The best way I can describe fashion week to someone who has never experienced it is that it is like pledging a sorority. You are constantly being judged by the way you’re dressed. (My sorority pledge master made me wear a purple bandana and carry a red apple at all times.) And you are constantly exhausted/hungry/overworked. And you are also constantly neglecting everything else that means anything to you. Freshman year of college, that was homework. In real life, it’s your partner, your parents, or your kids.
Which requires the men in our lives to step it up. For Howard Bernstein, husband of Glamour editor in chief Cindi Leive, the goal is to take over the majority of the child-rearing responsibilities: school, doctors appointments, parent-teacher conferences. And a nightly Skype chat with Mom during the two-and-a-half weeks she’s in Europe for the shows. “He also treats the kids to fun ‘look how rocking things get when Mom's away’ weekends,” Leive says. “Last time he took them to Liberty Science Center and then they all spent the night in a hotel in Jersey City facing Manhattan, just for kicks. My kids had so much fun they now no longer want to go on any actual nice vacations, they just want to go ‘where we went with Daddy.’"
"My goal is to survive and not lose the kids,” says David Licht, husband of Donna Karan SVP of global communications Aliza Licht. “Anything beyond that is a bonus.” His wife, unsurprisingly, begs to differ. “David is probably the most responsible person I know, so he's totally full of it,” she says. “But you gotta love his sense of humor!” It helps that her kids seem pretty easy to entertain, even at the DKNY offices. “The five year old loves playing with the extra stickers from the seating chart and the eight year old could basically amuse himself all day printing out cars from luxury websites,” she says.
Brian Solon, husband of Moda Operandi chief marketing officer Ashley Bryan, must also incorporate a bit of grooming into the schedule. “I often attend events with Ashley that potentially involve photographs that precipitate my semi-annual haircut,” he says. “I also stay in touch with her family and friends, letting them know she's ok.”
Mitchell Krupp, husband of Krupp Group owner Cindy Krupp—whose PR firm puts on several shows each season—was in charge of the school runs and the house chores for the past nine days. But he takes it one step further. “I often get her ice to ice her feet when she gets home from her shows,” he says. “I once had to cut her shoes off of her feet. Just kidding. That didn’t really happen.”
For Niklas Arnegren, husband of Bird owner Jen Mankins, it’s all about keeping steady when everything else is chaotic. “I try to support her by staying grounded and being a calm counterpoint to the fashion world madness,” he says. “And getting to bed at a decent hour when she needs to rest.”
As for how much they’re missing us, it’s hard to remember that, much like pledging that sorority, fashion week, too, ends. And life returns to normal. “When I asked my husband how he felt about my traveling for the better part of September, he said, ‘really? Is it that long?’ So I think it's safe to say he's coping just fine,” Leive says. “It's not like I'm going off to tour the world for a year with my rock band or anything.”