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New York Fashion Week - the inside track

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Running with the fashion pack at NYFW

Running with the fashion pack at NYFW is an exercise in style and celebrity, not to mention a 24/7 social whirl; after all, this is the city that never sleeps. Actually make that a marathon as industry heavyweights - spearheaded by fashion’s high priestess US Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour - work their way through 140 runway shows over eight days, including the weekend. And that’s not counting the endless other VIP launches, A-list events and model-fuelled after parties which take over the city’s hippest venues and rooftops.

Held twice a year to unveil the latest Fall/Winter (February) and Spring/Summer (September) collections, NYFW is exclusive to media, buyers, bloggers, industry bigwigs and influencers- these days street style stars including our very own Nicole Warne, Candice Lake and Margaret Zhang now take up their seat in the front row next to major editors including Grace Coddington, Harper’s Bazaar’s Glenda Bailey, InStyle’s Ariel Foxman and former New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn. A rite that is currently under threat as the debate rages whether or not the event should be opened up to consumers (yes, actual real life people that don’t orbit planet fashion).  The reasoning, according to some designers, is that the explosion of social media means hot off the runway collections instantly clog up Instagram feeds, so by the time the clothes actually hit stores months later customers are fashion fatigued. 

But as they say the show/s must go on and NYFW will have a brand new home at the Hudson Yards precinct (currently under development at Midtown West) come 2017.  But don’t go thinking this means fashion’s elite simply have to shuffle (or rather click clack in their sky high Louboutins, Saint Laurent or Givenchy heels) from tent to tent. Designers, both big named and up-and-comers, love to buck the trend for an onsite production showcasing all over the grid with a predilection for trendy warehouse style spaces such as Milk Studios in Meatpacking, TriBeCa’s Spring Studios, Chelsea Piers, Wall Street, atop the World Trade Center (home of Vogue) and even to the outer borough of Brooklyn (style Siberia in the eyes of the snootiest editors).

All this translates to a lot of schlepping from one end of Manhattan to the other between shows, which run on the hour (but are always a fashionably 20 minutes minimum late).  Hardly ideal for those not used to navigating New York’s subway or cobblestoned streets (a nightmare in heels especially in the brutal snowstorms that accompany the February fall season).  Three words: Uber, town car, flats.

For confirmation a fashion show is nearby, expect a throng of paparazzi, an army of town cars and an endless sea of black (the unofficial uniform of the big apple’s style set) lined up behind a velvet rope.  

Note: having official NYFW accreditation does not secure you a spot at the show.  You may be able to get into Australian fashion week waving just about anything, but here if you aren’t on the list, you ain’t on the list.

As for the clothes, NYFW has a long held reputation for wearability and commerciality. Translation: chic, unfussy clothes that fit perfectly into any wardrobe (well, this is the birthplace of Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren minimalism). Incidentally, London is all about the avant-garde, Milan about the flash and Paris about the finest in luxury French fashion. That’s not to say New York doesn’t have its shiny stars - the hot tickets of the week (read nigh on impossible to get into) are Victoria Beckham, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Joseph Altuzarra, Michael Kors and Oscar de La Renta (now spearheaded by Peter Copping formerly creative director at Nina Ricci). Then there’s the current crop of cool kids including DKNY, now helmed by Public School label designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne (Donna Karan the woman and the label have been retired), Monse (created by former ODLR alumni) and Brandon Maxwell (Lady Gaga’s stylist turned designer).  

And lest we forget the full throttle celebrity spectacles.  Enter the shrinking violet that is Kanye West with his Yeezy label, held in an intimate little venue called Madison Square Garden last season and starring the supermodel to end all supermodels Naomi Campbell (naturally the Kardashian/Jenner clan were front row and centre). And then there’s that other musical dynamo turned designer, Rihanna whose Fenty x Puma show at Wall Street featured Gigi Hadid, Lexi Boling and Ruth Bell (aka the hottest mod squad of the moment).

Not that being married to a Kardashian is a pre-requisite for pulling off a celebrity FROW to behold. Beyonce, Gwyneth and Gaga are NYFW regulars and spotted last season were Diane Kruger, Jaime King, Jennifer Hudson, Kirsten Dunst, Katie Holmes, Kate Bosworth and the list goes on.  

Like we said, NYFW is nothing if not a collision of style and star power. For all the insider action on the event, designers, show schedule visit www.nyfw.com.  Or make like a bonafide fashionista and sign up for the bible - Vogue Runway - www.vogue.com/fashion-shows

 

By Natasha Silva-Jelly