J’ adore Couture

 

While tents at Bryant Park were buzzing with prêt-à-porter, a much different scene was going on uptown.   At the Waldorf Astoria there was a close encounter of the couture kind, Couture Fashion Week was held February 12, 13 and 14 in the Grand Ballroom.  Couture Fashion Week started in 2003; however this year was my first visit to the event.

Over a three day period 11 designers showed their one-of-a-kind garments to editors, buyers and the public.  The Waldorf Astoria’s Grand Ballroom is breathtaking.  It was a perfect venue for this event as grand was only one of the myriad adjectives I could use to describe it.   Designers from Romania, Nigeria, Turkey, South Korea, Kuwait and the USA displayed their Fall 2010 creations making the weekend a true international event.  Considering that the Olympics were starting in Vancouver, I felt as if I was attending the Olympics of fashion. 

There were several differences from Bryant Park; the huge space allowed more people to attend a show, although the press bay was considerably smaller.  After the show the models congregated in the lobby area allowing photographers to take pictures and providing attendees and buyers the opportunity to thoroughly inspect the garments.  As a person that loves to look at the details of a garment, I liked the chance to get up close to the garment while the model is wearing it as opposed to viewing it hanging on a rack in a showroom.  Seeing clothes on a model brings the garment to life.

Keeping in the tradition of couture the fashions were far more extravagant than those seen at Bryant Park.  The runway shows had a theatrical aesthetic with lots of drama and pageantry, similar to the ones seen in Paris, and with performers entertaining the audience before the runway shows; Couture Fashion Week was a spectacle in every sense of the word.

It is my firm belief that the fashion industry in this country bases a lot of emphasis on marketability versus artistic vision.  Even the photo editorials we see in our favorite magazines are far less risqué and artistic than those seen in their European counterparts.  Like most artistic endeavors in this country the participants involved must walk a fine line between art and capital, after all, fashion is still a business.  But what I liked most about Couture Fashion Week was the artistic emphasis placed on the garments.  Every woman hates when she goes to a party and sees someone wearing her outfit or her shoes.  The beauty of couture is that it is rare, unique like a Picasso, subject to interpretation, but art nonetheless.  Although I could not picture many department stores buying these garments, I applaud the resurgence of art in fashion.

Memories of Bryant Park

I remember when I first received the email stating that New York Fashion Week would be moving from Bryant Park, I refused to believe it, but now that the tents have been removed for the last time, and I have been reminiscing about my experiences at Bryant Park.  In fact, I spent the entire weekend thinking about it.

The tents rising at Bryant Park in February and September are as equally a central component of the New York landscape as the lights that illuminate Broadway.  Like most New Yorkers, I have become used to seeing them and the cadre of people huddled around the steps of Bryant Park hoping to catch a glimpse of the celebrities du jour and wondering what is going on past the doors as the beautiful people congregate to mix, mingle and pass judgment on the latest designs from the fashion world’s elite designers.  I became accustomed to running up the steps, showing the security my badge and being swept away in a whirlwind of activities all dedicated to one of my true loves, fashion.

For me New York Fashion Week has always been like the return of a great tryst – a never ending love affair.  I would find myself getting antsy at the end of January and August.  I knew my lover was coming to town and I would soon get wrapped up in a vortex of color palates, trends, hem lines, fabric, bright lights, runways and multiple 15 minute displays of pure excitement. Like with any good affair, it took me a week to recover after the thrill was over.

Before Bryant Park, attending Fashion Week was a “Where’s Waldo” experience, running around the city, trying to attend shows felt more like stalking a great love than admiring one. Once the tent shows came to fruition, it provided lovers of fashion one centralized venue to carry on their love affair with the fashion industry and the players that revolve in it.   And although some designers like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and others did not show at the tents (some rendezvous happen off-site), Bryant Park still remained a captivating meeting place for me to have a moment or two with one of my great loves.

I had my issues with Bryant Park, the limited space in the tents and the main area, suffering in four-inch heels as I walked over cobblestones (thank god for the free booze which help to medicate my feet) and being corralled like cattle while waiting to see a show that should’ve started a half hour ago just to name a few.  But every love affair has its share of glitches, despite any issue I had with Bryant Park, my adoration of fashion brought me back season after season.

What has become equally important to me now is not just the runway shows I saw, but the people I met during Fashion Week’s tenure at Bryant Park.  People like Vicky Bugbee, Public Relations Manager for B Productions, a compliment on my earrings turned into us conversing about fashion, B Productions and the Caribbean, or Lana Solange, a young designer from Canada, or Clifford Wray III and Reese Sherman, two stylists that transitioned from colleagues to life long friends.  There have been so many people I have met over the years at Bryant Park, so many memories that stick out as the chapter closes on Bryant Park and Fashion Week.  But the memories that eclipse all others are the ones I acquired behind the scenes.  

Eve Salvail

I was lucky to be a dresser during the first two seasons of Bryant Park.  I had an opportunity to witness all the manic madness that happens before and during a runway show and play a supporting role in it.  My fondest memory as a dresser was dressing Diane von Furstenberg’s show.  The first designer garment I ever owned was from Diane von Furstenberg, so the opportunity to dress her show was extra special for me, a 19-year-old Fashion Marketing student at the time.  The moment was made even more special when I got the opportunity to dress Eve Salvail, best known for her shaved head and dragon tattoo.  She was one of the biggest models at the time; the entire experience was one that I hold very dear.

It is certainly an end of an era as Fashion Week moves to uptown to Lincoln Center and with change comes uncertainty.  But there is one thing I know that is certain, no matter where the location, my love affair with fashion will remain as passionate as ever.  Lincoln Center, here I come.