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Antidote for a Fashion Week hangover

Vena Cava's unique show injects a little art into superficial monotony
/ Source: contributor

The week is nearly over and I have a pretty mean Fashion Week hangover.  It's a unique affliction, acquired from living off sample size freebie products and sharing excessive self-congratulations with other New Yorkers while the world looks on in disinterest and/or disdain.

Inside the Bryant Park tent yesterday it seemed like I wasn't the only one. The crowd was smaller and more subdued than it had been all week.  Maybe it was the rain, or maybe — and here comes my personal theory — for even the greatest fashion enthusiast, there comes a saturation point. It's like when a marathon runner hits her wall. Sometime around day 6, every model starts to look the same, every name has been dropped, every elbow has been rubbed, and people are starting to come back to reality. Sure, you're still happy you're at Fashion Week. You're just starting to wonder if you left the gas on at home.

Just when I thought that I'd seen enough, when the crummy weather and exhaustion threatened to overwhelm me, and all I wanted to do was go home and lie in a heap of my sparkly makeup free samples, there was a truly unique show: Vena Cava. Yes, Vena Cava.  More than just the vein that carries oxygen to your heart's right atrium.

Vena Cava, the name for the Brooklyn design team of Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai, provided their audience with an interactive presentation, not a runway show. As visitors were admitted in a single-file line, we were welcomed into a truly odd experience. The space was divided up into three Astroturf "lawns."  Gawkers milled about the lawns, observing a wonderfully weird habitat. I'll just describe it as "The Hamptons meet Alice in Wonderland.  If both the Hamptons and Wonderland were solely populated with bored models."

At my feet, a model was sprawled out reading a book. Further right, there was another model pretending to eat a hot dog. There were models holding plastic frogs, models wielding pruning shears, models doing charcoal sketches, even models playing dead as plastic snakes coiled in bell jars next to their heads. On one lawn, a model was inexplicably leaning on a metal ladder with empty bottles of champagne spread about her feet. The audience strolled around each scene, drinking wine, chit-chatting with one another, admiring the gorgeous cut of the dead (or heavily sedated) model's dress.

One particularly bored looking model offered me a hamburger off her fake grill, breaking out of her hoaky BBQ scene for one wonderfully surreal moment. It was cold, she warned, but "more than I can eat." I appreciated the warning.

Did I mention that wine was served? The Fashion Week hangover isn't just a metaphor, and a little hair of the dog never hurt anyone.

The clothes were great, but the presentation was even better. I felt renewed and reinvigorated. To my mind, Vena Cava provided everything fashion should — it was odd, innovative, absurd and strangely beautiful in a "I don't know whether I want to go out and buy this stuff or go home and coat my body in Purell" sort of way. I suddenly was full of renewed belief that fashion was art, and only a little bit about drugs, prostitutes, publicity, and rock and roll.

If this were Olympics, I'd demand a wrap up montage for the week — lots of shots of me waiting in line, slapping a few security guards the high five, looking longingly at Liza Minnelli.  All this, while a singer belts a song about how the future's looking bright, or how I've got a new attitude. I suppose I’ll leave it to the networks to splice together that quality footage of socialites, celebrities, and everyday media folks like me communing with their innermost superficiality. Suggested song: Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment like This.”

Of course, whenever fashion closes a door it opens at window. So at least the world can look forward to next week in Spain, where the models encounter a challenge usually only faced by varsity wrestlers: how much cheesecake must one ingest to pack on 10 percent of their initial body weight?

So long Fashion Week. It has been fun. Until next year — when we all come back freshly Botoxed, bankrolled and beautiful, and we get to do this madness all over again.