Sep. 11, 2012 at 1:15 PM ET
Curious what New York Fashion Week is like for a first-timer? Fast-paced, exciting — maybe totally confusing? We sent a regular guy without any real style or designer knowledge to experience the chaos at the Lincoln Center tents. Read on to see how Matthew Moll, a New York-based multimedia journalist, survived his very first Fashion Week.
By Matthew Moll, TODAY contributor
New York Fashion Week is an assembly of the world’s biggest fashion icons and trendsters. The veritable "who’s who" of the fashion elite. And by that I mean, who are these people and why are they getting their picture taken?
The words “fashion” and “week” cannot enter and exit my brain space before I envision blinding flashbulbs and Derek Zoolander. My previous interactions with fashion involve my mom and then later, my girlfriend, dressing me. I’m usually satisfied if it fits and isn’t wrinkled. Clean is bonus.
When I arrived at New York City's Lincoln Center on Sunday afternoon, there were several shows going on at once so the crowded lobby had a Comic-Con slash high school after-prom feel to it (replace "Star Trek" paraphernalia with copies of style magazines and makeup samples). No matter the reason, if you stuff hundreds of people into seats the audience will inevitably try to emulate the talent. Going to a Knicks game? Don’t forget your Melo jersey. "Avengers" opening? Can’t go without your Captain America shield. Fashion Week? Time to dust off some unreasonably high heels and your retro '90s neon leg warmers. Or if you are a guy, some thick-framed glasses and dutiful looks of introspection.
There was an odd phenomenon of people taking pictures of folks they didn’t necessarily know, not because they were famous or because they were wearing clothes that were featured in the shows, but presumably they were sporting their own level of supreme style acumen. Everywhere you looked, someone was posing for amateur and professional photographers alike. I also noticed no one asked if they could take a picture of me. Their loss. I spent at least $45 on this outfit at the outlet. Or my girlfriend did. Whatever.
For my first show I chose a fashionista favorite: MM6 Maison Martin Margiela. Of course I had never heard of the designer. I arrived at the presentation a half hour early expecting to have a chance to chat up some insiders and survey the scene, but I was one of the few waiting.
Fashionably late, it appears, isn’t a saying because it applies to working on Wall Street. Fifteen minutes after the scheduled start time, the small lobby was teeming with zoom lenses, glitter, couture (is that the correct use of the word? I’m going with it). Everyone seemed familiar with one another. They said hello, did the double-cheek air smooch, and then started smartphoning in groups.
When we were finally ushered into a showroom and the show started, the collection featured what appeared to be urban camouflage and safari themes. Couple this with the full-body fanny pack — the designers dubbed it the "marsupial" — it seems ladies can look hot whether they are trying to survive a rabid pride of lions or ravenous city-dwelling zombies (as long as they are attacked in the spring/summer in either Paris or Soho, New York). Apparently, the ideal person flashing these modern tribal safari threads are expressionless, tall and lanky women. I didn’t know what to make of the clothes themselves, but a woman near me had some thoughts.
“I really liked everything. The clothes are wearable and I love the shoes!”
Whereas the MM6 event felt like a cocktail party with some attractive strangers, the show for Herve Leger — known for celebrity-favorite bandage dresses — was a fashionpalooza.
Before I could even witness the show I had to do some comically long waiting. I wasn’t given a seat assignment so this meant I would have to find a place to stand. Me and the other plebes were forced to wait until the sitters were seated. We were herded into a hallway with hundreds of impeccably-dressed citizens where there was no air circulation and no explanation for the extended delay.
Things got sweaty, women removed their heels and adjusted their carefully chosen dresses, and began to whine like petulant tweens.
Once inside, the scene was as I imagined what a fashion show would be. Press at the end of the runway, the factions of indoor sunglasses wearers, and those standing desperately trying to find a way to become a sitter. What I didn’t expect was the brevity of the show — just a few short minutes. This was almost exactly like my last Six Flags roller coaster experience.
A motorcycle engine prompted a troupe of stern-looking models to trot out in dresses and swimsuits. If I learned anything from “Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead” is that fashion shows have a public address announcer explaining what people are wearing. Apparently that is fiction. No PA announcer to help me fake my way through this one.
From my vantage point standing behind tall women I could make out that the line incorporated leather in multiple ways. I suppose the motorcycle sounds mixed into the bluegrass-esque music was a nod to the use of leather in the clothes. Everyone seemed to know when to clap and then the designer waved to the crowd and that was it. Some of those who were waiting in line with me expressed their frustration with the length of the show to length of wait ratio. I was relieved not to be standing with a slightly obstructed view anymore.
I don’t believe my foray into fashion piqued my interest into becoming a boutique retail entrepreneur or even the go-to stylist of my immediate group of friends, but I can at least say I witnessed what it is like to be a fashion insider. Maybe next time I will be less prompt and someone will want to take my picture.
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