New York transforms into a zoo, and models become the beloved attraction whenever fashion week occurs. The design-bearing muses strut as high as skyscrapers with their natural stilts while their jawlines are sharp enough to cut your confidence into mere fragments. Despite receiving a paycheck to receive the gift of physical attractiveness and maintain a fit physique, I have always appreciated the humble and friendly nature of models.
I first participated in NYFW as an intern with a brand founded by designer and artist, Greg Polisseni. The rock-and-roll-inspired line has flourished by borrowing prints from Greg’s original artwork. As an artist with a love for fashion, I personally anticipated the unveiling of another collection by Artistix. Although the presentation commenced my fourth occasion attending fashion week, it served as my first experience since moving to New York.
Maintaining contact with the Artistix team has guaranteed me an invitation for the coveted event, an opportunity for which I am beyond grateful. Working under the supervision of marketing masterminds and fashion royalty, specifically Andy Hilfiger, has enlightened me with a backstage perspective. Each task requires crucial attention to detail in order to execute an impactful show. Performing tasks such as assembling and distributing gift bags to VIP guests, maintaining the models’ hair and makeup schedule, cleaning the runway, assembling seating areas, and restocking the bartender’s supplies has given me appreciation for the effortful preparation a production of glamor requires. Double-checking the guest list and ushering attendees have also offered me an exciting sneak peek into which rockstars, actors, and other icons would later grace my presence.
Although I have solidified my position as a returning intern, many of the fellow volunteers had recently become acquainted with Artistix to contribute solely for the evening. This approach to attending NYFW results in a mutually beneficial relationship. When networking as a young individual in the industry, it is significant to not only acknowledge how an opportunity can benefit you by slightly bluffing an organization’s ego, but to also suggest ways a company can benefit by using your service. Whether responding to an open volunteer request or inquiring with a brand, I definitely recommend playing the “I would be happy to offer free labor” card. Not only will this invite you behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week, but your work ethic will also build your reputation and network. My repeated stint with Artistix fortunately does not go unnoticed. The gracious team always finds a moment amidst typical chaos to thank me as well as their other helpers.
Of course, witnessing the premiere of Greg’s latest creations always incentivizes me to return as well. The artistic advocate’s S/S ’19 collection featured inspiration from his painting, Sierra. His swirling complementary hues of yellow and purple translated well from canvas to fabric. It may be hard to implement a juxtaposing palette without suggesting a holiday or sports team. However, Greg executed this successfully while integrating blue and silver material.
Not only were the designs innovative, but the cast defied tradition as well. The director of marketing, Daries, explained how they consciously booked a few influencers to diversify the lineup. He acknowledged how not everyone is genetically gifted with an extraordinary stature and ability to sculpt six-pack abs. The Sierra presentation also offered some of the models their first opportunity to walk in a production. Daries and company’s approach to an inclusive cast derived from a genuine source rather than a calculated or trending effort. Other untraditional models included the fashion director’s kin as well as the creator of the viral Shiggy Challenge.
Whether a casted individual is new to the runway or experienced with the routine, any model with whom I have interacted responds enthusiastically lacking any signs of ego. One particular model I enjoyed meeting had already made an appearance in my Instagram feed. I somehow stumbled across Jeremy Ruehlemann’s profile a couple years prior and gravitated toward his rock-and-roll appeal. His impressive work both on the runway and in editorial spreads also intrigued me. Jeremy returned to the venue after the afterparty concluded, and I took advantage of the now calm atmosphere to introduce myself and request a picture. He graciously obliged and responded with amiability.
Although my fourth contribution to an Artistix production fulfilled me, I took advantage of the proximity of my new residence to further experience the spectacle. My friend from Chile visited New York for fashion week and conducted his exploration by wandering into Spring Studios between events. He fortunately was never asked to leave before witnessing staple shows. However, I personally preferred a less risky strategy.
Social media proved to once again serve as a reliable lead. I found a post promoting the Chelsea & Walker afterparty hosted by Twelv Magazine. The public invitation included an e-mail address to which I RSVP’d. Available contact information for RSVPing, public relations agencies, or brands allows for a convenient way to attend an event or politely request an invitation. Following this formula allowed me to mingle with various people both involved and uninvolved with the hosting publication.
Wearing a statement-making accessory, garment, or print helps attract compliments when attempting to break the ice at industry gatherings. My leopard print pants captured the attention of a fellow guest who introduced me to a handful of young actors. I appreciated the hospitality of Twelv’s inner circle as well. Multiple staff members encouraged me to join them while thanking my attendance and sharing contacts.
In addition to Instagram, I also learned of several public affairs on Eventbrite. My findings included an opening reception and fragrance launch party at SoHo Ink. The Lower Manhattan tattoo parlor showcased a variety of mixed media work celebrating NYFW. I soon learned that only do models and iconic figures invade backstage areas for fashion week, but they also spend time in galleries. I encountered Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, the Kennedys, and others among the featured subject matter. As an artist who integrates varied mediums to subvert pop-culture imagery, I personally appreciated the layered work reacting to fame and the fashion industry.
From downtown tattoo shops to midtown rooftops, I attended a couple parties and presentations also advertised on Eventbrite. Manhattan nightlife can easily intimidate those unfamiliar with protocols. However, I have learned of many accessible destinations that do not require a reservation, cover, or exclusive invitation. Venues such as Skyroom and High Bar allowed a general crowd to party in elite style.
Attending as a patron allowed me to also practice my club-oriented social skills. I find it easy to prolong a conversation once started. However, initiating dialogue may be difficult to navigate. I strategically constructed a mental list of universal conversation starters. Complimenting a fellow partygoer’s attire or accessory offers a casual way to commence colloquy. Seeking advice regarding which drink to order will encourage an easy response while waiting at the bar. Inquiring how an individual is involved with the hosting party may lead to a more business-driven conversation. This technique allows you to then humbly reply with your own credentials as an attempt to build your network.
Whether expanding your social network or professional network, fashion week provides a plethora of opportunities to cross paths with intriguing people. The semiannual event combines business, creativity, and nightlife to offer both a productive and euphoric experience. I have found the exclusivity of NYFW to be more ambiguous and less present than its perception. With proper research, a few contacts, and impressive work ethic, anyone can embark on a successful and memorable fashion week. I anticipate using my newfound strategies in February.