How To Attend New York Fashion Week When You Don’t Have An Invitation Or Even Much Of A Clue


lisa-of-privilege-at-nyfw2016

Dress: MaxMara | Shoes: Stuart Weitzman | Earrings: Blue Nile | Bag: Céline | Watch: Apple | Exceedingly rare curled hair: CONAIR

I’ve always wanted to go to Fashion Week. Well, not always. It’s so hard to avoid hyperbole in this kleig-lit era. Let’s say I’ve wanted to attend ever since I started blogging, and NYFW became a thing, and then eventually a hashtag. #NYFW2016, ain’t we modern.

self-portrait-in-airport-mirror

Dress: OAK | Shoes: Birkenstock | Hat: Nordstrom | Bag: Céline

When Sue at Une Femme asked me to make a trip to NYC with her this September, I was tempted. But I was also deep in the throes of sorting out care for my 83-year old mother. I hemmed and hawed. As the time approached, things were settling with Mom; I was motivated. I turn 60 in a couple of weeks,  I felt a deep desire to retrieve the audacity of my youth. If only for a few days.

So at the last minute I asked Sue if it was too late for me to confirm. It wasn’t. I sent a rush of emails to friends and family, made flight reservations, googled the link to Fashion Week’s schedule, and went. (Here’s Sue’s story of our adventures, and more.)

By the time I returned home I’d seen the following:

  • The WHIT presentation, in person
  • Tom Ford’s show, through a window, darkly
  • Arrivals at Zimmerman, on the street
  • Lisa N. Hoang’s show, in person

I’d also attended a Style Coalition suite, complete with champagne, cheese, and hair primping.

#NYFW2016

Tuesday I flew to New York. Requisite airport bathroom selfie above.

Wednesday Sue and I got up, had breakfast, and headed down to Soho in search of what was what. We wandered those retail streets, ducking into both Isabel Marant (rock & roll socialite) and Morgan le Fay (clothing is art). We missed the Rachel Comey show by just a hair. It was held in an undisclosed location that just happened to be two streets over from our rambles. I didn’t mind. We ate lunch, and headed off to see if we might get into the WHIT presentation – the collection designed by Whitney Pozgay, who happens to be Kate Spade’s niece.

We passed a sidewalk stencil on the way. I felt a little like this baby, reading the world for signs and loving my outfit. I wore this tee, from SEA, and a pair of high-waisted jeans.

street-stencil-nyfw2016

The WHIT attendees reminded me a tad of a Whit Stillman movie. They were quite nice, however, and opened the doors to us without a hitch. “Oh,” said the registrar, “STYLE bloggers.”

whit-presentation-attendees-nyfw2106

Kate was there, holding paper and pencil, as must any loving aunt. She goes by Kate Valentine now, did you know? Has a line called Frances Valentine.

kate-spade-at-whit-presentation-nyfw2016

Artists stood at easels, surrounding the seated models, sketching.

sketching-at-the-whit-presentation-nyfw2016

The clothes reminded me of Cacharel in the late 1970s. Ah the striped sundresses of yesteryear.

whit-presentation-nyfw2016

Sue and I wandered out. We ate lunch. We went back to the hotel. We changed clothes. We ate dinner. And then we walked a few blocks over to the site of Tom Ford’s show. The TBA location had been strategically leaked to the papers, at “that now-shuttered iconic restaurant, the Four Seasons.” Gawkers aplenty; we had missed most of the red carpet.

outside-tom-ford-show-nyfw2016

Out of nowhere, a young woman, for no other reason than gifts from the universe, said to Sue and me, “Come this way. I know how we can see the whole thing.” And round the back of the building we went, only to find ourselves on one of those random elevated concrete plazas common to the East Side. We peered into tall bronze windows. Through the bead curtains, I’ll be damned, we saw the A-list, seated at white tables, chatting. Jon Hamm next to Cindy Crawford, Terry Richardson sitting silent with beady eyes, a glimpse of Diane von Furstenburg’s red mane, while Carine Roitfeld, eyeliner smoldering, bent down to whisper in the wrap-dress queen’s ear.

Then the show began. We saw the whole dang thing. Imagine our little group, eventually, oh, seven people, noses nigh-on pressed to the windows, watching the full theater of Tom Ford and his glitterati. A fellow nose-presser showed us his Instagram feed of Alicia Keys arriving. The janitor came out a back door and watched, cellphone camera held high. As someone said, when we dispersed, “A real New York moment.” Brilliant. Redemptive, in its way, of an anxious youth.

bgw0bql_mu

Pretty. Most of Ford’s stuff is far more brutal. Available now, in a new way of doing business, at Bergdorf’s.

Other people’s glamour becomes far less daunting as you age.

On Thursday, first I met Lauren for lunch. Then my best friend came to town. We rode the subway in 93 degree heat and a car without air-conditioning, took a pedicab ride in Central Park, and ate at Katz Deli. Decades of friendship behind that agenda, very little fashion. So dear.

riding-the-subway-in-a-hat

Top: UNIQLO | Khakis: J. Crew | Bag: Bottega Veneta |Watch: Similar | Hat: Nordstrom | Earrings: Similar

On Friday, my son and I spent his day off together. A return to fashion.

son-at-nyfw2016

The boy child poses at his mother ‘s request

First he and I headed over to the Zimmerman show. One by one, perfectly undone young women entered the door. The air bent around them. I asked about entry, tentatively, the registrar shook her head. We left.

new-york-fashion-week-street-style

This woman arrived too late for entry, but very Zimmerman all the same

Next we went looking for Jason Wu, thinking to gawk at more arrivals. Instead we found ourselves outside the show of Lisa N. Hoang. As a young, emergent designer, she had space for We the Great Uninvited. Only ask. In we went. People stood in line.

before-the-lisa-n-hoang-show-nyfw2016

I stood in line. My son took my picture.

waiting-in-the-queue-lisa-n-hoang

Usual straight hair

The show was so beautiful. Couture clothes up front remind you about fabric, about craftsmanship. Models up close make you worry a little about their skin care regimes. And the audiences – refulgent.

Final walk for Lisa N Hoang’s show at NYFW2016 from LPC on Vimeo.

On to the Style Coalition suite. Champagne, young style bloggers, my son, me. Purple lighting.

style-coalition-suite-nyfw2016

I sat in the chair to have my hair curled with this gizmo. As you can see in the photo at top, it worked, at least for a while. I felt giddy that I knew what I was doing, although perhaps I didn’t.

style-coalition-suite

Usual straight hair oingo-boingoed by humidity pre-curling

Finally, thinking to attend Kim France’s meet-and-greet at Claire Vivier’s store, my son and I went back to Soho. To while away the time, he and I shopped for a lightweight black outerwear layer for me. Although we missed Kim France – turned out the event was Thursday, not Friday – I came home from New York Fashion Week with this. Ha! Know thyself.

How To Do Fashion Week As An Interested Outsider

Yes!

  • Set overarching goals
  • Bring a buddy
  • Develop Plan A with logistics, be prepared with Plan B if required
  • Set aside embarrassment
  • Go for everything
  • Take no failure personally
  • Dress as well as you can, in clothes that you love
  • Get a great haircut
  • Wear tinted moisturizer with sunscreen if you plan to walk anywhere
  • Be very, very polite and cheerful to everyone
  • Show no anxiety. Try not to feel any. Forgive yourself if you do, I as forgave myself the evident clutching of that Céline bag.

Lessons For Next Time

  • Try reaching out to a few PR reps before it all starts
  • Stay at a hotel on the West Side. Crosstown traffic is terrible; most shows in 2016 are happening near the Hudson.
  • If you hold out any hope of being photographed as Street Style, take whatever you want to wear up a notch. You are going to have to stand out, everyone’s so “done,” so vivid.
  • By the way, no one but me is wearing hats in New York City
  • By the way, all the women are wearing short black t-shirt dresses, with anything from white sneakers to Birkenstocks to slides to Ferragamo pumps

I fell short in several attempts. I missed Kim France’s event, we could perhaps have persisted at Zimmerman and gotten in, I left the city before one of my primary link partnerships opened their suite. But none of that affected my sense of success and joy in the experience.

headed-to-the-airport-nyfw2016

Hat | Top  | Khakis  | Sneakers  | Suitcase: my mother | Bag: Céline yet again

While We Are At It, Some Possible NYC Fashion Trends, AKA Clothes That Looked Kind Of New And Cool Or Else Current And Still Cool

  • Very large plaids
  • Raw hem denim
  • Degradé leather
  • Ornamentation and decoration of all sorts
  • Skirts super short or mid-length
  • Bondage shoes
  • 1970s and early 80s

Me, come fall I’ll probably still be wearing oversized pants, maxidresses, and UNIQLO tees. With my new black H&M jacket. Over and out, Sturdy Gals, the world is ours to seize. That we do so politely goes without saying.

 

Links may generate commissions. No events I attended required mentions or links for participation; no words or acts were sponsored.

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31 Comments

  • 09/13/16
    10:28 am

    Reply

    Susan Burpee said...

    This sounds like an amazing way to kick up your heels in the weeks leading up to your sixtieth almost birthday. Love that story about watching the show from outside. What a hoot! Almost better than being inside with the hoity toity crowd!
    A girlfriend and I are off to New York next month for five days. We are sooo excited. I’ve been once and she’s never been. Such newbies at our age. Such fun to still relish being a newbie anything at our age.

    09/13/16
    10:49 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan Burpee, Oh gosh, yes, so much fun to relish being a newbie. To revel in the thrill of New York City however it happens. And it was just that, a hoot, to be outside. Inside was super-charged, I can’t deny that, but outside was full of meaning and camaraderie and humor and awe:).

  • 09/13/16
    10:43 am

    Reply

    Mary anne said...

    This post was a true vicarious thrill. Even for a non-fashionista like me (my couturier of choice is LL Bean). Seems like so much fun. I have to tell you again how utterly handsome your boy is. Wow! He could be a model.

    09/13/16
    10:50 am
    Lisa said...

    @Mary anne, Thank you! And I welcome any and all comments regarding my boy’s good looks;).

  • 09/13/16
    11:09 am

    Reply

    Parnassus said...

    Lisa, Your enterprising feats remind me of those stories of small children, peeping in through the flap in the circus tent. The illicit air makes it twice as adventuresome and exciting.
    –Jim

    09/14/16
    10:35 am
    Lisa said...

    @Parnassus, Oh what a great image! Yes, it was exactly a circus tent moment. Elephants, flying ladies, and all.

  • 09/13/16
    11:31 am

    Reply

    Patsy said...

    That’s the way I would love to see a show – peering in from the outside, so I could leave at will.

    Great re-telling, as always and handsome son, as always!

    Funny, we were in NYC last month and I thought everyone was wearing a hat except me. Maybe August vs. September? The city is empty of NYers in August.

    09/14/16
    10:38 am
    Lisa said...

    @Patsy, Yeah, by September the hats were GONE! Except me, obviously. Glad you enjoyed the story.

  • 09/13/16
    12:12 pm

    Reply

    Meg said...

    What a fun trip! So great you decided to go to NYC after all.
    You really made the most of it!

    09/14/16
    10:42 am
    Lisa said...

    @Meg, So fun!

  • 09/13/16
    12:28 pm

    Reply

    dottoressa said...

    What an adventure! Even better than supercharged inside :-)
    And what an inside story!
    Not to mention your super handsome son :-)
    Thousands years ago I attended to (forbidden for public,actors only) rehearsal of Jiri Menzel’s Hamlet on Lovrijenac Fortress in Dubrovnik. Ophelia was Mira Furlan ( Danielle Rousseau in Lost). It was perfect
    Dottoressa

    09/14/16
    10:44 am
    Lisa said...

    @dottoressa, Hamlet on a fortress! Fantastic. And thank you for noticing my handsome son;).

  • 09/13/16
    12:34 pm

    Reply

    Bungalow Hostess said...

    Looks like a fun romp in NYC…the fashion week must have been an energizer.
    Cannot imagine the pressure that designers must be under launching their new Fall lines…what are you planning to buy as a result of the shows?
    Your son is very handsome…

    09/17/16
    10:09 am
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, I’m not planning to buy anything! But, I admit to a heightened interest in large plaids;). Thank you for the compliment to my son!

  • 09/13/16
    12:51 pm

    Reply

    DaniBP said...

    Love this so much, so happy you did this- it’s very inspiring!
    I’m tempted to go one year, would love to see some shows and hang out with one of my daughters or an extroverted friend. Though I could bring my hubs with me, he’s a very enthusiastic tourist and rather like a big kid! ;)
    Thanks for sharing Lisa. Loved your outfits too. XO

    09/17/16
    10:18 am
    Lisa said...

    @DaniBP, Thank you Dani. And you should go. You’d love it. Brands like J. Crew might even give you a ticket, if you ask in advance. Just do bring an extrovert, and remember, you are as much a support to them as they are to you.

  • 09/13/16
    2:15 pm

    Reply

    Linda Pakravan said...

    Congratulations! It all sounds so wonderful and so much fun! Love your ensembles. And hair, curled or not.

    09/17/16
    10:18 am
    Lisa said...

    @Linda Pakravan, Thank you. I may never curl my hair again. But, I’ll pass the tool to my daughter and enjoy her ringlets;).

  • 09/13/16
    2:23 pm

    Reply

    DocP said...

    Sounds like a wonderful trip! Black is SO not my color (usually results in expressions of concern about my health) but it has been a great year for black Eileen Fisher t shirt dresses.

    09/17/16
    10:19 am
    Lisa said...

    @DocP, Ha! Well then, never mind the black dresses;). Although I suppose you could wind a long light scarf in another color around your neck, if so compelled.

  • 09/13/16
    2:26 pm

    Reply

    Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

    What an adventure you had! I love that you went for it at the last minute and experienced what you could. It sounds wonderful! I really enjoyed reading this post!

    09/17/16
    10:20 am
    Lisa said...

    @Andrea@WellnessNotes, So glad you liked it!

  • 09/13/16
    2:50 pm

    Reply

    Kathy said...

    I think last minute, unexpected trips are sometimes the most fun. I’m so glad you went -I know you need the break and the fun.

    I would love the chance to go to NYC as a visitor/tourist again. We have a lot of family and close friends in the city, and lived there as well, so it’s a very different visit now – some fun, and lots of obligations. We did try to go once “under the radar” but were found out!

    09/17/16
    10:31 am
    Lisa said...

    @Kathy, I wanted so much to be irresponsible for several days. Goal met. And I’d hate to give up the adventure to New York to family and obligations. I do understand, on this last trip there were people I’d love to have seen. I just tell myself that next time I’ll plan, and people will understand about Fashion Week flash visits.

  • 09/13/16
    6:03 pm

    Reply

    Cher said...

    Love your NYFW review. The Tom Ford show through the window reminded me of a long ago version… sneaking in or looking through the window at a rock group. same thrill, different era!!!

    09/17/16
    10:36 am
    Lisa said...

    @Cher, Oh gosh! I never did that with rock and roll, so I can’t tell you how fun it is to think that I’m doing it now! Never too late!

  • 09/13/16
    8:34 pm

    Reply

    Sydney Shop Girl said...

    What fabulous insights into Fashion Week, Lisa! Celebrities, down time with friends, fashion, behind the scenes… the trip had it all!

    So glad the planets aligned for you to make the trip in the company of your friends.

    Wearing Zimmerman myself today, in fact. Great to see Australian labels being so well received State side.

    Your wardrobe is my summer inspiration. Just ordered new Birkis in fact.

    SSG xxx

    09/17/16
    10:38 am
    Lisa said...

    @Sydney Shop Girl, Thank you! And it did have it all. I felt as though the universe was giving me presents. I’m envious of your Zimmerman. Gorgeous brand. Enjoy the new Birks. Still living in mine, as you see;).

  • 09/13/16
    9:35 pm

    Reply

    Jennifer said...

    O M G ! I love this. Your insights are more important than most, because they’re so real.
    Trends, schemds! True style is what we do with this nonsense.
    I’m looking forward to how you will interpret all this.

    09/17/16
    10:40 am
    Lisa said...

    @Jennifer, True style is just that, what WE do with what we observe. And with who we are. Interpration(s) to come.

  • 09/14/16
    8:17 am

    Reply

    kim said...

    Lisa, So enjoyed this! I love your perspective. Why the hell not? We need to seize the day and try all these fun experiences. Great tips and insight about the whole circus. I really hope to do this one day as well. Just want to see the whole thing. To me it seems like you had the perfect experience, just enough not to be overawhelming. Love that you saw Whit. What a pretty show and I do remember Cacharel and it does look very much like that. I think you looked chic and your son is adorable. Your inspire me! x Kim

    09/17/16
    10:47 am
    Lisa said...

    @kim, Thank you for all the kind words! You would LOVE it. And it was the perfect length of time, because any more and I would have tried to do it better. This way, whatever it was was good enough. I can imagine you in Cacharel:).

  • 09/14/16
    8:29 am

    Reply

    Theodore Bouloukos said...

    I love your spirit! Next time, if there’s time, do let me know you’re coming to town, or that you’re here, and we’ll head to Bemelmans for a martini! Cheers!

    09/17/16
    10:48 am
    Lisa said...

    @Theodore Bouloukos, Thank you and yes, will do!

  • 09/14/16
    9:02 am

    Reply

    Frances/Materfamilias said...

    What fun! I loved picturing you and Sue together there, peering through that window, and then out for dinner, drinks, as well. Such a perfect combination of activities to stretch out the time there (I’m always fascinated by the way time stretches and warps and accommodates so many changes when we travel). Must have been exhausting, by the time you got home, but what a change of perspective to deliver new energy.

    09/17/16
    10:51 am
    Lisa said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, By the time I got home I was exactly that, both tired and inspired. Also shaken up, if that makes sense, inasmuch as I felt both more vulnerable and stronger. Aiiyeee life is complicated.

  • 09/14/16
    9:06 am

    Reply

    Yvonne said...

    I loved this post – it was so well written and fun. I especially liked learning a new word, refulgent. I look forward to spinning it in a sentence soon and fortunately it’s pronounced as expected so no embarrassing mispronunciations! cheers

    09/17/16
    10:57 am
    Lisa said...

    @Yvonne, Wishing you all the refulgence;). And thank you!

  • 09/14/16
    12:13 pm

    Reply

    Chronica Domus said...

    What fun you’ve had on your fashion gallivant about town. I love that you checked your embarrassment at the door and gave it your best shot in pursuit of hot fashion.

    09/17/16
    10:58 am
    Lisa said...

    @Chronica Domus, Gallivant. A fashion gallivant. Just that. xox.

  • 09/14/16
    1:44 pm

    Reply

    Laura Aziz said...

    ‘Set aside embarrassment’

    Lisa, I love you. And your words. And your NYFW adventure. This advice needs to be applied to much of life!

    So glad you got the trip you so deserved.

  • 09/14/16
    1:45 pm

    Reply

    Laura Aziz said...

    Also, that first photo is *fire emoji*, and the one your son took in line? You are devastatingly beautiful <3

    09/17/16
    10:59 am
    Lisa said...

    @Laura Aziz, You are a doll and a half. My son took the first photo too:).

  • 09/14/16
    3:38 pm

    Reply

    LA CONTESSA said...

    OKAY MAXAMARA dress PALO ALTO………what are MY CHANCES?I shall GO on line!
    Your SON is GORGEOUS!
    NOW, did I understand correctly THE SHOWS areNOT ANNOUNCED but secretly announced?How does THAT work?

    09/17/16
    11:02 am
    Lisa said...

    @LA CONTESSA, All are announced, but some have location “TBA.” And then if you have an invite, you know where it is, or the location gets leaked, or, you just happen upon it as my son did for the Yeezy show on Roosevelt Island.

    I think MaxMara would work well for you, if not this time, another day:).

  • 09/14/16
    5:21 pm

    Reply

    Susan said...

    NYC FW sounds like a fun experience. Fashion is so fast paced. Most of the time I feel I am one or two seasons behind. Thanks for summing up the trends. Sounds like you enjoyed your time in NYC. Nice that you were able to spend some time with your handsome son. Susan

    09/17/16
    11:04 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan, Thank you. I think we’ve all, except those in New York, been at least a season behind. That’s just changing because now the industry is giving up the concept of “season,” due to technology.

  • 09/14/16
    8:16 pm

    Reply

    Susan B said...

    Gah, I was sure I commented earlier but perhaps didn’t Submit with enough intention. Gosh, we had some fun. And I learned a valuable lesson from you, “it never hurts to ask.” I’d do this again in a heartbeat, and have some fun dressing up a bit more. And we’ll have to go back to Milk and Hops…that was one really good sandwich!

    09/17/16
    11:05 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan B, You commented on Saturday! But always glad to have you here! And, yes, great sandwich. I’m going to do a hotel/restaurant post this week. LA Fashion Week next. xox.

  • 09/14/16
    9:32 pm

    Reply

    Allison said...

    Your son has perfect beautiful hair. I suspect the rest of him is just as good. Your hat is great, people who don’t wear hats are doing bad things to their skin. That blue dress in your first photo is not doing you any favors. You have good legs, wear some damn shorts! If not shorts, then capris. I’m glad you’re back posting, you’re going to places I’ll never go, so it’s interesting.

    09/17/16
    11:06 am
    Lisa said...

    @Allison, He’s a beautiful man, it’s true.

    And, here’s the thing. I don’t want to show my legs most of the time, and especially in New York City. I don’t feel comfortable showing my body, unless I have my husband by my side. Your comment has generated the beginnings of a post, stay tuned, and thank you.

  • 09/16/16
    7:37 pm

    Reply

    Kate said...

    Lisa – where did you get the dress you are wearing in your airport selfie? When I click on the link I go to the other blog. It is such a cute dress! Thanks

    09/17/16
    10:46 am
    Lisa said...

    @Kate, It’s from Oak NYC. https://www.oaknyc.com/oak-box-maxi-linen-dress.html. And although it’s called a linen dress, it’s actually cotton. Go figure:). Glad you like it, I do too! So comfortable. Great for travel.

  • 09/17/16
    7:08 am

    Reply

    susie said...

    I will be brutal: donate that blue sack dress

    09/17/16
    11:06 am
    Lisa said...

    @susie, I will reply, in a non-brutal manner, this week.

  • 09/17/16
    9:46 am

    Reply

    linda said...

    So So Proud of you, Lisa! You are fearless and gorgeous. a true glamazon.
    xo
    -Linda, NY

    09/17/16
    11:07 am
    Lisa said...

    @linda, Aw thanks! I admit, I am kind of proud of myself!

  • 09/18/16
    3:19 am

    Reply

    Mardel said...

    Wow! That sounds like such a fabulous trip, full of fun and adventure and new things. To me it all sounds very daring, although daring balanced with a bit of reconnection. How wonderful. I still love you in that blue dress, you look so glamorous, although, not in the expected way. Redefining ourselves and the world around us. Onward.

  • 09/18/16
    9:17 pm

    Reply

    Alexandra said...

    Lisa N. Hoang is a find; thanks for posting that video! Her stuff is terrific.
    Good old NYC humidity! I remember it well. :)
    So glad you got to have this adventure. Cheers!

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