Anna Wintour walked by me today on Sixth Avenue outside the entrance to the Fashion Week tent. I was taking in the scene, preparing myself to not mess up reporting on my first two fashion shows ever, when I heard the click of cameras. Wintour and her entourage breezed by. She slouched into her brown fur stole and sunglasses, curling away from the cameras -- though I find it hard to believe that the Vogue folks totally eschewed the attention they pretended wasn't there, because they chose to walk around a busy street corner instead of hopping between cars and entrances. For the record, she is tiny and thin -- birdlike. I was surprised, because she looks New York normal in photos, but she's smaller than that.
A few minutes later, I passed the Hartford Courant's diva fashion reporter, Greg Morago. I entered the tent as he left it. He didn't notice me, but that's really not all that different from the, uh, four months we worked in the same room.
Funny things about fashion shows: for all that there's a lot of hype, and a lot of people wearing a lot of expensive clothing, there's very little security, and normal boundaries disappear. At the Reem Acra show, I left my laptop and purse leaning against my chair while I wandered around.
Celebrities, fashion magazine editors, journalists, and goodness knows who else mingle and chat from the show's posted starting time to about 45 minutes later, when it actually starts. (Apparently Marc Jacobs started his show some two hours late last year, and that was pushing things too far.) The front-row celebs, for the most part, are there to gain media attention. People in prime seats are wearing couture and have full faces of photo-friendly makeup. I figured out who was famous at Reem Acra by looking at the makeup jobs and watching clusters of photographers surround them and unleash an onslaught of flashbulbs. They were blinding from behind the cameras. If that's what Britney Spears puts up with all of every day, it's no wonder that she's constantly derailing. Between photo clusters, the celebrities talk to the print journalists or turn away to play with their iphones and blackberries.
At the other show I attended, Cynthia Rowley, I bumbled my way backstage before the show and allowed the PR flacks to explain their hair and makeup vision so I could watch the models being prepared. I talked to one model, a 16 year old from New Zealand, who said the most annoying thing about fashion week are the castings, because the girls have to rush around the city and they all get lost in the subway system. I watched Rowley oversee a quick pre-show run-through, which was the source of why Parker Posey probably thinks I'm an idiot, if she bothered to give our exchange any thought the moment it ended.
Because she was there (and, speaking of Britney, Posey said she would chat with me as long as I didn't ask her opinion on things like that. I admitted to being fascinated by the Spears soap opera, and she said of the celebrity gossip cycle "it's like a weird human sport"). I was asking her why she liked Rowley's clothes (which I had never knowingly seen), and she mentioned that they had unique, fairytale qualities.
"Did you see the collection yet?" I asked, confused. "The hairdressers kept talking about fairy tales, but I thought it all looked kind of urban."
That would be because the models were wearing their own clothes during the run-through. They all looked so similar, though, and so trendy, that I thought I was watching a full-fledged dress rehearsal.