Friday, September 28, 2007

Like a Virgin: Notes from a Fashion Week Newbie

I got my first taste of New York Fashion Week during the Fall 2008 shows when I scored an actual invite to the Venexiana show. I can't remember much about the clothes (they were nice), but it didn't matter cause I'd made it into the tents, baby. The music was blasting and my adrenaline was pumping as I watched the "yes they really are that thin" models strut on the cat walk. This was better than a rock show. The blistering cold weather and stubborn security guards, however, deterred me from going to more shows. My gutsy fashion gal pals told me to just walk up to the Bryant Park entrance and waltz in. Without an actual invite, I didn't have the nerve.

But the recent Spring 2008 shows were a different story. I guess actually writing about fashion and shopping instead of just obssessing over clothes has given me the confidence to rage ahead into the Full Frontal Fashion frontier. The second day of Fashion Week, I sashayed up the main entrance with a fellow newbie. When asked by a burly gatekeeper if I had an invitation, I calmy replied that I was on the guest list for "fill in the blank" designer's show. Once inside, my new friend and I giggled like school girls. We were in the tents, baby. Then we did what all Fashion Week attendees without an invite to a particular show do and waited in line for standing room tickets. "I'm a freelance writer," I informed the blonde, model-y looking guy with the clipboard who at that moment stood between me and the Terexov show -- my first of the season. "You're lucky my friend is a freelance writer," the charming cad joked and scribbled "S" for standing room on two index cards. Victory was ours.

The rest of Fashion Week was eventful but exhausting. I went to Richard Chai's show and his lovely collection was ruled by shades of silver, ecru, and indigo and plenty of men's inspired cuts for women. I waited in line for more than an hour to get a free pair of Havianas flip-flops, which either makes me way cool or a big loser. On the down side, my standing room requests were rejected a few times, surprisingly for the Met Life Snoopy show and predictably for Michael Kors where I spotted Star Jones and Anna Wintour rushing in.

My most memorable moments were spent at the Style 360 shows in Chelsea's Metropolitan Pavillion. There I attended -- assigned seat and all -- the debut of Alexis Phifer's "Ghita" line. Alexis is engaged to rapper Kanye West and the hip-hop superstar (I know he would love that description considering he is, as he told hilarious shock jock Wendy Williams, "the number one human being in the world") was sitting in the front row with his Mom, proudly watching his girl's rockin' '80s inspired frocks rip the runway. Before the show, Kanye bobbed his head to the DJ spinning Prince's "She's Always in My Hair" (boy did that track take me back) and several cuts from what else but his new album "The Graduate."

Other Style 360 highlights include characters from my favorite reality TV shows: Malan Breton of "Project Runway"' showed a sophisticated collection that climaxed with a darling wedding gown and Loris Diran's ready-to-wear collection was styled by former "America's Next Top Model" judge Nole Marin. A surprisingly masculine-looking Miss Jay Alexander was front and center for that show honey! I also saw smugly handsome photog and ANTM judge Nigel Barker sitting pretty at several shows.

Another notable off-site presentation was "Project Runway"' contestant Zulema Griffin's avant Afrobeat Spring 2008 collection at Chelsea's RushArts Gallery. The collection, "Slave to the Rhythm, Fela's Wives," was inspired by late Afrobeat artist Fela Kuti who had 27 wives. Zulema's largest collection to date features a mix of bold African prints and metallic fabrics.

I can't wait until the Fall 2008 shows. I've made more contacts. Hopefully that means more invites.

Best Fashion Week Freebies:
Havianas flip-flops
Espresso gelato
Baby Phat wallet in hot pink
Henri Bendel chocolate bars
Karma Champagne- brand new single serve, sparkling wine from California