After writer Seth Stevenson gave us his take on what it was like to attend the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show as a non-fashion dude, we decided that the logical next step was to send him into the real belly of the beast: Fashion Week at Lincoln Center. Here, he gives us an account of his experience.
For reasons I don’t comprehend, Fashionista has once again asked me — a 40 year-old man prone to wearing outfits assembled solely of items from L.L. Bean and Hanes — to weigh in on the state of the fashion world. And so I find myself at Fashion Week, on a chilly Friday afternoon, loitering in Lincoln Center.
This plaza, just outside the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week pavilion, is apparently a proving ground for fashion wannabes. They strut around in (horrible, day-glo) ensembles, competing for the attention of hordes of photo-snapping tourists and paparazzi. Problem is, it’s not always obvious who’s wearing wacky clothes of their own design, who’s a fashion icon in transit between the tents and a waiting Uber SUV, and who just, well, is hanging around aimlessly while looking kinda stylish. The tourists are confused, I can tell. I’m pretty sure they’d aim their phones at me, were I to simply thrust my hipbone, angle my elbow and pout my lips — even though I am wearing baggy cords.
Inside the pavilion, E! is filming an episode of "Fashion Police." I am disappointed to learn that Kathy Griffin’s sick burns are not, in fact, improvised. She reads them off the teleprompter. I learned this because I stood behind the set, gawping, until a woman in a headset scurried over, pushed me aside with a manicured hand at the small of my back, and told me in displeased tones that I was ruining their broadcast by looking lame in frame.
My ticket is for the Rebecca Minkoff show. I had to Google her. She seems cool. Certainly, there are tons of really cool people in her audience. They are dressed in fingerless leather gloves, feathery snoods and chain mail smocks, which all seem mildly impractical for city life. They would be great if, for some reason, you needed to camouflage yourself while standing in front of the crafts cubbie of a kindergarten classroom.
There are many short, bald fellows here, wearing weighty eyeglasses. There are many men of color wearing bowties. There are a slew of giant handbags encrusted in mysterious alloys, appearing to have arrived straight from a medieval metallurgist’s blacksmithery.
A lot of the women are built like pool noodles. A lot of the men are built like ladders.
I am sitting in the front row, which seems like a rude affront to these other people. I mean, it feels impolite of me to sit here in their presence while looking this schlubby. I am certain no one else here is wearing even a single piece of attire from L.L. Bean. (I am wearing four.)
The people next to me converse in a language of which the grammar is constructed entirely from compliments: “You look fabulous, I love your lipliner.” “I love your shoes, by the way.” “Where is this from? Is it reversible? I need it.” After 40 minutes of this, the show begins.
Rebecca Minkoff has declared that her fall 2015 collection “looks to Patti Smith and her evocative memoir, 'Just Kids,' which paints a portrait of New York in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.” Thus these clothes are all gypsy-peasant-rock-and-roll. Floral maxis paired with shearling-lined bombers. Brown, fuzzy-knit minis paired with thigh-high, fringed leather boots. Muted, patterned ponchos paired with wide-brimmed felt hats.
There is a unity to this line. Were you to ask me to describe this look, using my uneducated eye, I might say: “Going on vacation with Cher and Stevie Nicks to 1973 Albuquerque. But in a good way. A great way!”
Ten minutes after it began, the show ended. Applause. A rush of women in clicking high heels. I’m back outside in the blustery plaza, where a whole new set of flaunting poseurs attempts to stir the tourists' fancy.
Wait, is that Olivia Palermo climbing into a waiting Uber? Maybe. Just maybe.