting?
  • Naomi Campbell, according to one West Coaster, dropped her rates to $10,000 a show in order to walk the runway in New York a couple of seasons ago. Apparently, she was desperate for work. Maybe it isn’t true, but what is true is that her very late arrival during one show last season seriously delayed the start time and infuriated more than a couple of spectators.
  • On the sunnier side of the street, does Karolina Kurkova ever wipe the smile off her face? In a profession where an upward turn of the lips could spell a long-term wrinkle of a runway career disaster, this model from the Czech Republic is seen backstage saying hello to everyone from her co-workers to the security crew.

Take it or leave it, from the insane, unsettling cocoon that is Fashion Week. “There could be a war going on,” one crew member told me, “but these people wouldn’t know it because all they care about is fashion!”