That’s right. At this, my… seventh (?!) New York Fashion Week, I ruminated on what it’s all about, and have come to the conclusion that this week is all about farce and facade. To wit:
Firstly, as I’ve noted many times before, I obviously have no credential to be at Fashion Week in the first place. I am no one, so to speak. However, as they say, it’s really all about WHO you know, and I know someone fabulous. My connection has grown in standing over the seasons since this odyssey began, and SS’14 had me seated fourth row at Badgley Mischka and second row at Betsey Johnson. This is amazing, humbling, and illuminating. Some small extrapolation reveals that if I, an admitted nobody, wound up in these coveted positions, so too may have many of the other stylish denizens seen around Lincoln Center. I generally feel dwarfed by the style and import of those around me (by which I don’t even mean the designers or the models, but simply the other show-goers), but by this realization have gained the crucial and unfounded confidence that women’s magazines (sorry, BLOGS, it’s 2013) are always championing. Act like you belong and you’re already there; Cliches are cliches because they’re true.
There are a million other little lies inherent in the Fashion Week institution as well. There are the women like myself parking it on a curb just around the photographer-littered corner of Lincoln Center to de-heel immediately after their shows. The frantic ubiquitous PR girls filling the seats of guests who RSVP’d yes then didn’t come (two for one there: the guests lied about their interest in coming, having been basically just hoarding tickets like they hoard free Maybelline cosmetics and SmartWater, and the PR teams are creating a visual lie about the buzzy attendance of their show.) The massive brands smilingly courting the favor of we random attendees with free wares in the hopes of increased sales (I guess?) I can’t forget to mention the enterprising imposters who seat themselves at a show in the hopes that the person whose seat it is never shows (and who act unfazed and unashamed when confronted.) Then, of course, the fact that it’s one of the last institutions where you can really be anonymous (and therefore create for yourself a persona of your choosing) due to the lack of ID-related verification.
As for my favorite Fashion Week fallacy, it has to be acting like you don’t care. I’m not saying nobody smiles at Fashion Week, but it’s certainly not the most commonplace expression. When the audience took to their feet and cheered aloud at Betsey Johnson instead of the perfunctory four-beat clap they usually bestow before knocking each other down to exit the venue, I realized how unusual that bare display of joy is for the institution. The norm is certainly an air of preoccupation and mild disinterest, an onus on the designers to impress the crowd; and in fairness, it is a hectic schedule for those who attend, but seriously, this is fun stuff. Everyone acts as though it’s an imposition for them to sit yards away from celebrities and view beautiful designer clothes at close range in their first debut, while having their egos boosted by eager street style photographers and their tote bags laden with treats they pretend are a drag to carry. THIS STUFF IS AWESOME. Lies.
I can’t be the only one scanning iffy tickets at Lincoln Center; but where the really skillful falsehood comes out to play is at the many bizarre after-parties that go on each night. On Tuesday I was hot and tired by the time I arrived at a certain rooftop bash, and had no worldly interest in standing in the long unmoving line. WIth the righteousness of an almost pathological imposter, I curtly refused to get in line because I was a member of the media. An unflinching name drop later and I had a wristband. The poor beleaguered PR maven I was dealing with hesitated when I mentioned having been confirmed for a plus one, but I pushed the issue and we both breezed in. At the bar, we met some other blogger type (she said with suspicion…on her blog…) and I decided at that moment it was best to continue being my alterego. I spoke about (not) my job and (not) my background, and my friend discussed the shows he had (not) photographed that day. As it went on, I felt like the Talented Mr. Ripley, and mused how easy it would be to take the business card this girl had given me and parrot her story on to the next person I met, on and on ad infinitum, shedding identities like the models shed outfits. While I didn’t go that far, I must reflect how much fun it was to pretend.
And maybe that’s the nebulous conclusion I find in it all. Fashion Week, like the industry it serves, is about putting on airs, but in so doing can also be about expressing one’s true self. Give a man a mask, Oscar Wilde said, and he’ll tell you the truth. So it is that all the artifice of the New York fashion scene belies some very human truths: be it in feathers and sequins, or an assumed name, or in affected irony, we all hide what we’re trying to say, and the art is in deciphering it.
…. Also I saw Anna Wintour. JUST TO LIGHTEN THE MOOD. Pick up that name I dropped on Instagram @kritterscope .