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November 2, 2010

Fall in the Mind

By Spear's

Was it the gorgeous autumn weather or the excitement of Fashion Week that brought on my moment of wedding-crashing madness, asks Daisy Prince
THE BEST TIME of year in New York is the autumn and it doesn’t creep in hesitantly, it arrives like an archetypal New Yorker, with a loud bang. From the beginning of September onwards, the city’s doors snap open to reveal a landscape full of new bars, restaurants, art galleries and nightclubs. The energy ripples through the streets like an electric current and the power in the air is palatable. Even the weather complies, and immediately the temperatures drops from a languid, enervating heat to a cool, comfortable climate, and stays that way until Halloween.

It begins with Fashion Week, when a bunch of skinny teenagers from the deepest depths of Eastern European countries descend on the city with their angular faces, coltish legs and protruding collarbones. They wobble down the runways, hips pushed out, leaning so far backwards it is only by some miracle of gravity-defying physics that they don’t fall over.

To go to the shows in New York is to be transported into another world which seduces you into believing that your everyday life includes seeing the leaders of the fashion industry, the occasional movie star and political leader. You find that the strangest phrases, which make no sense whatsoever in normal life, trip off your tongue with ease: ‘Yes, I do find that Ralph’s collection this year is very Annie Oakley with a global polish,’ or ‘I think that Tory Burch’s on-trend 1970s presentation is something of a marvel.’

Fashion people swirl around like bees in a honeycomb, chattering and moving from show to show as if from flower to flower. When you emerge into the daylight, blinking at the harshness of the reality of regular people around you, it’s like having been out all night and coming out into dawn.

This year the shows were moved from Bryant Park on 42nd Street up to Lincoln Center. Generally, this was thought to be a good thing. The shows in Bryant Park were stuffy and slightly cramped, while the Lincoln Center provides space and openly acknowledges that fashion is theatre and should be appreciated as such. The trend is to have a ‘presentation’ rather than an actual show.

A presentation is a basically a cocktail party (albeit without the drinks) where the models stand around like mannequins and people walk around and admire the clothes. Presumably it is less expensive than a regular show and it certainly must be a lot less hassle, as it alleviates the Sisyphean task of having to seat everyone.

The military precision of seating a show must be one of the trickiest procedures in modern life. Fashion shows have all the nuances of an 18th-century French court. Watching the drama when a high-powered editor can’t find her seat, or when a junior fashionista is placed in the first row and her boss is behind her, is as entertaining as high opera.
MEN, AT LEAST straight men, are superfluous to this game. They look baffled as how to order their thoughts. You can almost hear them thinking: ‘Beautiful legs on that blonde, uhhh… wait, is that blue waistcoat really something anyone would buy? And that dress looks like it’s on back-to-front. I’m so confused. Hey, I wonder if the blonde is going to the after-party at Mulberry.’

If the fashion shows seem like a hot ticket, that’s small fry compared to the VIP after-party, where movie stars, models and musicians are accompanied by copious consumption of champagne. It’s not uncommon for there to be two or three parties a night, as every new boîte in town tries to tempt hedge-fund managers and hipster trustafarians to spend vast wedges of cash in the hope of meeting the glamazons of the runway. Parties often last until the wee hours and, after a week of hangovers, we breathe a sigh of relief that Fashion Week only happens twice a year.

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Having been to more than my share of fashion parties, I decided at the last minute to fly to England for 24 hours for the wedding of close friends. My husband, who thought I was completely crazy to contemplate flying 6,000 miles for one night, said the only thing more annoying to a bride than pulling out of a wedding two days before is to rejoin the day before.

Actually, what’s more annoying than that is to rejoin the party the day before, stay up really late, get locked out of the tiny pub you are staying in, and at 4am call the local rural fire deparment to let you in, which is what I did. For next year’s Fashion Week, I think I’ll just stick to the parties in one country.

Illustration by Sonia Hensler

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