Fashion Insiders Share Their First (Often Hilarious) Fashion Week Memories With Us

We see so many fashion week veterans at the shows, and assumed that maybe they are all cynical and jaded. But it turns out so many of them have really fond memories of their first fashion show experiences, which often even set the tone for the rest of their careers. We decided to ask everyone from editors to models to bloggers about their first fashion week memories. So many were willing to share their most embarrassing fashion week moments with us earlier this week, and they didn't disappoint this time around either. Find out what Anna Dello Russo, Shalom Harlow, and many others remember about their first shows. (And maybe you'll learn a trick or two from Elle's Joe Zee about how to crash a show. Also--Tim Blanks' is the funniest story ever. ) Reporting by Leah Chernikoff, Cheryl Wischhover, Hayley Phelan, Dhani Mau, and Fawnia Soo Hoo Photos: Getty
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We see so many fashion week veterans at the shows, and assumed that maybe they are all cynical and jaded. But it turns out so many of them have really fond memories of their first fashion show experiences, which often even set the tone for the rest of their careers. We decided to ask everyone from editors to models to bloggers about their first fashion week memories. So many were willing to share their most embarrassing fashion week moments with us earlier this week, and they didn't disappoint this time around either. Find out what Anna Dello Russo, Shalom Harlow, and many others remember about their first shows. (And maybe you'll learn a trick or two from Elle's Joe Zee about how to crash a show. Also--Tim Blanks' is the funniest story ever. ) Reporting by Leah Chernikoff, Cheryl Wischhover, Hayley Phelan, Dhani Mau, and Fawnia Soo Hoo Photos: Getty
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We see so many fashion week veterans at the shows, and assumed that maybe they are all cynical and jaded. But it turns out so many of them have really fond memories of their first fashion show experiences, which often even set the tone for the rest of their careers. We decided to ask everyone from editors to models to bloggers about their first fashion week memories. So many were willing to share their

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Andre Leon Talley, Vogue contributing editor:

My first fashion week memory was actually going to a coterie awards dinner, a gala. Carrie Donovan took me to a party after the coterie awards where I met Elsa Peretti, and Halston and Pat Cleveland and all the fabulous people. And that was in like '74.

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Jenna Lyons, President, J.Crew:

My first fashion memory was I got to dress the Calvin Klein show at the Plaza. I was dressing Cordula [Reyer], who was, you know, an Amazon and lovely and so gorgeous and the most crazy thing happened. I remember Calvin asked Carla Bruni to change into this dress because it wasn't working on another girl and she dropped her clothes and just stood there buck naked and I had never seen a body like that in my life. I was completely blown away and I was like, 'OK, now I understand why they're models.' She looked like a creature. She just dropped her clothes and threw the dress on and walked for him and [Calvin] was like, 'We're changing that look.' And I thought, 'OK, that was amazing.'

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Bryanboy, fashion blogger:

My first fashion show was Marjan Pejoski, spring 2001 or 2002 in London. That was the [collection] with the swan dress. I was like 14 or 15. I knew one of the sales associates from..a shop that sold Marjan Pejoski. They said, 'Just come to the show.' I just remember seeing Hamish Bowles, and Alek Wek was my favorite model at the time. To see them back then and to see them now again...it's so surreal. And in New York [my first show] was Marc Jacobs, fall 2008. Front row!

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Coco Rocha, model:

My first show at the Tents was Four as Four--at the time [it was Four as Four]--and it was all white and I had a white dress on and I thought 'It's real easy, all I have to do is walk,' and no joke--I stopped in the middle of it shaking, I just couldn't move any further. I had to be like 'left, right, left, right.' But I got through it.

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Chris Benz, designer:

When I started out interning at Marc Jacobs, I remember going to my first Marc Jacobs show, which was at the Maritime, before it was actually the Maritime Hotel. And it was outdoors, where the restaurant is now, but the runway was the whole length of the block. I remember being like, 'That's it!' I knew I was right. I knew I was supposed to work in fashion.

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Karolina Kurkova, model:

For me it was almost 12 years ago--I did all the shows in New York! It was very busy. I lost I think, 20 pounds of hair. And my eyes were so red and burning [from taking my] makeup off so many times. When you're starting, and you're the it-girl everyone wants, you've got to go with the flow. It was hard to say no when all the great designers want you.

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Anna Dello Russo, editor-at-large Vogue Japan:

My first fashion show was Dolce & Gabbana. It was in the '90s and I always remember this show with Tatiana and Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista all the super super models in this little tiny showroom which is where it used to be at the time. I was watching and I really felt like a mouse in front of this beauty. I was feeling like 'mew' [makes mouse noise? laughs].

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Erin Fetherston, designer:

I was an intern at Elle magazine and someone at the art department was dear enough to make me a copy of an invite to come to the Calvin Klein show here at Milk studios. I was 19 years old and I basically snuck in. It was my first time going to a fashion show and it was like all the great models, Amber Valletta, Shalom Harlow and I just remember being like 'wow.' And so every time I come to Milk I actually remember that--it's like coming full circle.

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Johnny Weir, professional figure skater:

My very first Fashion Week [2006], I was invited by Heatherette to walk and I'm a figure skater so I didn't think I would be involved in fashion at all and Richie and Traver invited me and I walked with Paris Hilton and Kimora Lee Simmons and all these amazing people. And I'm small and an ice skater and what am I doing here? Just the energy and it was so outrageous backstage - getting hair and makeup and nobody really knew what was going on and they made this beautiful show.

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Steven Kolb, CEO of the CFDA:

I used to work at DIFAA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) and I went to a Bob Mackie show at a hotel. A friend of mine that I worked with knew this model that used to work with Bob a lot, named Jan. She was in the show, and it was all TV characters, like Hollywood. Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, and that was my first fashion show. It was at some ballroom with ballroom chairs with red cushions.

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Waris Ahluwalia, designer:

I remember--Do you remember Alice Roi? I remember going to her...she was having fittings and I remember being at her showroom studio, and they were walking and trying things on. I remember like sitting on the floor, while they were doing the fitting, and getting ready.

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Tim Blanks, fashion critic:

My very first fashion week was haute couture in Paris in 1980-something and I was in the Intercontinental Hotel where Yves Saint Laurent was showing--I'm pretty sure it was the Intercontinental--and my most vivid memory apart from the show itself, I'd never seen Nan Kempner before and she walked past and her ankles were like [holds up thumb and index finger about an inch apart] the most impossibly thin things I'd ever seen so it sounds camp to say that my first fashion week memory was Nan Kempner's ankles because Yves Saint Laurent's show was amazing, but you know what, it's quite graphic so I'll go with that one.

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Stefano Tonchi, editor-in-chief W:

My strongest memory was the first show John Galliano [did] in London during fashion week. All my memories are about London, Paris in the early 90s, end of the 80s. 87, 88 I think. Those years. One image was this model with all these wet clothes and like a clock in her hair and trees and it was fantastic.

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Shalom Harlow, (best) model (ever):

Before I was a model, I didn't even know there was a Fashion Week! So, my first fashion show [I walked] was a couture show, for Versace. It was slightly intimidating. The blue light was blinding--It was at the Ritz, over the pool. I think like Prince was in the audience. It kind of didn't get more high stakes than that.

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Amanda Brooks, BarneyNY's fashion director:

Oh god, OK, my first fashion show when I was 19, I was an intern for Patrick Demarchelier, and---this is really obnoxious--he got me tickets to the Chanel couture show as a photography student. And he thought it would be a nice thing to get me tickets so I could photograph it. So I was in the pit photographing the show with my little Pentax k1000 and I was that was the first fashion show I ever went to. And I was so nervous!

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Emmy Rossum, actress:

Just generally not being prepared and being overwhelmed and seeing all the flashbulbs and falling in love with clothes... it just seems busier every single year and everyone gets skinnier and they have more clothes on and bigger bags.

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Eric Wilson, New York Times fashion reporter:

My first fashion show I crashed. I was an intern at Interview magazine in 1993 or 94, I can't remember if it was fall or spring and Isaac Mizrahi was having a show in our building in a vacant space on the second floor at Brant and we were just taking the elevator to go home and the doors opened up and we were kind of shoved into a little crowd because the check in was downstairs, so we were just rushed into it. It was one of the most exciting things I've ever seen.

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Joe Zee, creative director of ELLE:

I was a student here. I had just moved here from Toronto in 1990 and went to FIT and I had to go to fashion shows, it was the only thing I wanted to do. So I found a business card of somebody, I don't know who it was, and I crashed the Marc Jacobs grunge collection at Perry Ellis. I stood in the back by the door reception area and watched the show, not knowing 20 years later that it was going to be one of the legendary shows. But at the time it was just phenomenal because for me to see Claudia Schiffer and all these girls on the runway and then to see Marc Jacobs, it was worth pretending to be someone else.

Do you know whose business card you took?

I don't remember. I think I literally just found a business card and was like, 'Well I'm just going to be that person, and say I work for this buyer.'

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Susie Bubble, fashion blogger:

Well it was in London and I hadn't been blogging for too long, and to be honest, I was just really nervous about the whole process. I was just kind of scared about going to shows. I think my first show was something off schedule and I can't even remember the designer's name. This was in 2006. And I just tried to sneak in wherever possible. I didn't have a ticket. And I tried super hard with outfits--and I still do but not in the same way. When you do your first fashion week, you're like 'Ooooh FASHION WEEK!' I think I was wearing something I made myself and a Balenciaga jacket from eBay. I think Phil Oh took a photo. He said my face was a lot chubbier back then.

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Andrew Bevan, Teen Vogue editor:

My first fashion week memory was the Heatherette show in probably 2001 and I somehow ended up stuffing gift bags for the show in order to get a standing room ticket, like, through a friend and it was one of the most exciting...you know, it was amazing. Amanda Lepore walked the runway, I think Anna Nicole Smith was there and it was a very theatrical show, so I just kind of in my mind was like, 'maybe all fashion shows are like this.'