6:55 am, Monday: It's a truism that fashion people are never on time, yet alone early, so it's a bit of a jolt to be down at the tents at the crack of dawn. Eli and Shelley, my two new girls, get assigned to the Tent, which is the biggest venue at Bryant Park. It's where the most high profile designers show. I'll be going there too, but first, it's off to set up for the CFDA's Health Panel. The members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America have apparently deemed it necessary to rail at length about the dangers of anorexia and bulimia. Given the frightening skinniness of the models in recent seasons, how they do this with a straight face is beyond me. Designers could make their samples a size or two bigger without killing their aesthetic. Then the agencies would have to send bigger models. Like magic.
Anna Wintour, Diane von Furstenburg, and Natalia Vodianova (co-chairs of the panel) are conversing a few feet away from me, and I haven't even had my coffee yet.
Jeffrey, volunteer captain in the Tent, is looking for us. It's time to help the PR staff set up for the Carolina Herrera show. We get to stuff program notes and arrange VIP chair nametags. It's truly glam work. The Carolina people are in a non-stop bitchfest, so we try to stay out of their way. They have awesome press gifts, though- full size eau de parfum bottles in gorgeous gift boxes. Not sold in the US! We're seriously coveting them.
Shelley and I take our places as the buyers, editors, and socials trickle in. I recognize Dr. Valerie Steel, director of the FIT Museum. It's against protocol, and could get me 'fired', but I go over and gush about her corset book, which I adore. Anna Wintour is apparently through denouncing anorexia; here she is, flanked by Andre Leon Talley, and Grace Coddington. Nina Garcia is also supposedly here, although I can't see her from my station. I do spot Kim Catrall, drowning in a sea of press.
At long last, the lights go down, and the girls start to walk. Carolina is all about shift dresses this season. Some hang loosely from the models' frames, while others are cinched high at the natural waist. Carolina's embracing some edgy colors, but she sticks to the classic lines that have made her beloved of the ladies who lunch. The bright pinks and metallics give the collection a younger feel, and a much needed infusion of spirit.
As the models are winding it up, Shelley notes one of the perfume boxes lying unattended in the last row. The second the lights come up, she dives for it, and throws it to me. The Carolina people would shit bricks if we, the unpaid workers, took any swag, so I rip the box open and tuck the perfume bottle in my pocket. Except I'm wearing a mini and leggings, and don't have any pockets, so I stash the perfume... in my bra. I'm wearing enough layers that no one will be any wiser. Shelley's got a bottle, too, hidden in her vintage belt pouch. I feel like a smuggler.
We clean up the venue, making mountains of newspaper and magazine debris left behind by the editorial set. The Oscar de la Renta people arrive, and they are far friendlier than the Carolina ladies. Too bad they have no swag.
Shelley, Eli and I race through the press packets, and take our places for the Oscar show. We're running almost an hour behind, and the well connected have started in already; I spot uber-stylist Rachel Zoe and actress Camilla Belle. Barbara Walters. And my heart skips a beat... is that Renee Fleming?
The Oscar de la Renta show is superb. Really is. He's heavy on evening wear, and for good reason- his creations really span the generations. Everything is belted and done up in heavy silks, brocades, gazars. Flounces and trains adorn all the longer looks. The last gown is the showstopper, though: a tea stained tulle ballgown with a jeweled bodice. The whole thing is lighter than air, and in a shape that will work on curvy girls. Too bad it'll probably retail for $12,000.
The celebrities are all gone now, and the place is trashed beyond all recognition. The girls and I are ankle deep in program notes. Wait, I spy something, as I'm down cleaning up the front row. Is that Grace Coddington's show invite? Oh, score.
I wish I had them! My evil class schedule has prevented me from doing any more shows this season. Even at FIT, professors get pissy if you tell them you blew off class to go to fashion week. Now, I could come down with a mysterious illness. Smallpox, anyone?