It’s one thing to work in fashion, it’s another thing to be invited to the shows, but it’s a whole different ballpark to actually have to work the event. And although at the end of the weeks leading up to it, I did get to enjoy some of the shows from rows usually reserved for “fancy” people, the stress that came with the preparation of it all actually put me in therapy.
OK, who are are we kidding? I needed a therapist in the city anyway, but I did finally go looking for one after working my first and last Fashion Week.
The company for which I was working was representing more than a few designers who were going to be showing their collections at the Bryant Park tents (yes, this was a few years ago.) Because the majority of them were still on the “rise,” they made our large Soho loft office their home base — literally. One of them even hung “inspiring” kitschy photos on the wall in his corner.
Do you know what it’s like to be at the beck and call of a bunch of designers who not only think themselves geniuses but are frazzled beyond belief because it’s their debut? I’ll just let you ponder that, while I continue.
While the energy was intoxicating, it was more grating than anything else. I spent the several days before Fashion Week roaming the city in search of either random and evidently non-existent props, or food of which I had never heard. I was constantly placing massive lunch orders for designers, agents and models, and yelling at the restaurants for fucking up these orders which they managed to do every single time. I’d go out on coffee runs for sometimes up to 15 people, without the help of an intern, and lug them all back in a damp paper bag hoping they wouldn’t all come crashing out the bottom, just so I could be sent out to do it again in a couple hours.
I’m not even going to take the time to point out that I was an office manager and not someone’s assistant, or that if a call went unanswered while I was doing these errands, it was my fault. See the need for therapy?
It was early September and the temperatures were still close to 90. I was constantly sweating no matter where I went because I was always running to get there and apologizing for all my sweating to people who couldn’t give less of a fuck and just stared at me as if I were speaking in tongues. I do not think I was speaking in tongues, but considering my mental state, maybe I was.
As it got closer to the actual launch of the week, I spent the majority of my days running back and forth between Soho and Bryant Park with clothes and accessories. I wheeled a clothing rack full of dresses almost 20 blocks because one of the designers didn’t want to unhang them and risk wrinkling them. I had to explain to this same designer that our steamer could eliminate any possible wrinkles while he all but cried and told me I didn’t understand the “artistic process.”
I witnessed droves of models coming in so they could be picked apart then either decided they were show material or not. I had to manually unclog a toilet with a make-shift plunger after a certain person from IMG Fashion had their way with it after over-indulging in a spread from Balthazar. I probably witnessed at least a dozen breakdowns — mostly by assistants who had run out of Xanax and patience. I was elated and miserable all at once. I was working in fashion!
Once Thursday rolled around (the first official day), the office began to empty. There was nothing more to do there, and now all freaking out and drama would take place in Bryant Park. By Monday, all of the designers we represented had shown their collections and the rest of Fashion Week remained fairly uneventful. Yes, I did get to see it all first hand, I did get to go to a handful of shows and I did walk away with bags of goodies I’d never use. But if someone asked me to do it all again, I’d turn them down without a hesitation.
It’s a beautiful thing, that fashion industry so many of us eye from a distance, but it’s also a world I’d like to keep on the pages of my Vogue. Unless, of course, Marc Jacobs really needs my assistance on something and guarantees me a seat in the front row of his show. Then, and only then, would I even dare to venture back to that world.
I can’t afford the amount of Xanax necessary to keep my nerves in place for such things. And I wouldn’t be able to work in my underwear — and we all know my feelings on that.