The Diary of a Mad, Starved, Inebriated Fashionista

By Caren Kong

Love fashion? Love parties? I do; that’s why I was determined to get into the fashion industry. Looking at it from the outside, it seemed like an endless merry-go-round of clothes and open bars. I bided my time going to school, doing internships and other sensible career-friendly things. The whole time, deep inside, lurked a fashionista itching to get out. You know that girl; the one that is always impeccably dressed, works for Donna or Calvin (Karan and Klein), and is personal friends with every door man/clipboard girl at all the hot night spots. I enviously glared at all those seemingly perfect girls strolling nonchalantly down the NYC sidewalk, while the rest of us bustled about going to our boring jobs or classes. “That should be me,” my inner voice screamed every time I saw these girls, and my overwhelming goal became joining the ranks of the glitterati.

I finally got one foot in the door when I took an assistant position with a furniture designer with a fashion heavy clientele. I was given the opportunity to attend fashion-related events with him to find potential clients. All the endless partying, excuse me, I meant to say networking, led to coveted invites to fashion shows. I attended the aforementioned shows and have been hooked ever since, but I still had not yet fulfilled my goal of becoming a fashion insider. I was starting to grow despondent; I just didn’t seem suited to the industry. I have no artistic talent, so becoming a designer is out. Working in the marketing department seemed interesting until I discovered that if I took the position, I would only be able to either pay rent or eat. Hmm, food versus shelter, it’s a tough choice. Is it too much to ask to want both? I was at my wits end when an acquaintance suggested I contribute an article to her fashion website. It’s perfect; I can become a fashion writer. The press is treated like royalty in the fashion world. Ok, I take that back; celebrities are treated like royalty, but the press is a distant, very distant, second.

I submitted my press registration form, writing samples, resume and letter of recommendation to the organization running NY fashion week. It was just like a job interview, except I’m the one paying ($50 to be precise). After a week of agonizing, I received my approval to cover fashion week. I thought I had it made; I was actually receiving invitation cards in the mail. Let me clarify things, the invitations did not just magically appear in my mailbox one day. It took five straight days of emailing, faxing and calling various public relations companies to get those invitations, and most of the companies that I contacted never even bothered to contact me back.

The tents are now up in Bryant Park. If I had the time, I’m sure I could create a great metaphor about the circus and runway shows. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is now upon us; eight days full of shows and after-parties. Now I get to see if being a fashion insider is all I dreamt it would be.

Day 1: I started the morning by standing in line for almost an hour, waiting to get my press credentials. Not exactly the glamour I was hoping for. I am apparently so unimportant that the people working the John Bartlett show would rather remove the front row seat before letting me sit there. I had to be content with my third row seat next to the gift bag thief. I watched her sit down in my chair and take the gift before moving to the next chair. I knew I should not have tried to negotiate for front row; at least I would still have my gift. Blatant thievery aside, I am quite lucky I was not as ill treated as my friend, who was in the seat of some celebrity’s entourage member. She was practically shoved out of the seat, while being loudly berated the whole time. I suppose they believe that there is nothing like a little public humiliation to start your morning off right. The rest of the day continued pretty much along the same vein. Of the four shows that I had confirmed my attendance to, only one actually bothered to put my name on the list. Some of the shows were especially fun though. The Red Dress – Heart Truth show was very entertaining. It was organized to raise awareness of heart disease among women. Celebrities, such as Kelly Ripa and Rachael Ray, modeled red designer dresses to a packed house that included the First Lady, Laura Bush.

Day 4: I am incredibly sleep deprived; I have been going to bed at two or three in the morning only to wake up again at six thirty. Breakfast is usually a cup of coffee and biscotti provided in the tents. Lunch consists of more biscotti, unless I’ve been lucky enough to score an off-site show invitation around lunch time. Sad to say, it has only happened once so far. It was on the second day, and it was also the last time I had a real meal. I have to turn in stories about the clothes and trends I’ve seen in the shows. To be honest, I’ve seen so many shows they all seem to run together in my mind. I just want a good eight hours and dinner. I do have several bits of irony to report. A press conference was held in the morning regarding the alarming trend of too thin models. Here comes the irony, all of the gift bags given out by Mercedes and IMG (the company that produces fashion week) contain diet pills. Not just one bottle, but two different brands of diet pills. Also, if you’ve ever been to any fashion shows in the tents, you know that alcohol is readily available. We have a bar set up giving out free drinks, and all the sponsor booths are handing out free champagne or specialty cocktails. With the all you can drink buffet, I am curious as to why there is no food in the tents. Apparently eating is taboo, but falling down drunk is okay.

Day 8: Oh, I cannot express to you how grateful I am that it is the last day. I saw Malan Breton’s show this morning. He is perhaps best known as a contestant on the wildly popular show, Project Runway. In an interesting cross reality show moment, he hired Melrose from America’s Next Top Model to walk for him. Another highlight was the Child Magazine presentation showcasing children’s clothing from various designer and wannabe designer labels. My biggest worry was sitting behind Fifty Cent. The last time I saw him was at the Baby Phat show in September, where he started a brawl. This time he was very well behaved and low key. I reiterate; thank goodness the week is over.

Conclusion: Boy was I wrong; I essentially set myself up for a week of nonstop rudeness and exhaustion. You now know why I am mad, starved and inebriated. Here’s my bill for the week, so far. Marc Jacobs shoes: $200, BCBG jacket: $320, Vivienne Tam top: $120, press pass: $50, a good night’s sleep and a cheeseburger: priceless. I leave you with one last piece of advice; buy a belt. With all the tent-ish/flowing tops and dresses for both spring and fall, you’ll need it.

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