I’ve been a New Yorker for just over four years, and since arriving here, the words ‘Fashion Week’ have taken on a very different meaning than it held when it was something I was reading about from afar. Not that I’ve attended many events ( I did go to the She by Sheree presentation a couple of years ago for sh*ts and giggles, but that hardly counts), but being here makes it all very real, especially when I have friends who are fashion writers and others who are lovers of clothes and celebrity and the like. While sipping champagne in the Betsy Johnson store for Fashion’s Night Out doesn’t sound like a terrible time, I just haven’t been able to summon one solitary damn for Fashion Week. Le sigh.
It shouldn’t matter, right? My ambivalence for the whole fashion hoopla thing, that is. Actually, in the grand scheme of things, it absolutely does not matter. Yet, its a little hard not to feel like you’re missing out on some grand experience when everyone else is going coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs about it and you’d rather have a V-8. I like clothes, too. And I check Ideeli everyday in hopes that they will finally have some banging flat riding boots that I can afford at some point. But going to shows just because celebs will be there to fawn over clothes that won’t factor much into my wardrobe decisions until they’ve been reduced to an H&M knockoff sometime next year–at which point I will still only be judging them by a “that’s cute”/”that’s not cute” metric–isn’t my style. Some folks feel that being spitting distance from a tribe called Kardashian means they are in the place to be. I feel a little differently.
The Fashion Week stuff also reminds a sister of how low her dough is. There’s a lot of faking it till you make it that takes place in New York, and a whole lot of folks will be spending money they don’t have to look and feel the part at these events. I’m all about making the $30 dress look like a million bucks (or, um, maybe look like a couple “hunnid,” but you know what I mean), but being in the presence of all the real money (and the damn good pretenders) can be a bit of a wake-up call from the good folks at Broke Phi Broke, reminding you that chapter meeting is on Sunday and you gotta bring the Arbor Mist.
You know how folks who don’t listen to the radio are perceived to be a bit snobby and superior-feeling when it comes to musical taste? We are a bit snobby. But we (well, at least I) would much rather be able to turn on a top-40 station or go to a club and enjoy the music than to feel like we’re special because we know that T-Pain is a hack and that his fans are seriously lacking an ear for real Soul music. That’s kinda how I feel about Fashion Week, except that I don’t get the elitist points here, just the outsider-ness. I wish I could just get past my hangups about money and my lack of enthusiasm for the famous folks and just enjoy it. Or, perhaps, I wish there was some sort of equivalent event that inspired the same sort of excitement in me that this one inspires in the folks around me. Maybe a bridal-baby-old school-Hip-Hop festival, where we could look at wedding gowns, fawn over babies and listen to De La Soul.
Okay, maybe not.
In addition to my personal ambivalence about high fashion, its frustrating to hear the same argument year in, year out: “Where’s the diversity? Why isn’t the runway reflecting the changing color of the US?” And the fact that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (aka the one that matters most) takes place in New York, where the people are so multi-hued makes it all the more shameful. Beyond that, there’s also the fact that most of these models are rail thin. Yes, its modeling and that’s the way its been for a million years. But as someone who falls in between the traditional runway girls and the plus-sized ones who are depicted by women my size in shows for clothes that are too big for me in real life…I don’t feel represented at all. We beg and plead to see more women of different body types and ethnic backgrounds included every year…its not gonna happen!
Remember the scene in The Devil Wears Prada in which the Anna Wintour character breaks down how fashion does, in fact, matter? Because someone in her important fashion world had to create the look, which was then approved by folks of her ilk which somehow trickled down to the creation of the mass market Gap-esque boring sweater that Anne Hathaway wore? I tend to think of that exchange when I lament my ambivalence about fashion. I love pretty clothes and dresses and I dream of the day in which I can have the shoe game I desire. But sitting around reading and watching and obsessing over clothes? Nah. Not for me.