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.