There's a parade of pin-thin amazons streaming up and down Manhattan's midtown area these days. Those in the know, know this can only mean one thing -- that's right -- it's Fashion Week again!
I've seen the rise and fall of the supermodels, hemlines and even a trend or two. (I don't care what they show on the runway, grown women should NEVER wear white tights -- ever!!) I've seen waify models pass out from starving themselves nearly to death and beefy paparazzi almost killing each other over a coveted spot on the media riser.
But even in all these years of covering the shows and the backstage chaos, I can honestly say that this Fashion Week is different -- I have never seen anything like this. Yes, this time the recessionistas have replaced the fashionistas. The clothes are much more austere than normal. Demure colors replacing bright palates and textured fabrics taking the place of fancy embellishments.
At first glance, you really might not notice the difference -- the lights dim, the music throbs and the parade of emaciated models begins -- carrying the fate of a multi-billion dollar industry in their bony backs. The collections are the same -- some gorgeous, some gaudy and some you wouldn't be caught dead wearing. But look behind the seams of Fashion Week this year and you'll notice just how much things have changed.
Backstage at the Carolina Herrera show, hair and makeup artists worked their magic while the models ignored the spread of food around them as well as the camera crews who captured every moment. The models changed outfits amidst the chaos while the cameramen pretended not to look and the stylists put the final touches on the looks. There was no talk of the tanking economy, but that changed with my first question to the designer. "Tell me about the collection." I asked. "My collection is a strong one." Carolina replied. "I designed these clothes for power women because the way things are in the world right now. Women need to feel strong, to be confident. Clothes can help us look and feel strong." Amen, Carolina. I couldn't agree more ... even if for me that means an old worn pair of jeans instead of a fancy ballgown.
Chic and elegant in fitted black pants and a crisp white blouse, Carolina confirmed a story we reported on momlogic a few weeks back. There I was, a freshly minted 40-year-old clutching my microphone and still clinging to the long-haired look of my youth when I asked the question: "Do you really believe women over 40 should cut their hair?" I swallowed hard and waited for the answer. "Yes, oh yes!!" She emphatically replied. "At a certain age, hair is like an old accessory women need to get rid of." I nodded politely feeling sadly un-chic and outdated. I wondered how fast I could get an appointment at the nearest salon.
It seemed my "to cut it of or not" dilemma paled in comparison to some of the other dramas taking center stage at Fashion Week. Even the usually jaded fashion crowd gasped at the Herve Leger show when one of the models took a tumble on the runway -- proving once and for all that the ridiculously high heels the models were sporting on the catwalk should never be attempted by real women.
As usual, the stars were out in coveted front row, even if the star power was dimmed quite at bit this year. Instead of the usually A-listers like Renee Zellweger, Demi Moore and Jennifer Lopez -- this year's front row was more about reality stars like the Kardashian sisters and those media-loving housewives of New York. Here's a tip for anyone looking for a bit of instant fame -- get yourself a front row seat at a fashion show. If the stars don't show up, desperate photographers will shoot pretty much any warm body they see.
Without a doubt, my favorite story from Fashion Week had nothing to do with the clothes -- but more about a woman made famous for taking them off -- and charging a lot of money for it. That's right, Ashley Dupre, the call girl made famous for the tryst that brought down New York's Governor Elliot Spitzer, made an appearance backstage and in the front row of the Yigal Azroeul show. Yigal posed with the young woman and told her to enjoy the show. But that was before he found out who she was. It seems Yigal's publicist invited New York's most famous hooker to the show without informing the designer of her colorful past. The publicist set up the photo op and got tons of press for the show. One problem -- Yigal didn't exactly like the idea of his press riding on the hooker's back, even if others have paid thousands for the privilege. The publicist was promptly fired after the show.
Ah, Fashion Week -- sometimes the behind-the-scenes stories are more colorful than even the clothes.