what they don't tell you about new york fashion week
It's not as glamorous as it seems, even for an editor.
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Marc Jacobs.
As Editorial Director of i-D in the US, it seemed vaguely fitting that I make an appearance in i-D’s latest video, talking about how fashion week has changed since I first started attending it, which is great. Less gendered weirdness and more diversity have made the runways a better place. People are always asking me about fashion week, however, and not generally from an industry perspective — mainly they want to know about free drinks and which celebrities I saw. My esteemed colleagues at i-D were obviously not interested in this, to them, minor points, but I still felt like I should share what REALLY goes on at fashion week, like an exposé of an Amazon warehouse, but not at all. Here’s what I’ve learned from going to the shows in New York for almost a decade — you’ll have to wait for them to make a Milan one to hear my musings on another city.
Free alcohol is actually in short supply.
There was a time at which, for a month, I subsisted on free, slightly warm champagne, and canapés. No longer! Now you are much more likely to get a bottle of Dirty Lemon or Fiji Water when you attend a show, alongside a dusty, allegedly all-natural energy bar. While you may be thirsty from running about in faux fur (see my next point), don’t drink the water — it’s always impossible to find a bathroom. Champagne has the double value of getting you buzzed and making you slightly dehydrated, negating the need to scream “I need the toilet” as you exit a show. Bring back the drinks.
Everyone smells slightly.
Imagine several hundred (sometimes thousand) people crammed into a small-ish space, under very hot lights. They are wearing leather and knits, tech fabrics and faux fur, and some have not eaten properly for days (years). Few have washed their hair. In short, they smell, and no amount of fragrance is going to negate that. Obviously, it’s not like everyone is emanating a bad odor — it’s more like a collected sigh of olfactory tiredness.
It’s always either snowing or a heat wave.
Whoever had the genius idea to have the shows in February and September (hint: Parisians, who have acceptable climate extremes) was an idiot. New York in February is icy, and wind lashed in a way that makes walking two blocks absolute misery, while September is usually hot like Satan’s hot tub. Nobody looks good in this weather, and it contributes to the aforementioned odor problem. Move fashion week, please.
All shoes hurt if you wear them long enough.
It’s easy enough to start the day feeling smug about your Converse, looking at the assorted peep toe booties in the front row. Cowboy boots were meant for riding horses, not mincing up and down the streets of New York. Well, guess what, flat shoe wearer — you too shall feel the pinched toes of pain after 14 hours of trotting around, unable to expense cars. The only way to not experience foot pain would be to wear something actually orthopedic, which would just be a step too far.
It’s much better than being sat in an office.
Everyone loves to moan about how stressful it is being away from their desks, but guess what — going to fashion shows is infinitely better than being in your open plan hellscape, listening to someone slurping their desk-noodles. It just is. The problem is that fashion week stands in for the HR department none of us have, and thus is a great place to air all petty grievances against your job, the industry in general, your partner, or your friends. It’s essentially a gigantic bitching session, with everyone attempting to be discreet by holding their invites near their faces. In essence, it’s glorious.