My stilettos, or shall I say Steve Madden menswear inspired oxfords, stepped in the holy grail of fashion…New York Fashion Week. Yes, I am serious, I was there, to pull a reference from Wizard of Oz, I have seen fashion’s emerald city, and it felt surreal. My day began at 8 am, and me being chronically late, I made sure that day I was on time (7:59 to be exact), getting my backstage pass, official volunteer t shirt, and meeting the coordinators I knew this was my chance to prove myself to the unforgiving NYC fashion industry. The rules were clear, no pictures to be taken inside the tents, no talking with the industry professionals regarding your personal goals, and no wondering around the venue area. If these rules were broken, you will be removed and will not be able to come back in the future FOR ANYTHING. Of course the eyes of everyone opened wide, it was understood this was a privilege not a right to be working, and this can potentially define your career.
Having the privilege to assist with the fashion show production for both the Nanette Lepore and Milly show, made me feel as if I was living my own version of Devil Wears Prada. Walking backstage while seeing the hair and make up looks being put together, the collection under tight security unveiled for the first time, was indescribable. During the run through the music began to pulsate in the background as Sam Bisbee and his band began practicing their set for the show. Photographers began doing test shots as the runway lights illuminated the protected runway and models began to emerge from backstage. After two hours of preparing for the show, attendees began to arrive, the coveted front row being filled by buyers of every major department store, editors from Vogue to Elle, celebrities like Angela Simmons and Project Runways Austin Scarlett gracefully posed for pictures. The back row became filled with fashion onlookers who stratically planned their outfits to stand out amongst the crowd hoping to sit in an empty seat.
The plastic protecting the runway was pulled back, to reveal a pristine, white runway, the lights went down to note the start of the show, the white lights illuminated the room and the first look came out. People’s expectations of Nanette Lepore went out the window, safe silhouettes and colors were replaced with bright neons of green, yellow, orange, pink, and blue. Colored wedges and heels were painted green and orange on the bottom; creating a fun, flirty, sophisticated look from head to toe. Each look continued to amaze the crowd, lace was taken to another spectrum with colored lace that stayed true to her design aesthetic of timeless sophistication but was enchanting in bright colors with orange underlays. Stripes went from simply nautical to simply fabulous with stripe combinations of fuchsia, cobalt blue, and periwinkle blue. Buyers and editors nodded in appreciation for the vibrant collection, as assistants and writers took numerous pictures and notes. Nanette Lepore emerged from backstage after the final walk, grabbing the hand of her daughter who dressed in colors similar to her mothers collection. Overall she created a cohesive collection that took women from day to night, the beach, and if accessorized correctly fun flirty cocktail.
The crowd hastily cleared out to make it to the next runway show, while myself and other volunteers cleared out any images of the previous show.. Backstage the media waiting patiently to interview Lepore, while workers began packing up the collection, and security guards guarded the pieces as they were whisked out of the tents. Within the hour a new backstage was set up, with fresh stations, hairstylist, and makeup artist, restocked beverages, and food for the models. The Milly people began to arrive dressed in the 2011 spring collection, engrossed in their I phones and endless list of to-dos that must be completed in the time span of two hours.
After setting up for the show, a new batch of celebrities, media, and on lookers began to arrive. Some of the onlookers who clearly just want to be seen whisper among themselves about their lack of fashion knowledge, they had no idea who Milly is. I wondered to myself, if they were attending a show why would they not do research on the designer before attending? Not bothering myself with unnecessary information, I was distracted by Corinne Bailey Rae the soulful singer behind hits like “Put your records on” and “Closer”. Sitting in the same row was New York socialite Tinsely Mortimer, accompanied by her band of friends. My favorite spotting of them all was seeing Stanley Tucci, who played Nigel in the fashion must see “The Devil Wears Prada”. The lights lowered again, noting the beginning of the Milly show, music began to pulsate creating a feeling of high energy. Milly stayed true to well, Milly. The prints were slightly predictable and in true Milly fashion prints were combined together to create an eclectic chic look, that could work for the traditional style woman looking to step outside of the box. The collection like much of the Milly looks seemed to be inspired by the 60’s and 70’s a time period of classic silhouettes and where combining prints was as normal as wearing pantyhose. I wasn’t really impressed by the look that closed the show, a white polka dot eyelet dress, that made the audience wonder if that was really the close of the show.
Working and viewing the work of designers Nanette Lepore and Michelle Smith was a privilege and experience that will remain memorable. Lepore’s collection set the idea of what spring should be about, fun colors, and flirty silhouettes that make getting dressed an daily joyful experience. Milly remained true to their aesthetic, which even though there is nothing wrong with that, considering their client is the socialite, or trendy conservative client looking to make a statement while remaining appropriate. Fashion remains to be the visual stimulation of the world, bringing people far and wide to bear witness to what is new and next, but most importantly what remains the same, the love of fashion.
In love and fabulosity,