|Marching at Marc (Jabobs)|
Bad pun aside, I love Fashion Week. Or more precisely I love Mercedes Benz Fashion Week New York. I couldn't care less about Milan. Paris and London are too remote, but New York— ah!
This is the city where I happily toiled within the sphere of the fashion industry (women's magazines) for nearly forty years and loved it to bits. Madison Avenue and Fifth may be chic; Soho may be trendy, but Seventh Avenue was the heart and soul of it all. I truly enjoyed dodging rolling racks of garments on the street at lunchtime while trying to score at one of many "sample sales" (read: let's unload the unsold goods) being held in creaky loft warehouses off Seventh. There would just be time to grab a hot dog off a street vendor while running back to work. I'm living proof that you can eat the occasional New York City hot dog and survive.
Back to Fashion Week. The hoopla is a fairly new phenomenon. "Press Week", as it was known then, began in 1943 as a showcase for American designers to present their wares to the media. "New York Fashion Week" really got going in 1994 when shows were held in tents in Bryant Park (otherwise known as "behind the library") which backs up on Seventh Avenue. Mercedes came on board in 2009. Bryant Park meanwhile turned trendy (and perhaps demanding), so the tents moved up to Lincoln Center in 2010. Yes, I did get to go to some shows in Bryant Park— not because it was my job but because the magazine got tickets and there were extra. Yes, it was exactly as you might imagine— an hour and a half of shuffling in, getting seated and w-a-i-t-i-n-g for 10 minutes of prancing models and blaring music. Yes, it was theatrical and magic. For those few moments I really felt a part of that most incredible city, where you can feel such a stranger and so welcome all at the same time.
When Fashion Week rolls around, I do sort of wish I were still there. Like eyeing a pastry shop's treats when the store is closed, I get my fix by of-the-minute commentating and streaming video. I can see—online— the shows of designers I've never heard of and those who would never actually invite me. I can pass judgement on their efforts just as I start planning next season's wardrobe.
It's always bizarre that as we're itching to shed our winter clothes for spring we're asked to think about next winter's clothes. Likewise in the heat of late summer, just as stores are displaying their new fall selections, we get to ponder what to wear in the heat of next summer. Maybe that does make sense after all.