Sunday, September 13, 2009

So What the Hell Happened at NYFW?

What the hell happened to me? This may take a while so grab a seat.

That last you hear from me was Tuesday and I tell you that I got my Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week creds and that I'm going. I'm going for 6 nights/7 days and then you don't hear from me again except for sporadic Twitter messages that I'm there.

That is very bad blogger behavior from me and against the whole point, right???

Well, I actually came home early. Instead of staying until Tuesday morning I flew back Saturday. Why on earth would I do that, especially when I love going to New York, I have lots of friends who live there and would be in town, there are a million things going on, not the least of which is Fashion Week and all the related events?

There were a number of reasons. A major reason was I had some work issues that needed to be attended to. I felt that I was not being effective in taking care of those and I was not maximizing my time in NY. I was distracted and probably distracting. Almost the whole day on Friday I was in my hotel room and not out and about. It was a little emotionally draining trying to do both and I got to a point where felt it would make more sense mentally and financially to come back home on Saturday.

I also have to explain the type of person I am. I am NOT good at the short-range, spontaneous plan. I am the type of long range planner where I think about things I might possibly need for a trip nine months away that I haven't even booked yet. Deciding on Sunday night that I was going to go on a major week-long trip, especially to something as logistically overwhelming as NYFW, two days later is really not something I thrive on. Frankly, I was a bit of a wreck even before I left because I didn't feel I had everything prepared to allow me to go away.

But the great thing is that I felt I learned a lot, made some connections, met even more new great people and will be in a 100% better position to do this again next season. Which I totally plan on doing.

There are a million posts out there about getting your creds and the process (StyleIT's are very helpful), I thought a newbie/out-of-towner's thoughts might help if you are considering giving it a try.

Registration: There is a fee for registering. I'm not sure if it varies but I paid $65. With all the work these folks go through, I'm not surprised. I applied using the online registration the day that it opened but didn't get my creds approval until just two weeks before the show. And, if you don't get approved, give them a call or email back. There have been human errors made so a polite question may help clear things up.

Shows: Once you get your approvals, you will also soon get a list of the designers showing in the tents. Start contacting them. I sent out an email to almost everyone one on the list. You will get some "sorry, no room" responses and some standing room approvals and possibly even some seat assignments. This could all change at the actual show. If there is one you want to go to and you don't have an assignment, try for standing room. It can't hurt. You are not going to get press ready images but that's okay. You are there for the experience. That said, be prepared to stand a lot but also don't think you have to see everything. Prioritize and don't exhaust yourself.

Events: There are a million other events going on around the city. Keep your eyes open. Ask around. When you connect with people see what they know about or are going to. Not everyone is showing in the main tents.

Planning your dates: NYFW goes for a full week. This year it was Thursday to Thursday. And if you go the whole week you are going to be near dead by Friday and through the weekend so be realistic with what you want to do and see and how much time you can take off, especially if you are from out of town like me, and how much you can afford to spend on travel, taxis, subway, food, etc. I wanted to get there on the day before so I could pick up my creds and get settled before the shows started on Thursday (oh, yeah and all the deals and events at Fashion's Night Out) but I also wanted to stay for the IFB Soiree on Monday night. That is probably my biggest regret for having to leave early. *sad face*

Planning your location: Because I booked so last minute and was trying to be very frugal, I ended up staying in the upper west side. The positives were the rate (sort of deal for NYC at this time of year) and that I was 2 blocks from the subway which had an express right to Time's Square. The negative, I was 50 blocks from the tents. I tried to limit myself to cabs at night when I was coming back late but it was pretty removed. For me it's Midtown all the way. I will book my hotel earlier next time and be prepared for the cost... unless I sleep on Wendy Brandes' floor with Henry and Gigi (it's going to happen someday Mr.B, so be prepared!).

Creds: I tried to get in around mid-day on Wednesday to get my creds and press bag voucher (there are limited numbers of these). By the time I got out of the airport, checked into my hotel and down there it was almost 4pm. In the end, this was better because I heard there were long lines early on with several hours wait. I waited about 5 min and got right in and out... I also got a press bag voucher so all was well.

The Tents: They are pretty much just that - big tents, filled with sponsoring companies booths and lots of people waiting for the next show to start. There are not a lot of places to sit inside. Be prepared to stand around for while and carry all your stuff. I had my purse, mini computer, camera bag, my flats, and by the end of the first day a very large bag of presents from Haute Look (more on that soon) which can weigh on you. Plus, when I left at the tents I could not get a cab and was about to cry because my back was killing me.

Clothes and Packing: This is where my organizational freak flag starts to fly. I made about 10 lists of what I was going to wear and pack and then I made lists of what bag I was packing them in. I have a problem, what do you want from me? The big issue, as I've said before, is that I don't like to check stuff, especially shoes and jewelry and make-up. So that means I have to carry on almost all shoes, computer, purse, the "good" camera and lenses, jewelry, and make-up. The other issue was the weather. I had tons of little outfits planned and then the weather switched to having lower temps and rain. In the end I did pretty well - I got all my clothes which were a good 14 outfits, toiletries, and a pair of shoes into a single pilot case. I wore my raincoat which I ended up needing and even had room to fit in some of the goodies I brought back.

But that leads me to a big learning about what to wear to these shows. Frankly, whatever you want. There were, of course, lots of girls in black dresses and killer shoes. Many of them looked liked they were falling out of the front of their shoes (ick!) and some people seemed pretty uncomfortable walking and standing around on the concrete and cobblestones by the end of the day. I wore heels but they were Aerosoles and fairly low.

Bring or wear flats if you can and, unless your ego depends on you getting photographed, don't worry about wearing something crazy or uncomfortable or designer. People are not going to throw tomatoes at you no matter what you wear. It's far better to look decent or professional and be able to walk at the end of the day than to wear shoes you can't stand up in. That said, it's still fun to people watch because the range of clothes is so great. You'll see really lovely outfits like these...

And then insanity like this...

or this (I'm sure not the kind of leopard Miss Wendy was talking about, right? RIGHT?)...

See here, a mix of all kinds of outfits.

And the shows, well the shows are fun and crazy. Remember, you may have a camera, but you really don't want to be on the photographer riser.

Coverage: Why do you want to go to Fashion Week and what are you going to cover and say. I've seen a lot of complaining from some people about how if they didn't have a seat assigned it wasn't worth going in. Maybe I'm not jaded enough but I think that's kind of crazy and spoiled to say. Having a seat is great to be sure but I don't think most independent sites are going to get better images than the major pubs. It makes more sense to me to go, enjoy the experience and give a perspective. I know Style and Vogue and Elle are going to talk about the fabrics, the cuts, the influences. I planned on talking about my favorite pieces, the shoes and how I might adapt pieces into my life if I could.
These are some shots from the Ports 1961 show. I was lucky enough to get a seat at the show because this was PACKED!

The show itself was not very long but it was an interesting experience for me. Everyone was very respectful when it started and you could see the designs pretty well, even from my seat up top.

I'll have to put more of the shots on Flickr.

I'm sorry I'm missing more of the shows because I think the rest of the week will be great.
But the shows are only part of the experience. Then there are the parties and the people...
I was able to attend the Fashion 2.0 party put on by Yuli at Style Coalition on Wednesday night. It was filled with lovely people (hello, @skyle!).

Thursday was Fashion Night Out, which gets its own post and Friday night, right before my departure I had a fabulous time with Wendy and a ton of other lovely blogger ladies at the francis studio and then an amazing dinner.

I'm not even going to try and recap this because Wendy and Jennine already did a much better job including amazing photos. Suffice it to say, however, I want a bunch of pieces from the Spring line.

I was so sad to go the next day that when I went to a party at my neighbor's that night I had to wear the flag dress from the francis Spring 2009 collection.

I've still got a ton to write related to this so more to follow....


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great article! I had a similar scheduling/drama/stress/work problem back in February when I was a photographer for another blog, so I feel your pain. I'm just trying to branch out on my own now and this was very helpful! Can't wait to see more! :)


WendyB said...

Henry looks forward to seeing you and shedding profusely on your lovely clothes!