Last week, in the middle of New York fashion week, and on a night that felt like the absolutely, most frigid night of this entire winter, I ducked into an indoor pop-up park in SoHo (yes, they exist) to escape the elements and curl up fetus-style on a beanbag chair with my 6″ Italian herbs and cheese tuna sub. What I encountered inside was far less relaxing but about 10,000 times more amazing. It went a lot like this:
PR-type girl: “Are you here for the event?”
Moi: “Um… no?”
PR-type girl: “Want to see a fashion show?”
Did I even have to answer that? Of course I wanted to! The PR girl promptly led me down some AstroTurf-ed stairs to a small elevated runway lined with park benches. I was seated in a chair marked “reserved” with literally no idea of what was about to come down the catwalk. But before I knew it, I got my answer: A 40-something blonde woman with bangs and a bump-it appeared on stage, and in an almost comically thick southern drawl, clarified the situation: She was a pageant mom–but not just any old pageant mom. No, standing before me was the mother of all stage mothers, Mickie Wood, famous for birthing and managing “America’s Sweetheart” and Toddlers & Tiaras breakout star, 6-year-old Eden Wood. And we were about to witness the debut of her very first children’s fashion line inspired by her living-doll daughter, aptly titled “Sparkle Baby!” (after the mom-shout-outs heard frequently at child beauty pageants). Clearly, I was in for a treat.
The lights dimmed, a Radio Disney-ready song with lyrics about being a “daddy’s girl” blared, and the crowd started “wooo!”ing. Lil’ Miss Eden appeared first–clearly the star of the show–wearing bright red lipstick, white high-heeled cowboy boots and a bedazzled concoction that could best be described as Moulin Rogue Can-Can girl-meets 1800s barmaid-meets Tammy Faye.
As for the line? There was a serious tutu trend happening (shocking, I know), and while outrageous fascinators have been banned from the Royal Ascot, they’re clearly Eden Wood-approved. For the breathtaking grande finale, Eden reappeared as if from heaven, wearing an on-trend pastel mullet princess gown made from seven million yards of tulle. She lifted the sides to reveal a shimmering silver lining and the crowd went CRAY.
Mom Mickie returned to the stage clasping her baby girl’s hand, and amidst the frenzied cheers, began to address the humbled crowd:
“I don’t know how closely y’all follow our story,” she began, her voice steady at first, “but for us to be standing on a stage [here come the waterworks]…during fashion week [weeping]…premiering [regaining composure] a line of clothes that I designed for my daughter [...] It’s just a journey that you can’t imagine.”
The calm-once-more Ms. Wood thanked us “from the heart” for coming to the show because she was “worried nobody would be here.” Then she knelt before her silent, tulle swathed muse, little Eden, and reassured her of just how proud Mama Wood was of all her daughter’s hard work: They had made it from rural Arkansas to NYC, debuting what was apparently the kindergartener’s “own line.” “We done it,” she triumphed. “We did it!”
But what, exactly, had they done? I needed to know more, so I caught up with the Woods the next day at the “park” again.