Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Grade Point Average
Part II: New York Fashion Week


The highs and lows of Fashion Week … the story continues. – Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg E-mail

A+: “Getting whisked backstage at Marc Jacobs. It was a really great scene. Amazing people. Lots of champagne. A really great party right there and it was nice to be able to wait backstage. But, I didn’t see the show from there. I slipped out to my seat and watched the show front of house.
D-: A heel broke my first day. I was wearing a pair of vintage Marni’s; it wasn’t their fault. But, I have an extra pair of shoes at work all the time, so I can take advantage of that, always.” -- Irini Arakas, Fashion Writer, Vogue

A+: “I loved Sandoval. They did three, small exclusive presentations for buyers and editors at The Bryant Park Hotel. Really, really beautiful clothes presented in a very simple way. I don’t really take advantage of all the things going on around the tents because when I come to the shows from my office, which is way downtown, I’m rushing in and rushing out. I blaze in and just try to get to my seat.
F: The full-on body crush that always happens at Baby Phat was certainly one of the worst things during the week. There are always so many people who are happy to be there but they’re not industry people. When you’re waiting to get into a show where there’s more of a fashion crowd, everyone knows you’re doing your job; we’re all working really hard. However, when you go to a show where there are a lot of non-fashion people, I feel like people just start pushing and shoving and you start to really get nervous.

Also, with all of the celebrities and the entourages and the hangers-on, that’s certainly why some of the bigger shows end up starting so late. We end up waiting for Beyonce to get to Marc Jacobs and personally, for me in my job, I don’t need to wait for that. But, I end up waiting for that because I need to see Marc Jacobs. But, it’s one of those things that I think is unavoidable at this point, unlike back in the ‘80’s (as I’m told) when the shows were mostly about the editors and buyers. And, things weren’t flashy at all. While I do think the celebrity factor and that approach adds more cachet to the industry in general, I also think that as an editor who’s trying to see the clothes, it’s hard. I don’t think we should go back to the way things were in the 80’s; it’s just one of those things you deal with.” -- Aya Kanai, Fashion Market Editor, Nylon


B+: “The Daily talking about my beauty mark. That was fine. I was surprised and kind of caught off guard, though. I didn’t know who I told that to. I wasn’t asked and I didn’t know it was going into The Daily. It was nice, though.
A+: Pat Field’s party was fabulous. Because it was Rocawear, there was a mix of all those kind of rappers with Pat Field’s drag queens and all that crowd. You know what, it really worked. It really was uplifting and fun; something different and I loved it.” -- Patrick McDonald, Highbrow column, Paper

F: “The Baby Phat Show; it was all about riots and craziness; there were ambulances and fire trucks everywhere. No one in my department even ended up getting in. They kept everyone outside for over an hour and a half. You know that the pieces that are always in her collection and that you see in the show aren’t always necessarily wearable pieces and sometimes aren’t produced. So I think for her, more than anything, all of the craziness that her fashion show generates is a little bit of a show in and of itself. By inviting 1,500 people to an arena that only holds around 500, it causes publicity. MTV is their criteria and so it was a little disappointing not to get in because we use her clothes all the time and it is a fun show to see.
B+: I met a lot of interesting people. Fashion Week’s always such a fun event; always a great time. I’ve been doing it for about five years. Aside from Heatherette and Baby Phat, everything’s been pretty tame and civilized. I did get knocked over by a few photographers, trying to get to Usher, Paris and Tinkerbelle.” – Allison Lang, Fashion Stylist, MTV2

F: “Getting trampled by the bodyguards and the paparazzi when Beyonce Knowles was leaving Oscar. I was coming back towards the lobby, talking to Linda Welles from Allure, and the photographers and Beyonce’s big, muscular bodyguards came running towards me, all trying to get to her. I got pushed into the chairs with half of my body over the chairs, to the point where some of the Citadel guards came over and said, ‘are you OK?’ And, the worst thing about it was that I was pushed into those chairs by those people and they just went on by; not one person said, ‘I’m sorry’. I mean, she’s not all that important; she’s not Diana Ross. If it was Diana Ross, I would have been proud to fall on the floor and bleed for her. But, not for Beyonce.

I think all of the celebrity photographers causing such a frenzy at the shows has gotten slightly out of hand. On a serious note, we’re in danger of people really getting hurt. I know that for myself and other people I’ve spoken to in and around the tents, we’re not going to some of the shows because if it means we’re waiting and waiting for someone such as Renee Zellwigger to show up, that show is going to be late and they’re going to be sitting there in a hot environment. They’d rather stay out in the lobby and drink. It’s just an added drama that we don’t need anymore. If you’re that important, stay at home and get a video of the shows you want to see.

I do think, though, that Fashion Week is still geared and edged toward the industry but all of the celebrities at the shows point more to the insecurities of the designer in question. For example, if you need 50 celebrities in your front row, that means that you have some doubt about your collection; that you need to create a dust storm to transfer the attention from your collection onto your front row. If the collection is any good, you’ll have the industry sitting in the front row; the Joan Kaners, the Constance Whites, the Anna Wintours, the Mary Lou Luthers, et al. The collection speaks for itself; the excellence speaks for itself.

A+: The congenial sense of people making an effort to get along. I’ve noticed a lessening on the bitchiness and with the exception of some of the front of house girls at the tables, of course, whose lifelong dream it is to be important and they’re not, there’s a nicer attitude going on from the people we see every season at the shows. These are the professionals who come to the shows every day and they’re tired and they just want to do their jobs. They don’t want the added drama and so no one is creating any. I wouldn’t say it’s been a kinder and gentler Fashion Week but people just don’t need the nonsense and they’re just taking care of business. They’re simply making a conscious decision not to create drama where it doesn’t exist.” -- Phillip Johnson, Features Editor, Lucire

D: “The worst thing that happened to me during the week was when I was shooting backstage at Betsey Johnson and I got sandwiched between two TV cameras that almost knocked me out when Carmen Electra walked in. But, I got my shot of Carmen, so I was happy about that. But, almost getting knocked out and having a couple of bruises was the worst thing. As for all of the Fashion Week craziness and running around as a celebrity photographer, it’s fun but it’s not my main thing. But, we’ve got to do our work. We’ve got to get everything that our editors ask us to do and so we go out and we do our job everyday. We can’t say no to anything. If we stand out in the cold for four hours, we stand out in the cold for four hours.” -- Matt Szwajkos, Photographer, Getty Images

F: “When I was driving to the shows and there was a huge fire; trucks everywhere and I had to get out of that situation right away. I had to take an illegal turn and a cop pulled me over and gave me a huge ticket without understanding that every car that was turning, was turning like me; trying to avoid the fire. That was my worst experience.

Also, there was a show that I cannot name that was so unbelievably horrible that it just made me want to throw up. But, there was nothing that I could do, so I just tried to avoid the client backstage.

A+: I really loved Ralph Lauren. It was one of my best experiences. It was so chic; old and new and proper and luxurious and simple and sophisticated and just the perfect collection to shoot and to wear and buy. -- Dan Lecca, Photographer


A+: “The best experience I had all week was going to the Timex dinner because Timex takes good care of its regional reporters. The dinner, which has been going on for around twelve years during Fashion Week, was held at Barbutto, on Sunday, right after Diane Von Furstenberg. The good thing about the dinner is that it’s a really nice perk and it’s a nice way for the regionals to get together and compare notes. We’re a group that’s sometimes shut out of things taking place during Fashion Week. We don’t really matter, and yet, we’re the people who are writing the stories every single day, every single week, about fashion. And, a lot of times, the attention is given to the magazines; the glossy magazines and to the really big newspapers, and it’s the regionals who are out there doing the job every single day.

I mean, we’re the ones who are bringing the fashion news to – and I don’t want to say Middle America, even though obviously some of the regional papers are Middle America – but our readers, who are general interest readers, are really actually concerned about fashion. They follow all this red carpet stuff. They follow designers. They follow celebrities who are wearing couture and it was a refreshing sort of thing to see that some companies are actually concerned about what the regional press is writing and what they think. And some of the regionals aren’t really regional papers in that sense; they’re huge newspapers, such as The Houston Chronicle, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution and The Denver Post. These are big papers who are bringing fashion news to regular readers.

F-: I’m going to compare the worst experience I had to last season, and here’s the story. Sometimes you drop off people’s mailing lists and the PR people don’t know who you are. For example, I went to the Silhouette booth at the tents and even though they’d just sent me an email inviting me to come by, have a look at the new collection and get a pair of sunglasses, I went over there and they said, ‘well, you’re not on our list. We’re not going to give you these.’ So, even though I’m hysterical laughing about it now, it was like, well, you know, ‘boo to Silhouette that they don’t know who you are even though they sent you the email.’ It is kind of funny, but these things happen all the time. It happened last season and even though I saw them as a sponsor this time, I didn’t even bother going over there because I thought they’d probably turn me away again. But, it’s funny things like this that make Fashion Week what it is. You kind of have to chuckle about it.” -- Greg Morago, The Hartford Current

A: “I had a wonderful seat at the Tuleh show and I enjoyed it very much. I thought it was a beautiful collection; lots of fun.
F: The Marc Jacobs show was the show that required that people have enormous patience because of the amount of time that you had to put into the show. It was over and above what should be called for, I would say. When you ask me about what I think about the fact that no one actually walked out, I think what it indicates is that he has an enormous amount of devotees who believe so strongly in his creativity. And, rightly so; I think he’s very creative; very. But, yes, I was surprised that perhaps some people didn’t leave. -- Margaret Hayes, President, Fashion Group International

A+: “Well, the one I’m looking forward to most actually is the Ralph Rucci show. I’ve really been waiting for this because I think he’s really in a category all his own. He’s an amazing artist of fashion and I feel like a slow learner that I’ve just discovered him relatively recently and I’ve become a total convert.

It was great fun being a model for a night in the Yeohlee show. I won’t give up my day job, but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t scary. It was actually fun because it was people that I knew working there too. The other models were people such as Roxanne Lowitt, the photographer; Patricia Meers, so that was great.

A:-: I honestly haven’t had any terrible experiences this week, just a certain amount of frustration because I have my own exhibition (Glamour: Fashion, Film, Fantasy) that’s opening right after Fashion Week ends. And, that has meant that I’ve been running back and forth from the fashion shows to my job at the office and sometimes I feel like I can’t run fast enough and I’ve missed a few shows I would have liked to have seen because I’ve been so busy.

I also missed the Proenza Schouler show because I was in Yeohlee, and I really regret that. The still pictures look great and I’ve heard such good things about it. Oh, and another fun show I did get to was Boudicca. I loved the Boudicca show; the kids from England. I think they’re quite original and the clothes look so different than a lot of what we’re seeing this week. They’re very young. They’re very sincere. I don’t put that much value on sincerity per se, it’s just that once in awhile, you’ll meet people who are both talented and deeply sincere about what they’re doing and it’s just nice.” --
Dr. Valerie Steele, Director and Chief Curator, The Museum at FIT


F: “My biggest gripe is when only the front row (or maybe the first two or three rows) get the goody bags, the special, little gifts, the after-party invites, etc. How rude. What’s more, it’s totally un-cool, both on the part of the PR people involved and the designer doing the show. Now I know I’m not the only editor who notices this growing practice. But, I also wonder if anyone involved with this so-called ‘exclusivity factor’ ever thinks about that poor little intern or assistant or market editor, sitting in the nose bleed section this season and where they might be sitting next time around. Plus, why should only the best seats in the house signify entitlement? I always thought that these primo seats were all about giving the most important editors and buyers the best look at the clothes as they paraded down the runway, so that they could be written about and bought for stores. That’s the kind of hype I’ve always been used to at the shows. I really never thought about these seats signifying which celebrity gets the most stuff at a given show.

Well, this season, I think I’ve figured it out and here’s what I’ve come up with. Since there were so many celebrities (well known and who the hell are you, anyway) at this season’s shows (sitting in the choice seats) it probably stands to reason that the bags and the party invites might have been meant way more for them than the editors and buyers. Maybe, just maybe, it’s now become much more important for a celebrity (big name or otherwise) to actually receive and use what’s in that goody bag, as well as attend that particular designer’s party than the fashion industry pros who actually attend and cover the shows; i.e., work for a living. Sorry if I sound like Andy Rooney here; simply trying to make what I think is a very legitimate point.

A+: A great big shout out to the very nice PR people at Glamour, especially Amy Peck, who couldn’t have been more gracious when I rang up and requested an invite to the mag’s ‘Tea & Touchups’ event at The Royalton”. – Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg, contributing editor, lookonline.com

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