So you want to go to Fashion Week in New York, huh? You and everyone else in platform wedges.
Here’s the hard truth: I attend twice a year through my job, but even after 12 seasons, it isn’t always easy for me to score invitations to the most in-demand shows. I’ve covered Marc Jacobs from backstage, but I’ve never been invited to sit and view the big event itself. Each season, more and more people want to attend, and designers simply don’t have the capacity (or, let’s be real, the desire) to accommodate everybody’s request. Shows aren’t open to the public, which means that unless you’re a buyer or editor, your only hope is to score an invitation. And guess how likely that is.
The silver lining to that cloud? A lot of designers and houses stream their shows online, and you’ll probably get a better view of the clothes than those up in the nosebleed section. But if you absolutely cannot live without seeing models clomp down catwalks, you’ve got a few options.
Sorry to burst your bubble, Harriet the Spy, but the days of easy infiltration have gone the way of liquid leggings. At Lincoln Center, you have to show an invitation or pass just to enter the building — and then you’ll need to be on the list to enter the show itself. Dressing in a straight-out-of-Jalouse ensemble might get you through the first hurdle if you act like you know, but for the most part, the disaffected PR people do their job of keeping the riffraff out. This isn’t to say it’s impossible — witness this hilarious account — but it isn’t easy. It’s kind of tacky, too.
Are you excited by the prospect of filling gift bags and directing people to their seats? Me neither, but that’s one way to get your foot in the door. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week needs volunteers each season, and in exchange for some grunt work, you’ll probably see a show or two. On the plus side, you get to see the inner workings of a huge event. The downside is that it’s a week-long commitment of essentially working for free.
One word: plastic
If you have an AmEx, now’s the time to use it. American Express cardholders can get access that’s otherwise impossible unless you’re in the fashion scene: cardholders-only runway shows, designer meet-and-greets, and access to a swanky skybox lounge (above) overlooking Lincoln Center runways. For instance, you can preview new collections during a backstage hobnob with their designers at Made, which hosts a lot of the younger and cooler shows. Rubbing elbows with the people behind Ohne Titel or Costello Tagliapietra costs $100, which also includes a beauty session so you can look as devastating as the latest Eastern European uber-model. Tickets are available here.
Ask and ye shall receive. (Maybe)
Occasionally, just moments before a show starts, people can get in if there’s room and if the designer’s team is all right with it. Don’t bother trying for high-profile shows like Diane von Furstenberg — it’s always a full house with standing room only. But if you find an up-and-coming designer, especially one who’s holding a presentation rather than a runway show, it can’t hurt to ask to be let in. Unlikely, but not impossible.
One last possibility, though it isn’t a good one. I’m mentioning it only because people seem to get this idea in their heads frequently. If someone you know has an in, you technically could try to go in his or her place. This is a dumb idea. Best-case scenario, you find a frisson of pleasure at being an impostor, and you see a show. Worst-case scenario, the designer’s PR team is checking ID or catches on to you otherwise, and you will be beyond embarrassed. Not only can you kiss your access goodbye, your buddy is also likely to be blacklisted. Besides, dishonesty is so passé.
Skybox photo courtesy American Express