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Why an Online Editor Goes to Fashion Week

CR Fashion Book's Ray Siegel tells us how she balances running a site with fashion week coverage, and what she's looking for at shows.
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Ray Siegel. Photo: The Coveteur

Ray Siegel. Photo: The Coveteur

Thousands of people attend fashion week every season, but why do they go? Does their job require them to be there? What are they looking for? We seek to answer these questions in a series of short profiles leading into New York Fashion Week. First up: Ray Siegel, the online director of CR Fashion Book.

Day to day, you're running and writing for CR's website. What's your role during fashion week?

I go to as many shows as possible. We narrow it down to the designers that we think our readers are interested in and the designers our staff is excited about. In Paris it’s pretty much the whole schedule. Part of our platform from the beginning of CR Fashion Book has been to champion young talent so every season we’re also looking for emerging designers that we’re excited about. One we discussed a minute ago is Andrea Jaipei Lee. She just had an installation in Dover Street and she’s going to be participating in the VFiles show in New York. I don’t know if I can say this yet but I think she might be featured in the upcoming issue.

As the online editor, how is your fashion week and what you're looking for different from say, a print editor at CR?

I oversee all of our backstage coverage. I would say there are two components to our coverage. We have really beautiful reportage photography, we have a different photographer in every city and they’re trying to capture during that very small window when you get a first look of as much of the collection as possible with all the models getting ready backstage. And then sometimes that’ll be combined with an interview with the designer, which I would take care of and then we have beauty coverage as well. We also do another series called "Le Jour D'Avant," the day before. And each season, we’ll do a few of those shoots, which take place during the sittings and castings. We’ve been doing Fendi for quite a few seasons now, which is always an exciting one and we’ll watch as Karl [Lagerfeld] and his team are sort of putting the finishing touches on the collection. Then, that post will go live as soon as the show ends. Other than a live-stream or -- I know now the images are loading as the show happens -- but it’s one of the first places where you can see up-close details. Not a lot of people are getting that access.

So is it more about going to the actual shows or getting behind-the-scenes coverage backstage and at studios and ateliers?

I would say I somehow manage to do both. I go to a lot of the shows just because for me, if I’m going to write about something, which I intend to, about all the shows we’re covering, I think it helps to hear the soundtrack and feel the ambiance and all of those important details sort of speak to the collection. Like even the feeling you get when you first walk in. I think we were sitting next to each other in Prada and if we didn’t see that set design and the sand and the carpet, you really don’t get the full effect.

Some people who are going to fashion week have to do things for their job, like keep a site running, while they're attending shows and events. Do you find that's challenging to balance?

It can be a bit difficult but luckily I can do almost everything through my phone. So that makes it easier. And I just get less sleep. I know that’s what it’s going to be like that month. Everything somehow gets done. I don’t know how. It’s actually pretty incredible. But we do focus mainly on the shows during that month. If we’re going to have another big feature that’s coming out, sometimes we’ll just save it so that it doesn’t get lost in the midst of all that coverage. And then a new CR issue comes out every season around this time so I’ll say that’s the only other difficulty is balancing all those sneak peeks for the issue and the issue will come out right in March.

And you guys usually do a really big party, right?

We do. The party this year for this year isn’t quite confirmed. It might be a smaller gathering. Because actually we had two parties last year -- one was at the start of September for the Harper’s Bazaar Icons Portfolio, and the last one was the launch of the issue and Carine’s birthday. So I think this season it might be something more intimate, but we’ll see what happens. It changes constantly.

Is party coverage something you have to do a lot of? Do you feel like it's important to go to parties?

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We cover more parties in Paris. I try to go home after the day or after dinner and I spend that time writing and preparing for the next day. So I don’t get to go to as many parties as I would like to. But if there’s something that I think is that our audience would really not want to miss out on, I’ll try to attend or find someone who can attend in my place. But we don’t do too much party coverage. We kind of keep it to our own parties.

Generally what do you think is the best thing you get out of going to fashion week?

I do still feel very excited about some of the shows in Paris. Like I don’t think that ever wears off. You know Karl always has like something in store at his show, you know you’re going to be surprised. But I also really like that during those weeks you can also attend the re-sees and it’s really important to get to see the collection up close piece by piece. Because sometimes there’s a big difference between the way everything is put together on the runway and when it’s walking down and when you can actually get to see it up close and have someone walk you through the collection and really tell you the whole story or the little details because it makes for a very interesting story for our readers.

Last season, Margiela was one of those really interesting re-sees that I went to. There’s so many extra pieces that don’t necessarily get on the runway but getting to see all of those and hearing how they came up with the story for this collection and what some of the themes were... I think that that’s really beneficial and it helps you get excited about what kind of story you’re going to do for the next season. Like one that came out of that, which we just launched on Monday as our first spring trend story, which was about circles, and it sort of came together when Ben and I, he’s our associate fashion editor, we saw this circular bag at Margiela which is actually [shaped like] a ring and we kept seeing circles everywhere else and we decided we wanted to do that [as a story] and it came out really well.

What's your least favorite part of fashion month?

My least favorite part is without fail I always get sick at some point. So last season it was between New York and London. I think this season I’m going to really try to drink some extra ginger shots or something and try to take better care of myself.

It's because of the no sleep thing.

Yeah it’s the no sleep thing. And then I feel like we’re kind of just eating whatever is lying around. And we’re probably not getting enough nutrients.

Yeah probably.

But I don’t know. What else is my least favorite? It’s also difficult to like stay on top of your e-mail when you’re in transit. I get really car sick.

Me too!

Then the weather will probably also be a challenge. Finding the right footwear. I always feel like it just creeps up too. I have so many things to do before the next month and I really need to figure out an hour when I need to get in a manicure. You know, maybe buy something new to wear also? I haven’t really done that yet.