About Last Night (My First Ever Fashion Show)

PS fashion show

The show was on Wall Street, an area of New York I haven’t spent any time in.  I got directions and walked from my hotel to the show, and it was a beautiful walk.  It was a stunning night—the perfect temperature (in the high 60s), and the city was at its best.  As I strolled along, I noticed my favorite building (the Crysler) lit up in the distance, and it nearly took my breath away.  It seemed like a good omen (even if I couldn’t get my phone to take a good picture of it).

When I arrived at the location, I felt like I knew everyone there.  But not because I actually knew them.  Because I’m a total fashion nerd and know fashion journalists, photographers, and enthusiasts by name (and sight).  So I felt like I was in the company of old friends—even though I’d arrived alone.

At the PS fashion show

Photographers were outside snapping.  A few even asked for my photograph, which was kind of thrilling (and mildly anxiety-inducing.  “Act natural, Self!  How do all those people pose in the street style snaps you’re constantly looking at?”).  When Bill Cunningham showed up, I knew I was at the right place.

When we sat, it was along open wooden benches in a dark room.  There were some spotlights on the pillars in the room (so we weren’t sitting in complete blackness), but the vibe was dark and moody (and uber-cool).

I watched as the other show-goers took their seats.  There was Linda Fargo in black and white.  Natasha Goldenberg wearing a white tee shirt, a tight high-waisted skirt over her baby bump, and a navy cape.  Lots of people wore Proenza Schouler (no surprise there).   There was someone dressed head-to-toe as if inspired by the Saint Laurent Amish look (and for all I know her whole look was Saint Laurent.  I was just glad not to be sitting behind her wide-brimmed black hat).  Anna Wintour wore a teal short sleeve sweater with a neon yellow bird (or bird-like blob) on it, which goes to show her fashion choices are less predictable than one (read: I) would have expected.

Anna Wintour at Proenza Schouler

The footwear was super-interesting.   There were sneakers, Birkinstocks, high heels (but fewer than you might expect; thank God for the flat footwear trend).  I was wearing lace-up oxfords and felt perfectly appropriate.

As the show started, the lights went down completely and some funky string  music began.  As the models strode past, there were mere seconds to take in their looks—comprised of leather (even a parka was made of white leather—a first in my book!), fringe, and some kind of lizard/snake print.

Proenza show

It was a very cool show.  And it was over pretty quickly.  There wasn’t even a finale in which to see the collection a second time (I suppose that is what Style.com is for anyway).  As I walked out, there was Tim Blanks interviewing someone (I couldn’t tell who), photographers readying to go backstage.  I kept moving, eyes peeled.  And then someone with a microphone yelled out, “Miss Garcia, could we ask you a few questions?”  At which point, I noticed that I was walking right behind Nina Garcia, who was wearing an A-line black skirt, high heels, and a Chanel bag.

I met up with a friend who was there, and we strolled back to my hotel for a debriefing and a late-night carb fest.  It was super-fun to relive the show together (and look at the pictures of the collection that had already been posted online).

Then I slept for a few hours before getting up extremely early to head to the airport.  The night before had been such a dream, though, I didn’t mind at all.  Besides, I have to get home to my kids, who are still just starting their new school year.

But, lest my fashion dream end prematurely, as I walked into the terminal to check in, the first person I saw looked familiar.  I smiled at her and she smiled back—as I realized (a second too late to do much about it) that it was my favorite blogger and fashion fiend, Leandra Medine (of Man Repeller).  Now it was becoming old hat to run into familiar fashion “friends,” so I walked on with a smile, secure in knowing I’d just had the best twenty-four hours of my fashion life.

. . .

Well, there’s one more story I haven’t told you.  It’s mortifying, but I think you should hear it anyway.  Because, even while it was happening (and even though I was the humiliated subject of it), it was hilarious.

I arrived at my hotel a few hours before the fashion show began.  I was jet-lagged and feeling less than stellar (having left San Francisco in the wee hours of the morning and then having eaten nothing during the trip).  I ordered some room service, called my kids, and started to get ready.

I waited to put my dress on until shortly before I left.  I didn’t want to ruin it, after all, with some spilled makeup or something.  Plus, I had brought a few options and wanted to be sure this was the right one before I made any final decisions.

I decided on a super-cool black and white Proenza dress (with some colorful flecks in it) from their latest collection.   The fabric was inspired by insulation and was thick and fairly stiff.

I had tried the dress on a few days before and loved it.  It fit, though the fabric was stiff enough to make getting the zipper up a bit of a challenge.  I was able to do it myself, though, so that was all that was required (as I’d be traveling alone).

When I put the dress on this time, though, mere minutes before I had to leave for the show, I could not pull the zipper up.  I tried not to panic, as precious moments slipped by.  Tried not to trigger a massive anxiety attack as my thumb nail started to hurt (and peel) from the effort.

I had a huge fashion show to go to, and I would let nothing get in my way.  But something was really trying to hamper my efforts, and I had only a few minutes to solve this dilemma.

So I did something that in less pressured circumstances, I ‘d have never.  If I’d only had my husband or a friend with me this wouldn’t have been necessary.  But as I scanned my mind for possible solutions, I remembered reading a newspaper article about all the crazy things the concierges at hotels get asked to help with.  And I had nowhere else to turn.  So I picked up the hotel phone and called down.

I told the kind woman who answered my dilemma and asked if there was a woman on duty who could help me (I knew I didn’t want a strange man helping me into this dress, even if herculean strength would have come in handy.).  She said she’d be up in a minute, and the doorbell rang in seconds.  Completely unselfconsciously (because I had places to be), I turned around and waited for this stranger to help me out of my biggest fashion predicament to date.

She was struggling, too, with the zipper.  Assuring me that it was the dress’s fault, the plastic zipper’s.  Then she suggested I lay down on the bed, because a friend had told her this helps in such situations.  I was so desperate that, without a moment’s hesitation, I did as she suggested.

So, there I was.  Lying on a bed half dressed and desperate while a stranger fought with my zipper to get it to relent.

When, after a few moments of this were still unsuccessful, she suggested calling housekeeping for someone else to help.  She thought that if someone could help her hold the dress closed, she could get the zipper up.  “Sure thing, call reinforcements,” I happily obliged.  I didn’t care.  Just get me into this dress.  I have places to be, remember?  I’d flown cross-country for this moment, and I couldn’t miss it.

As she picked up the phone, somehow I was able to get the zipper up myself.  (See!  I told you I had been able to do this a few days before!).  We both breathed a massive sigh of relief, as I noticed that she was sweating.  Poor woman.  I swear she couldn’t have known what she’d signed up for when she took this job (I bet she just thought she’d be helping people get theater tickets!).

I gave her a big tip (she’d come to my aide in a time of complete sartorial crisis, after all!) and politely begged her not to include this episode in her book of cray-zay things people had asked her to do as a concierge.

And then I strode confidently to my fashion show.  Hoping that maybe, just maybe, this had ever happened before in the history of fashion shows.

After PS

6 comments

  • kimair

    first of all…proenza!! such a treat to fly out there to see that show. even if you aren’t a fan of the collection, it’s just cool to be there because you know they have thought out every detail from the location, the set, the music, the cast. and i am totally like you at a show, looking for my fashion “besties,” as i like to call them, like kate lanphear or tth (while my friends will ask “did you see anyone famous?;” they’re famous to me).
    then your look, alex i love it! the fall collection was so good…i bet you had a hard time choosing. i’d be interested to see what your other options were. the oxfords were perfect for the silhouette and the cobblestone streets. and so funny about the zipper on the dress. but you do what you have to in the name of fashion! xx

    • Kim- It was a dream from start to finish (except the zipper part, which brought me back down to reality!). A fashion show is so much like a wedding or holiday, with months of planning a zillion details that comes down to mere minutes of action. But how rad to be part of it!! And I love Proenza, so that made it even more special.

      I’d love to hear more about your show-going experiences and all the fashion celebs you’ve encountered. One of my favorites at this show was Emmanuelle Alt. I nearly died when I looked up and realized she was feet away from me outside after the show. I love that you’ve seen TTH– that’s huge! She’s so cool. . .

      xx,
      Ali

  • Pamela

    i loved this post! i felt your panic like it was my own. glad it ended with a great show!

    • Thanks Pamela!! It was amazing and memorable (and a wild tale to tell the grandchildren one day.) 😉 Miss you!!!

      xx,
      Ali

  • Oh Ali! What a wonderful show recap! Your postscript had me rooting for you and the dress to make it to the show unscathed.

    • Haha!! Thank you, Vanessa! Thank goodness we made it okay! It was touch and go there for a while. 😉

      I hope you’re doing great!
      xx,
      Ali