What is it like to see fabulous pieces shown right on the models, flitting past you as you sit there all glammed up, (and pretend to be) ready to make a purchase?
What’s the atmosphere like with so many fashionable people and visionary fashion creators in one room? The lighting, the excitement, the whispering and the music?
I was curious and actually managed to fulfill my dream of getting into New York Fashion Week 2019. As always, I want to share the experience as best I can and let you in into my adventures, so here’s my first experience of NYFW 2019. (Including a check list of tips at the end.)
**** This post isn’t sponsored nor commissioned and I was invited to the shows as press. ****
Overwhelm – Stepping into NYFW
My steps echoed through the hall as I slowly ascended the marble stairs and made my way through the giant entrance hall. Lit in warm golden hues with palm trees decorating the sides, it really felt like I was about to step into quite the fancy night.
It was my first visit to Fashion Week New York and I was so giddy with excitement. Of course, I vowed myself to not show it, instead (hoping to) putting on an air or professionalism and familiar boredness. After all Fashion Week just to be this exclusive industry only event.
It wasn’t until 2009 that it became more accessible to the public thanks to social media streaming. But by then my dream of attending one day was buried deep in my conscience.
But now here I was, asking fashion show attendees for photographs and adjusting the settings on my camera for the dimmed light situation inside.
I took a deep breath, counted to three and approached the lady with the clipboard. Even she looked stunning and I became extremely self conscious for a minute.
Earlier I had given in to a fully fledged “I don’t have ANYthing to wear” mode, frustratedly rummaging through the wardrobe that I brough with me, discarding the outfits I had picked. I didn’t even own any expensive clothes, let alone gowns. How was I to fit in?
But if there’s one thing that travel teaches you is that there’s always a way. A way to muster the courage to chat up strangers and make friends.
A way to look comfortable in entirely unfamiliar surroundings. A way to seem to fit in. And learning that that’s not even important at all.
While my thoughts were chasing their tails, spinning around like mad, the lady had checked off my name and with a smile guided me in. “I love your outfit”, she said with sincerity. See, an inner voice said, no need to have been this anxious.
Curiosity – Observing the crowd
The corridor was brightly lit with tropical flowers making way for the guests, a tan carpet leading to the white hall with black chandeliers, where the show would soon start.
I was seated in the press pit, sitting on a slightly elevated platform, positioned right in the middle of the runway curve. An ideal viewpoint for what was to come.
The shuffling of heels, the ruffling of dresses and hushed chatter announced the entrance of the guests as they slowly took their seats. Selfies were taken on the chairs, poses practiced on the runway, which was still covered with a protective plastic sheet.
Lights were dimmed and the photographers weren’t particularly happy about that and made themselves known. A compromise was struck. And I felt right in the middle, observing, taking it all in.
You know that feeling when imposter syndrome creeps up your spine and makes you question everything? I didn’t even have time to give it a second thought, so entranced was I in what was happening.
The outfits ranged quite dramatically from chic street wear to full on cocktail dress with a red lip. It seems anything goes and as soon as you look like you did make a good effort from head to toe (use your accessories!), you were all set.
Now, I didn’t get to go to any of the biggest designer brands, being just a small blogger in the big pond, but I didn’t need to gawk at celebrities to admire style and fashion.
I absolutely admired the blonde lady with a fitted jet black dress and major ruffles on her shoulder, a fierce red lip and perfectly smooth hair pulled up in a messy bun as well as her seatmate with the massive afro, the cool shades and her game-themed outfit. (Pin ball jacket and dice handbag.)
Admiration – Fashion Shows
But it’s not just about see and being seen at Fashion shows. The clothes are the star, of course, but let’s take a moment to think about this. Fashion shows aren’t just a way to show latest designs on real like mannequins from all angles (as opposed to flat magazine photographs or unrealistic fashion dolls).
They are the accumulation of half a year of work, (re)design, culminating in showcasing the designer’s vision and message behind all this. It’s named show for a reason.
Even though the runway displays last for about 15 minutes and can feel rushed (especially if you’re trying to shoot everything – in both photo and video), try and sit for a minute to recap and really take it all in.
Nothing’s coincidental, not the makeup, the hairdos, props, lighting, music or way and speed of the models’ walking. The more shows I saw, the more this became clear. At times, models can seem rigid and really just like moving dolls.
At other times, they stop to pose with pizzazz (picture booty shakes and hands on hips) and twirl with a whole lot of sass. All this informs the collection and who the ideal consumer is. It’s all in the image and fashion let’s you feed yours.
Fashion evokes feelings too. And no, not everything will be to your taste. But admire the creativity and artistry in it all and you really have a whole lot of fun with fashion week.
Waiting – Behind the Scenes
But not everything is entirely on point with fashion shows. From what I experienced and heard, it’s not uncommon for runway presentations to start late. Naturally, in any big productions, there are hiccups, such as designers or models arriving too late, make up taking too long, etc.
According to E! News, make up takes 30 minutes and hair 20 minutes. Now consider that shows book 20-40 models on average and you have a whole lot of bustle going on behind the scenes of fashion week.
Being super early (for once) at my last show, I got to have a little peep myself and sat with the models and makeup/hair artists in the backroom, listening in.
Everyone’s story of how they got into the business and ended up here and now at New York fashion Week was so different and honestly fascinating.
If you want to see a few snippets of interviews I did, check out my video on New York Fashion Week 2019.
Modelling since the age of 3 and booking gigs throughout child and teenage years may sound fun on but is real fodder for mean school kids. Also, it might just be a means to pay rent while working towards different dreams and career plans.
People often associate the fashion world with shallowness but such a narrow view, discrediting so much passion, effort and hard work that goes into all of this.
So I encourage you to look at all this with fresh eyes. (And do check out the behind the scenes videos of fashion channels like Vogue on Youtube. It’s an eye opener.)
Dreaming – Why NYFW?
I’ve always been interested in fashion. So many aspects of it are utterly fascinating to me: from the designs and sources of interpretation over the choice of fabric and technicalities of tailoring to the historical and socio-cultural context in relation to trends and practicalities.
Visiting New York Fashion Week was just one dream I never thought I’d actually turn into reality.
Seeing gorgeous fashion on red carpet events was always broadcasted on TV (even if I had to videotape it because of the time difference with the US), but the big fashion weeks always seemed such a mystery to me.
Mostly, they are exclusive to the industry and what I got to see covered on the media are just very select pieces that were either super provocative (whether that was a political statement or just an odd choice of tailoring) or adorned celebrities.
Shows I attended during 2019 NYFW:
Ex Mermaid, Mark Bouwer, A Small Collection, TLZ L’Femme, Andre Emery, Shokra, Augusto Manzanares, a beauty contest, Carter Young and Patrick Cupid
Learning – What I Wished I’d Known
First and foremost, newbies to the world of Fashion Weeks like me will not get into any big shows. As a result, you won’t be able to attend over the top produced, A listed shows and it’s more low key productions. But those can be fabulous as well.
Be prepared to walk a lot and feels seem like a good idea but… you know what I’m going to say … they are such a pain! One day, I walked 17,000 steps to get around from location to location and find something to eat in Manhattan that won’t make me go broke. (I opted for McDonald’s…)
I was super lucky with the weather, however, and didn’t actually need to have jackets/blazers on me.
This being New York City, however, jackets are ALWAYs a good thing because the climate on the metro is insane. One second you are suffocating and melting, next you are getting muscle cramps from shivering so much.
Regarding your outfits, really make sure you know exactly what you are going to wear in advance. Get inspiration on Pinterest, Instagram and Fashion Magazines for example.
No need to spend big bucks on your outfits. Most people do not care what you wear at all (especially if you’re press). If you really want to wear big brands, rent an outfit for a few days, for example at Rent the Runway.
At one point I got invites for several shows at the same time but not all got back to me after I RSVPed. Always make sure you get confirmation, otherwise you are very likely not on the list. If you pay for your ticket for public events, you’re fine, of course.
To give you a handy overview of what to know for NYFW, here are my main fashion week tips:
- Bring flats for walking around
- Have a small bag with you for essentials: water, snacks, makeup, metro card, credit card
- Get a 7 day metro ticket if you are using the metro a lot
- Plan outfits for each day in advance
- Create a detailed schedule for all your events with locations and mark them on your map app
- Make sure your RSVP/invitation emails actually receive a (positive) response or you might not be on the list
But enough about my motivation, how do you feel about fashion shows?
Read more about what to do in NYC