Outside The Theater Doors At New York Fashion Week

Disclaimer: In an effort to show you all that I am not, in fact, whiling away my time here, I’ve decided to publish an article that I’m actually extremely proud of. A few weeks ago, I got to cover Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and even got a chance to go to a few shows. This is what came from it. Enjoy!

New York Fashion Week always brings an eclectic crowd to Lincoln Center, where a myriad of designers, models, celebrities and socialites gather in throngs of mismatched outfits and funky accessories, dodging both wardrobe mishaps and the blinding lights from the paparazzi. At Monique Lhuillier’s show on Saturday, September 7, the crowd watched with bated breath as Paris Hilton walked out of her limousine and made her way past the onlookers and up the steps reserved only for the fashion elite. Photographers clicked picture after picture, style aficionados looked on resentfully, and fans were heard shouting, “Oh my God! Did you see Paris Hilton?”

            Apart from the privileged few who traipse into the theater without a second thought, New York Fashion Week attracts dozens of young hopefuls who want to catch a glimpse of the action — or better yet, be a part of it. These aspirants come in a number of forms, be it the fashion blogger who has just gotten a ticket to her first fashion show or the optimistic model looking for his big break. These are the people who stand out the most – the ones with the look of longing on their faces and the complete and utter devotion with which they view the fashion world.

For Alina Fayer, founder of the fashion blog The Style Socialite, Fashion Week represents her journey from an unknown intern at Women’s Wear Daily to a self-made entrepreneur. “I was literally the girl outside handing newspapers to all the guests at Fashion Week, can you imagine?” laughs Fayer, her eyes covered entirely by her large Prada sunglasses and her hair expertly styled in long, tousled waves. Vowing to herself that she would “get to be on the inside” whatever it took, Fayer claims that she worked her way up and got to the point where she could get a ticket to Fashion Week all on her own. “I am now self-made, and believe that if you take risks, you can get there,” she smiles, with a twirl of her red and ruffled skirt as her friend asks her to pose for a picture.

Ask anyone at Fashion Week why they choose to stand outside in the heat on what could otherwise have been a calm and relaxing Saturday, and their answer is simple – “I just love fashion!” Aspiring model Kenny Bernadin has been trying to make it into the business for over two years now, and he has finally been signed by DNA Model Management. He dreams to make it to Fashion Week and model for his favorite designer, Hugo Boss. “The way you dress is a direct representation of who you are as a person,” says Bernadin. Dressed in a casual grey shirt and khaki slacks, Bernadin is the epitome of laid-back casual, and he seems entirely at ease with the chaos around him. As people push him to the side to ogle at the next leather-clad celebrity tottering on sky-high heels, he pauses only to laugh, “Man, it’s crazy out here!” Soaking in the different trends at New York Fashion Week is the closest he’ll get to the action for at least a couple of years, but he’s surprisingly okay with that. For now, he’s just happy on the outside, looking in.

Many companies, too, recognize the unbelievable pull that Fashion Week’s glitz and glamour has on the general public, and have tried to come up with several publicity stunts to promote their products. Zappos, the online clothing and accessories retail brand, opened up what the firm calls a “Happiness Stand” outside Lincoln Center – a bright orange and blue extravaganza with a massage stand, phone charging stations, a BluePrint juice bar and a television with live streaming of the shows inside the elusive tent. According to the company’s Public Relations manager Catherine Cook, the purpose of the setup was to provide New Yorkers with a place to rejuvenate during the crazy Fashion Week experience. “The live streaming and the comfortable resting stations show people that they too can be a part of Fashion Week, and that they can also be a part of what would otherwise be considered a very exclusive event,” says Cook. While of course, watching a fashion show live on-screen and in the audience are entirely different experiences, bystanders flocked to the station in order to feel, if only for a moment, that they were part of the action.

Officer Chris Cianicullo, however, has a different take on the matter. Assigned by the city to act as a security detail for the fashion shows that day, he says that for him, the crazy crowds interfere with his job of looking after the safety of the attendees. “Most of them are harmless though, and thankfully there’s been no trouble today,” he smiles.

Still, the truth of the matter lies that whether you want to be there or not, New York Fashion Week forces you to observe the spectacle. Be it a bright shiny blue mane, sky-high leather boots or even the latest ‘it-girl’ walking down the red carpet, all eyes are on the bright lights of Lincoln Center for those seven days in September, where reality comes to a standstill and people’s dreams begin.

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