Monday, February 20, 2006

Part 1: A Million Bits & Pieces

New York Fashion Week … Let Us Count The Ways … The Myriad of Designers, Models, Publicists & Press Agents, Editors, Stylists, Photographers, Celebrities, Hangers-On, Parties, Champagne, and of course, all the Swag. But, the main appeal of the Week is getting an exclusive, one-of-a-kind handle on a million juicy tidbits, some of which have absolutely nothing to do with the collections on the runway. Here, straight from the very up-front-and-personal mouths of A-List Industry Insiders, the comments you won’t read anywhere else.

– by Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

Stan Williams, Fashion and Grooming Director, Maxim Magazine
Talk: Donatella’s Mad Bash, Where Menswear is Right Now, Taking Over Tommy


“The craziest thing was at the Versace party, where celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Nicholas Cage, Halle Berry, and that little starlet, teeny bopper who’s dating the guy from Good Charlotte; Hilary Duff, I think, were all corralled upstairs in this little, special VIP area, so that the guests inside could take pictures. The paparazzi were held outside. So, here’s this huge VIP crowd; so star-struck that they were taking pictures as fast as they could with their cell-phone cameras. But the strange thing was that while all of this was going on, the celebrities weren’t talking to the guests at all. I don’t know if they were told not to talk to the press, because I was so far in the back, but the whole thing really showed off the power of Donatella.”

“As for the New York men’s shows in general, things are slow, slow and sad. I don’t think there’s very much fun happening on the fashion schedule this time around. There’s no energy because most major people show in Milan. We’re also missing the small, young designers because so many of them can’t afford the costs of doing a show. This group needs to be embraced. Somehow the men’s industry needs to get together, and say, “Maybe we don’t need these big tents to do a show. Maybe we need smaller venues. Maybe we need some kind of cooperation that helps us show young designer lines, so that the press and buyers can come and see what these people are offering. We need something different”.

“But, we did have people like John Bartlett showing again in New York, and it was very exciting to see him back on the runway; he did make a major improvement from last year. John Varvatos’ apparel looked better then ever. I liked Butler because it was unique and told a post-punk story. All the models were in glamorous make up; they were punked-out in this sort of jail theme at The Bowery Ballroom. The show was one of the most inspired, over-the-top, fun events I’ve seen this season.”

“Interesting that Tommy is not showing this year, but I think this has a lot to do with what’s happening within his company, which is in the process of a sale. There have been massive layoffs; nobody (inside/outside the company) knows exactly what’s happening with Apex. But, I think that Apex, which is a European company, is going to take the brand to a higher end, and that things will eventually go back to the business that Tommy had before, which was more specialty store oriented. And, that’s interesting because in general, I think that the department store business for men is dead. Very few men shop at department stores these days. They’re shopping in the smaller boutique shops. They’re shopping online.

Or, their girlfriends, wives shop for them. The younger guys are shopping at stores such as Abercrombie, because being there is like going to a party. And, these kids don’t really care what they buy; they just buy what’s there, because it’s the name and the environment that draws them in. But, when you talk about men who have money to shop, you’re talking about guys who are going to more specialty places. For example, when I’m shopping, I typically don’t do glamorous adventures any more. When you work in the industry for a long time, you want to keep your shopping experiences simple and kind of loose. I like shopping in Barney’s, because the store is always interesting and ever-changing.”

Matt Jones, ID Magazine
Talk: FW MIA


“My niece was born on my 30th birthday, which meant that I did not have to go to any shows because I went and visited her.”

Chioma Nnadi, Fader
Talk: Looking For Mr. Lee


“I’d been trying to track down this stylist, Mr. Lee, whom I’d heard about, but never actually met. He has a really great look; he goes around wearing a ski mask, or goggles, and he does this with all the shows. But, he never has his picture taken. I wanted to track him down because I wanted him to model or style for us, even though I’d never seen his book. In the end, I finally tracked him down. When he took off the ski mask, he actually is pretty cute, so that’s the craziest thing. And, yes, he is going to model for us.”

Tanika White, Fashion Writer, Baltimore Sun
Talk: What Regional Editors Really Want, Love/Hate PR People, Celebrity -- Less Is More, Don’t Forget The “Working Poor”.


”I’m a member of what is called the Regional Press, people from dailies or weeklies in cities such as New Jersey or Detroit. We’re in New York doing our fashion coverage, and as such, I think we are the real bottom line. Our readers look to us to see what is going on, and so when we show up to a show, and some hanger on has stolen a seat, or people have changed seat, we get annoyed. I know that a lot of the better publicists, such as James LaForce or Allison Brod who are really great to the working poor, try not to let that happen. KCD tends to be good, although they are so big, sometimes I deal with people who know who I am and do their best to accommodate me, vs. other times when I deal with KCD people who may say to me, “who are you? You’re not Anna Wintour, so …”. On that note, I think that Michael Kors’ PR people are very nose-in-the-air.”

“I’ve noticed this season that there hasn’t been such a craze for celebrities as there’s been in seasons past, and I’m hoping this is so because fashion designers and manufacturers have realized who is really important here -- the buyers and the industry insiders, and that celebrities are not their life blood. I do not know if that’s the case, but I hope that’s the case, because I think that would make a big difference in how the shows are run. For example, when Jennifer Lopez came to Marc Jacobs’ show one season, and then Beyonce the next season, and they had all the body-guards, and it was hard for everyone else to really see the clothes, and there was all the waiting time for those celebrities to even show up and get to their seats.”

“So, for me, it was all about, “Hi, I need to write about this.” Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez are going to get stuff sent to them free anyway. I need to see, so that I can write and let my readers know what to wear. I need to tell my readers about what’s good or what’s bad. That’s what I’m here and working for. I don’t need a front row seat, but I need to be able to see and do my job.”

“However, when you address the celebrities being at the shows, you understand it to a fault, because, unfortunately we live in a society where people are more concerned with what celebrities are doing; what they’re wearing, who they’re with, that sort of thing. It used to be the models, but that’s sort of over with now. It’s all about the celebrities. But, I do think it gets to be a little ridiculous when celebrities are at a show, and there is pushing and shoving and screaming and yelling, and the industry people who show up to do their job get the shaft.”

”As for the whole front row situation, I think that there should be a better way for celebrities to see the collections. Maybe there should be private viewings where a designer can get themselves and the collection into a little car service and drive over to the celebrity’s home.” “Let’s face it, celebrities do draw buzz, and even at some of the smaller shows, I find myself saying , “it’s so sad that there are no celebrities here.” But, then I immediately think, “it’s OK, because now everyone can concentrate on the clothes. So, while few celebrities showed up at Carlos Mehle, and none came to Nannette Lepore, that was fine, because everyone who attended these shows, really got to see some of the best clothes out there, which in the final analysis, is why we’re really coming to the shows in the first place.”

A larger show, which draws lots of celebrities, but doesn’t necessarily forget industry people is Heatherette; always a fun-filled, jam-packed great party. But, here’s the thing; the thing that separates Heatherette from all the other designers and shows that do the celebrity worship thing. And, that is, when you’re front of house or back-stage, you’re treated like a star. Richie and Trevor always say “thank you for coming; we’re so glad you’re here”. There are kisses and hugs for everybody.” "So I do not mind if the drag queens or the guys from ‘Queer Eye’ sit in the front row; there were people over people sitting on other people’s laps at this show, and nobody cared. The whole event poked fun at itself and that’s the thing.

On the other hand, it’s the designers who take themselves and their celebrity following so seriously, and expect to be treated like royalty; well, that’s just annoying.” I think that seeing new lines at show rooms where we are right now (Kate and Jack Spade’s Breakfast Bash) is a nice, informal, relaxed way. You can see everything up close, there are nice people who can help us, and there’s no attitude, The runway shows are for show, but certainly, smaller venues, such as this, are important, too. We need more.”

Samantha Smith, Fashion Reporter, Raleigh News and Observer, North Carolina
Talk: Fun With Invites & Reality Show Girls


“When I Got the Kai Millia invitation, it was sealed together with a wax seal, and my nephew thought it was a piece of candy, and tried to eat it. At one show, I met Esther Nash, an interesting, young girl, who specializes in going to Reality Dating shows.”

Mickey Boardman, Paper Magazine
Talk: Where’s Jenna, Backstage at Heatherette: Porn Stars and Janice Dickinson’s Vagina, Loving MJ all over, Give Me Some Relax Time


“Scandal? Don’t really think so. Heatherette. Wacky as always. Jenna Jameson was supposed to be in the show, and then she wasn’t. I don’t know if that is controversy or not. The craziest thing I saw was backstage after the Heatherette show in the W lounge. Jenna Jameson was there; so was Allen Cumming and Janice Dickinson, And Janice Dickinson was running amuck and flirting with Allen Cumming, and his boyfriend was there. The boyfriend was jokingly getting jealous, and Janice was saying, “don’t be jealous; I mean a vagina is just an inverted penis, although this one has teeth,” as she pointed to her vagina. I was very scared of her. I think she was being just whatever she always is. I don’t know exactly what that means, but she was a little bit scary. I have to say that was my controversy of the week.”

“On the other side, I worshiped the Marc Jacobs show, which was completely, completely amazing, because it was so different then American fashion in the way that it wasn’t really American fashion at all. I mean all week you sort of saw all this pretty stuff, and it was nice, pretty; like that. People will sell it; it’s flattering for women. But, Marc’s show was just fantasy. I felt like I was a voyeur, watching women going on a trip, and they’d just put on all the clothes they had in their closets. Everything on the runway was sort of high fashion Hermes hobo, and I just loved it.”

“ I saw Marc Jacobs last night at the Heatherette Show, and I just drooled all over him.. Heatherette was like being at a night club. Marc Jacobs was Europe come to New York. I think Marc will always show in New York; although he could take this kind of show to Europe; he goes to Europe for Louis Vuitton. But, I think there will always be something about him that is American so he will always be in New York.”

“It’s nice to relax at Kate’s where we are now; it’s so casual and easy. I hate the schlepping around everywhere during this week. I do not have a car service at my disposal, so there is a lot of getting around and bringing around, and you know the long hours and the overlapping of everything. I really feel that this season there are way too many things constantly overlapping. You just can’t so everything. You need a few windows in there somewhere.”

Amelia Zirin-Brown, The WE Booth
Talk: Tote Exclusive, Yes, Virginia, There Are Editors With Manners During FW, Show Your Bloomers & Get A Bag


“This season, as always, we are giving out tote bags, but on a much more limited basis than before. We have six hundred bags to give out each day, and we give them out only in the morning. People will come and hunt us down for these totes, but I would have to say that everyone we’re seeing this season is more well mannered than in seasons past. You were here last season when people (the majority of whom are editors; the ones I recognize from season to season because I always notice their badges, and they come into the booth to relax and hang-out) were screaming and scratching to get a bag. I think that this season, people have their manners on in a much better way. Maybe one reason for this is because we’re not doing the evening give-away’s any longer, so there’s no drinking going on, which can result in fights or rudeness from people – mostly women – coming into the booth with their arms outstretched, demanding more than one bag, or saying they didn’t get a bag, even though we know that they already did. And, that’s not fun.”

“But what is fun is when right after the Heatherette show this season, some of the large, super-fabulous drag queens with the big hair and the big boob came into the booth and said, “what I have to do to get a bag”?. One opened up his pants and showed me his fancy bloomers. For that, I gave him a bag.”


Philip Johnson , Features Editor, Lucire
Talk: Show Insanity Continues, Pregnancy at Baby Phat, The Fighting Italians, Front Row Madness Goes On, Who Really Belongs at FW


“Heatherette and Baby Phat, which are usually over-the-top and crazy, just weren’t as insane this season. But, even though Baby Phat showed at The Tents for the first time this season, which made everyone think that the scene would be cooler and more in control than last season’s show, well, we were all wrong. The atmosphere was totally out of control; overly chaotic. I saw four pregnant women in danger of being trampled. When I saw that going on, I had to ask myself, “if you’re pregnant, and you’re going to come to Baby Phat, with all the drama involved; why on earth would you put yourself in that situation”?.

“There were huge fights going on among the Italian Photographers in the photo pit, with security running down to separate them. Unfortunately, there were fights all over the place, especially when it came to seating. I think the problem was that too many people who had seat assignments came late, and then found other people already sitting in their seats. So, those latecomers became extremely offended; they didn’t want to give up the battle. There was a lot of yelling and screaming; too much “what are you doing in my seat?” – going on.

Generally speaking, I have seen a lot less people who are hanging around for the sake of just hanging around. I have seen a lot more people that deserve to be here, purely for the sake of doing their job. And, that’s a very good thing.”

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