I’m back with more inside info on the spring ’09 fashion shows. So why do I refer to this as notes from the back row? Because, that’s where I usually get seated or as close to the back where there’s no view at all. Forget seeing the model’s feet as they parade down the runway. I couldn’t begin to tell you what type of shoes they wear. Mostly it doesn’t matter all that much except when only the first two rows get goody bags and the rest of us working stiffs look on in envy (and wonder if there’s anyway possible to grab a bag on our way in).
As for actually getting in to the actual venues inside the tent itself, that’s a whole ‘nother story. We all look terribly glam as we saunter our way up the steps and oh so casually pose by the guards in hopes of getting our pictures snapped by the onlookers (and there are many, not including the wire service photogs). The fun stops there! Once inside and it’s a veritable free for all, as even for those of us who actually got seat assignments in advance, the crowds of editors, reporters, store buyers, celebs and society types all try to crowd in at once and you take your life in your hands trying to duck the camera equipment, flying elbows and giant size – but always on trend – handbags and stilettos as everyone makes a mad dash to their assigned seats. However, that does not mean that the big shots actually sit down once inside. Nooo, they stand around gabbing and preening for the cameras, all the while blocking the aisles for the rest of us poor schleppers who really, really want to just sit and read the daily or WWD until the show finally starts. This can run anywhere from a half hour to an hour later than the actual starting time. Ah, the glamour never ends!
Another reason to get there early is to grab the (scarce this season) goody bag on our seat before someone else nabs it – and given half a chance, they will. This happens most often at Anna Sui’s shows as her bags are coveted and usually contain a cute sample of her latest perfume, some makeup and maybe a trinket. This time around, we got a darling charm bracelet and a pair of Spanx control panties. An interesting combination, I thought.
So much for the actual show venues, now I’ll tell you about the goings on inside the BIG TENT itself. The week got off to a good start with a cocktail party hosted by the Italian Trade Commission and the Italian Footwear Association to showcase Italian shoes natch. We the select few who got invites were treated to a roped off area around the Bryant Park fountain where drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served buffet style. To watch the starving hordes grab, one would think that the press never saw food before. Anyhoo, the event was fun and some of us actually looked at the shoes on display.
For those not interested or not invited, there was a stunning Mercedes sedan parked inside (it is, after all called Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week) , plus a jewelry display by designer Judith Ripka, free supplies for the taking from the Office Max booth, and a café (with the most uncomfortable, but terribly stylish chairs) and tables where people could sit out between shows or sip FREE cappuccinos or Bawls high energy sodas all week.
Now you know what goes on inside the tent, besides the usual primping and last minute adjustments and craziness behind the scenes where designers, makeup people, dressers and models congregate, all for a show that lasts on average less than thirty minutes. However, those thirty minutes can make or break a designer!
In addition to the tent venues, shows were held all over town, usually in totally inaccessible places to those of us without limos or unlimited cash to pay for cabs to places like the meat packing district, SoHo, and every obscure place you can imagine.
Undeterred, your intrepid reporter schlepped to a few off the beaten track places including Varick Street (way over on the west side) where I checked out the spring collections from Sears/Kmart. Don’t laugh, this blog is called Crap and Couture after all. By now, I’m sure that I don’t have to explain my definition of “crap” to you. Frankly, I saw some adorable stuff that will hit the stores in February. I plan on buying the Apostrophe line’s chic dark denim crop jacket with ¾ sleeves and a terrific khaki belted dress. Jacqueline Smith’s green/white shirtwaist could hold its own with Diane Von Furstenberg or Tory Burch any day and her crisp white eyelet button front sundress and geometric print tote in shades of red were equally on target.
And speaking of Target. Boy do they know how to throw a party. This was to celebrate Target’s latest crop of in-store exclusive designer offerings from some hot names like Anya Hindmarch (very chic, and normally expensive handbags from a top Brit designer), Scottish RTW designer Jonathan Saunders, Aussie makeup guru Napoleon Perdis and more. The event was held at one of Target’s temporary pop-up stores – there were four in all, but only open to the public for the following four days. We the select “many” were treated to a red carpet, blasting music, fab eats like mini cheeseburgers and quesadillas and drinks served in paper coffee cups straight out of a Greek diner. We were there to shop and shop we did for two straight hours. At recession prices, why wouldn’t we?
Also “doing their thing” store-wise was the Gap in temporary co-branding partnership with hip Paris retailer, Colette. Open only for a month at Gap’s teeny Fifth Avenue store, the stock featured a selection of over priced novelty tees, candles, jewelry and a few other blah offerings. One item I did find relatively affordable and unique was a tan cotton belted trench coat updated with the addition of a quirky design randomly scattered. It had just enough edge to make it interesting.
Closer to midtown in the Bryant Park Hotel, I checked out the luxury handbag line out of Germany, MCM (Mode Creation Munich), making its comeback in the States. While this premium accessory brand was on my radar, the styling has been reinterpreted and updated for a more modern cosmopolitan customer. There’s going to be a store opening cocktail party at their new digs in the Plaza Hotel which I plan on attending. Also closer to civilization was the loft space showcasing Expose, a pr collective, featuring the collections of twelve RTW and accessory designers. While I and a colleague liked many of the lines (which I’m amazed to say I even remember as the champagne was flowing), the ones that stood out for me were the black and white offerings from Aussie-based firm, Shadows & Dust, French Canadian Jerome Rousseau’s beautifully sexy luxury footwear, Priestess NYC edgy, constructed street wear aimed at the totally hip chick and Yansi Fugel’s perfectly edited TravelJersey separates.
I must mention a fabulous show held at the Park Avenue Armory uptown. G Star Raw, a denim brand out of Europe, put on a show to end all shows hosted by Alan Cummings and Heather Graham who came out and spoke about the firm’s commitment to end world poverty by 2015 through its foundation and with the efforts of individuals and the government. After a heartfelt speech, the show began and what a show, models both male and female briskly strode out in pairs to a great soundtrack and froze mid step – very effective. Even the runway rose up and down in the center like steps, which added to the fun. Even from my perch, high above the crowd (and the huge space was packed), I had a perfectly unobstructed view, not to mention a terrific goody fabric zippered shoulder bag filled with a silk scarf, funky tee etc. After the show, we filed down to a party where the champagne was flowing, canapés came out and a five - piece band played their hearts out. What better way to end fashion week? C&C.