Celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe is giving an interview to my left, so close I could reach out and touch her. Designer Carolina Herrera is a few feet to my right, having just showed her fall 2009 collection. She’s surrounded by well-wishers, industry professionals and photographers vying for her attention. Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it? While all of this is spine-tingling with excitement, I’ve conveniently left out the fatigue, the pushing and shoving, the aching feet, etc., that are also equally a part fashion week—what it’s really like to cover fashion week.
Reality Check 1: Fashion week involves a lot of standing with weights balanced on each shoulder in the form of heavy bags of “necessities” (camera, water bottle, wallet, business cards, miscellaneous swag). And there’s really nowhere to sit.
Reality Check 2: Worse than, but closely related to standing, is waiting. For every show.
• Check In—To start, there’s waiting in line. Actually, line is a misnomer; there is no line. It’s an unruly mob waiting to check in and get a seat assignment.
• Standing—Often, in my case, I didn’t have a seat and was assigned the lowly “standing” status. The “standing” crowd is let into the show tent only once the majority of the seated guests are in place which means, you guessed it, waiting.
• Inside the Tent—Once inside the show tent, there’s the wait for the show to begin. This can take anywhere from ten-to-twenty additional minutes.
• Departure—As soon as the show ends—bam, a sea of people clogs the exits and there’s more standing and waiting to leave.
• Repeat—And then, the cycle starts all over again with the next show.
Reality Check 3: To add insult to injury, there’s the corralling, the pushing and shoving, the security guards yelling at everyone. After a few days I start to feel like a sheep in a herd.
Reality Check 4: The sleep deprivation is overwhelming. Between the shows, which go until 9pm, the flow of parties, not to mention trying to get any work done, there’s no time for sleep. And this leads to…
Reality Check 5: Tragically, looking glamorous becomes a pipe dream. Between the sleep-deprived face, the possible hangover and the overall exhaustion of living in a constant state of anticipation, there’s really no time for appearances. And, unless you have a death wish and want to be seeing a chiropractor for the next year, heels are out of the question.
So why would anyone want to go report on fashion week?
Well, there’s this little magical sliver of time, a short fifteen minutes out of every hour. It is the moment when the lights go down, the music cues and the first model breezes on to the runway. Right then, I am transported into a designer’s world. He or she shares a vision, a story, a complex chain of emotions through hand-created garments. The runway becomes a space where sartorial pieces become interlocutors; and a dress is more than just something pretty to wear.
And it keeps me coming back, season after season. (Kari Skaflen)