by Mariana Aguilera, @demureista
It wasn't so much of my interest to attend the shows at New York Fashion Week, I really enjoy this new technology aspect of watching them from the comfort of my home, but when I recall my mother telling me that I always have to try on, touch and see a dress before judging it, I knew I had to make an effort to get out and be in front of those shows. She was right! It's a whole different story seeing them live. There is so much more to just the dresses, designers create an energy around the collection that can only be felt by attending. By the way for those not familiar with the fashion show industry. Twice a year on February and September designers showcase their collections six months in advance. This is an opportunity for buyers to place orders on what they will want for the next season. Also, for editors to help guide the public into what is coming. These are a few reasons.
The first time I was invited to attend New York Fashion Week, I wore a niqab(yes, I did observed it for about 5 years, why I stopped is a story for another day) and proceeded to go anyway. I had to. How was I going to write about something that I didn't see. Now keep in mind I had no idea what to expect in terms of the environment. The show highlighted some of the best Italian designers. Well, it took longer to figure out what to wear, get there for a show that lasted about 15 minutes. Brace yourself because that is exactly how all shows are, but it is fun! It is what happened within the show that got me thinking of a few things on how to handle fashion shows later. First it was the music, I have not heard so much music in a while, but have learned to block it out. It was too loud, that blocking it out didn't work. Then came the semi-naked models. It felt a bit uncomfortable for the aura parts of the models to be exposed for viewing. When the men came out, I completely looked the other way. Aside that, as a creative, I really enjoyed the designs and left inspired to write. This was in February of 2014.
The next New York Fashion Weeks that followed in 2014 and 2015 were only wearing a headscarf again attending as a modest fashion editor. The shows I have attended and written reviews about varied from local New York Brands to major labels such as Naeem Khan, Tadashi Shoji, Noon by Noor and this past season in September also Reem Acra among some. This season I also had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at shows through AVEDA for some shows--will give you a glimpse into that on a future post. Every fashion show season changes up a bit creating different opportunities and challenges. The drill is quite the same, you figure out in advance all the outfits you will be wearing during the week, mainly because you are in and out of shows the entire day. By the way after the week was over, I literally had to sleep and stay in bed for a pair of days--yes, it is that exhausting!
Once your outfits are in order, the next thing(but not necessarily in this order) is to clean-up all your phone and have as much memory possible for picture taking of the shows and the things and people that happen before and after. Talking about people, what I truly enjoy every fashion week season is meeting new people, some stay along and some don't. People come from all over the world to attend New York Fashion Week. So, it's like this big party where people-meeting is very interesting, well, at least for me. It is also good to team up with a photographer to take pictures of you for your personal use, if you are a blogger. If not, just pass by the mob of photographers and hope that an editor chooses your picture for a feature. After you have those things in order, you call up your fashion week girl crew, I don't have one, but I do know fashion industry people that I look forward to see. Hydration and food is vital during New York Fashion Week! I normally plan out in a map everything, where I will pray, use the restroom, see the shows, restaurants where to eat and coffee places where to make pits stops. After maybe day 4, coffee starts becoming vital.
Aside these fine technicalities, the daily and every show ritual goes as follow: as you make your way in the street to the entrance of the shows, you walk through a mob of fashion photographers--some will ask to take your picture, if they find your outfit fashion worthy. The fashion bystanders come next; some people stand around to make a social statement others for a fashion statement. Next, comes lines, waiting and more lines. There are usually like two lines, people who have a seat assignment and standing. After all people with seat assignments walk in, if there is space, people with standing are welcomed in. While standing in line, you have a chance to see celebrities--last season, I saw Iris Apfel. Very important people get front-row, usually investors, big time editors, buyers, celebrities and many times the families of the designers. Once, I sat behind the husband and kids of designer Lela Rose. Wait, did I mention feet hurting? Well, get ready because unless, you are ultra-vip front-row, wear comfortable shoes. Waiting in line can last up or more like an hour. After checking-in and printing-out the ticket. You will either be assigned a seat number or a standing position. Shows always start relatively on-time and it can last anywhere around 15 minutes. The first couple of shows of the week are fun, but then it starts wearing you down towards the end of the week. I try to capture as much of the collection's essence as possible to write about it later. It all happens so quickly, so I need to clear my mind and focus. I don't take notes and have minimized taking pictures because at least to me it is vital to absorb the collection's energy. Show finishes and we all leave as we came in, like a hurdle of goats. I then move on to the next show, pray or maybe do an outfit change.
That's the life of attending New York Fashion Week during the day, per my own experience. Now for the evening, invitations to bars, parties usually start taking place towards the end of the day, but I pass them up for two reasons. I try to control my environment where there could be alcohol or a clubby/bar scene for obvious reasons and because sleep is vital during that week--prefer sleep. I try to make my networking during the day as much as possible and do attend day events. Sometimes fashion designers throw a party right after their show, something I would have to judge independently. Some general fashion events vary from season to season. There used to be Fashion's Night Out, no longer. Sometimes there are special dinners after the shows for fashion bloggers(that I do attend) other times like last season Maybelline will team up with Milk Studios to create a space to not only showcase they latest products, but also a space to relax and recharge between shows. Which, I have to mention; planning ahead the life of a phone battery is extremely crucial. Last season, I carried a back-up and my cable of course. As far as stares and comments, they happen, but mostly it is about wonderment. In my experience, all has been relatively positive and people have been welcoming. It is an exciting time of the year for me as you can see in the activity on our site. In a way, I feel I am honoring the work of my mother and her passion of creating clothing, but also serving a community which am part of at large; modest fashion. Also, through this medium I have met such amazing creative people, some whom I hope we stay friends for years to come and re-count our crazy fashion week stories. If I get invited next season, I will be here to tell you all about it. In the mean time enjoy the reviews and pieces we pick and hope to see next Spring and Summer.
P.S. Something to keep in mind is that there have been and are numerous of creative Muslim women and men already working in the fashion industry as writers, stylists, models, designers, photographers, pattern-makers, editors, buyers, and so on--some wear complete headscarves, turbans and some just their hair. It is really nice to come across and connect with them while they work their talent.
Written by Mariana Aguilera
Editor + Founder of The Demureist