Growing up, I was one of those really annoying, brown-nosing kids who would beg my mother to be a chaperone on school field trips. Then, when it was lunchtime at the aquarium/whale watch/museum, I'd sit at a table with her and the other mothers. I mean, it's not my fault I was so popular.
Twenty years have passed since then, but it seems that in some (ok -- a LOT of) ways, not much has changed. I still talk to my mum almost every day, and if we lived in the same city, we'd probably still share a lunch table. So this season, when I was given the opportunity to bring Mumzy along for a fashion show -- her very first, I should add -- I jumped at the chance.
I decided to take her to Christian Siriano, who's been one of my faves ever since he introduced the word "fierce" to the public lexicon (and his intricate, OTT designs, of course) on "Project Runway" in 2008. His presentations are generally pretty stripped back and old school, and the clothes are full-on, Hollywood glamor -- glitter, sequins, feathers... the works. Pure elegance, pure Mum-bait.
She didn't seem that excited when I first pitched the idea ("Yeah, that could be fun..."), but in the weeks leading up, I could tell she had started psyching herself out.
"Did you get my ticket?" she'd ask me via FaceTime. "What will I wear? How do 'cool people' dress? Seriously though, has my ticket come? I've been telling everyone at work. They're all so excited. Someone was wearing Christian Siriano at the Globes! I don't remember who, though. Who is Zen-day-a?? She's wearing Christian Siriano in People. Ooooh I'm so excited. Wait -- what am I going to wear?"
When ma mère arrived in New York the night before the show, I asked her some questions about what she expected it to be like. Her fantasy version of the runway and its accoutrements went like this: Everyone would be dressed to the nines, cheek-kissing, sipping champagne and nibbling hors d'oeuvres (specifically: chocolate-dipped strawberries. She was very adamant about those).
The runway would be elevated, and models would be sort of high-stepping on it as they walked. After it was all over -- around two hours from beginning to end -- Christian Siriano would walk out onto the runway and verbally thank everyone for attending. So polite!
"Kesha's here," my mum told me casually about a minute after I'd gotten our seating assignments at the cavernous, concrete gallery in Chelsea where Christian Siriano holds his shows.
"Wait, she is?" I asked. She didn't quite strike me as Siriano fan. "Are you sure?"
"It was definitely her. She's wearing sunglasses indoors, and when someone asked who she was, she said, 'I'm Kesha.'" Fair enough. One point: Mum. Also in attendance? Kelly Osbourne ("Much thinner in person!"), Juliette Lewis ("She looks... the same"), Brad Goresky ("You know, the new guy on 'Fashion Police'"), Coco Rocha ("Very beautiful") and Mumzy's new fav, Zendaya ("She's only eight-TEEN??!").
We stood amongst the photogs as they fought over the best camera angles of the celebs, until one particularly eager woman wielding a step-stool and mumbling "'Scuze me, comin' through, thank you..." seamlessly plopped it down right in front of us. (This brief incident would later become a favorite of my mother's during retellings.)
Shortly after, a PR came and rescued us with a "Hiiiiii, Nora??" and some cheek kisses, and showed us to our seats. Mum asked me if I knew her, based on the overtly friendly exchange.
"Mmm... no; well... sort of... that's just kind of what they do," I explained. A few minutes later, the lights were dimmed and the music came on.
Inspired by the African Congo, Christian Siriano's fall 2015 collection was jungle-themed and stunning. My mother was obsessed with the coats -- particularly a shin-grazing, camel number -- while I was enamored with an off-the-shoulder, teal jacquard cocktail frock with an exposed midriff. Also, that belted tiger-print pencil dress. Mee-ow.
"The tailoring is impeccable," Mum whispered a few times. Tim Gunn had taught her right. We took turns taking blurry pictures on our phones as the models backward-lean-pranced by us. Then, "They're not all very attractive, are they?" Oy vey.
When the show ended all of 15 minutes later, Siriano quietly stepped out into the room and waved.
After we'd put on our coats and scooped up our cupcake-filled goody bags (as well as an extra one for my non-fashion-show-going dad), a different PR came to take me backstage for a quick chat with Siriano. "Is it cool if my mother comes?" I asked.
"Oh, of course!" he said, leading us back behind the runway's gorgeous tropical plant display. Who knew Fashion Week was so maw-friendly?
Because of a time crunch, I was rushed to the front of the queue, where Siriano was already talking to people with mics. I had to be quick. "As far as the jungle theme," I started, "it's kind of unusual for fall. What made you choose it?"
"Yes!" Siriano smiled. "Well it was more about the darkness of the Congo -- so I wanted it to feel like all the animals, the creatures... they all inspired it in that way. And a big part of my brand and my business, we have a lot of people who are shopping in other countries and other cities that aren't so cold. So it's like, what do you give them for fall that still feels fall, but isn't necessarily heavy and black? I wanted this to still feel feel light and effortless, but hopefully right for a fall collection."
"And what was your inspiration --" a random reporter cut me off before I was able to ask another question.
And that's when my mumzy's mumzy-instincts kicked in.
"Can I just interrupt for one second?" she interrupted the interrupter. Oh god. This was not in the program.
"Yesss!" cooed Siriano. It was very much a coo.
"I'm her mother," my mum leaned in, holding my shoulder. The OG interrupter held her tongue. Oh. My. God.
"Yep, this is her first-ever fashion show, so..." I laughed, nervously.
Siriano gasped: "Oooooh AH-MAAAAZING!!! Thank you for COMING!"
"The clothes were beautiful," she went on. "I'm gonna buy one of each for her. It was absolutely wonderful." Had my mother just hijacked my backstage interview? Yes. Yes she had.
"Oh please do! I would love it!" said Siriano.
We hung around a little bit longer to ask him a few more Qs (FYI, his fabric comes from Italian and French mills, and he has no idea who's wearing his gowns to the Oscars. Ugh!), make small-talk with a model on her way out (my mother was sincerely concerned about the uneven floors she had to walk on), and take some pics in front of the collection, which was now hanging on rolling racks.
We walked out into the snowy afternoon -- past women wearing no tights and high-heeled sandals -- and just like that, it was over. It was an unforgettable experience -- one that I'm sure my mother will be telling everyone and their mothers about for years to come. And you can bet I'll be right next to her, gently correcting her mispronunciations of celebrities' names. Isn't that what daughters are for?
Click through the slideshow below for Christian Siriano's entire fall 2015 collection.
**Special thanks to Christian Siriano's team for making this possible!