Fashion Week Notebook | Time in the “Fashion Zone”

February 10th, 2006

The phrase "fashionably late" must have had its beginnings somewhere during Olympus Fashion Week. Of the more than 10 shows I attended during the week, ranging from small shows like Abaete to larger shows like Kenneth Cole, BCBG and Baby Phat, not one of them started on time.  In fact, most of them started about 45 minutes late, and the shows lasted about 10-12 minutes long.

During fashion week, shows "start" on the hour and take place in one of three places in the Bryant Park tents: the Atelier (for smaller shows), the Promenade (for slightly larger shows) and the Tent (for big behemoth shows, like Lacoste and Zac Posen). Some designers have shows off-site in smaller showrooms in New York, generally in trendy areas like Soho or Chelsea. Shows begin, at earliest, at 9 am, and end, at latest, at 10 pm.

Junior public relations representatives start checking guests in about 25 minutes before the show starts. If you’re lucky, the PR company has already called you and told you your seating assignment via telephone before the show takes place. This generally only happens if you’re Anna Wintour or some A or B-list celebrity, however. Most of the time, you can expect to spend anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour waiting in a herd of people to check in for the show.

Hopefully, you’re important enough to rank a seating assignment. Public relations companies in charge of shows seat guests in order or importance at the show. Generally the hierarchy goes something like this: A-list and B-list celebrities, front row, scattered among various prominent fashion editors from the U.S. and international offices of Harper’s Bazaar, Lucky and Vogue (although Anna and Andre Leon only show up to a couple big shows during the week); buyers from high-end department stores rank just behind them, followed by makeup, hair and other show sponsors. Everyone else (ranging from friends to virtually unknown journalists such as myself) sometimes get to fill in the rest of the seats. More than likely though, the regular folks end up in standing room.

Those with seating assignments can sit down almost as soon as they are checked in, generally about 10 or 15 minutes after the hour. Standing room guests get lumped into a massive line and are let in about 20 to 25 past the hour. If there are any seats left at that time, standing room guests can fill them in (this is more likely during the afternoon shows). Otherwise, they are shoved to the back of the tent, to try to fight other guests for a decent view of the runway. During the show, anywhere from 27 looks to about 35 looks are shown.

The show usually begins around 45 past the hour and will last anywhere from 10 minutes to 20 minutes. (The shortest show I went to was Baby Phat, coming in at 10 minutes flat, while the longest was Heatherette, which came in around 20 minutes).

In essence, you spend longer standing in line and waiting for the show, than you actually do watching it!

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