A few weeks ago I was asked to pitch an idea for a fashion week story. ‘Fashion week for the every girl’ rolled off my tongue and into an email faster than most ideas that I have. This surprised me two ways; that I thought of a pitch at all and so quickly, and that I was confident enough to not think it through before hitting ‘send’. Perhaps this was in part due to the fact that most of the time my ideas are braver than I am and also, when I pitch an idea it usually gets tweaked by whomever I’m collaborating with. It’s best I don’t get tied down to an idea or stuck in a one-line story. Much to my surprise within a few minutes I get an email back saying ‘perfect, let’s go with this. You’re headed to NYFW on behalf of Old Navy.’ I blinked twice at the response and thought what have I just gotten myself into.
I’ve been to fashion week a few times — well, let me rephrase that — I’ve been to New York during fashion week a few times. Once for an in-store event and once for a conference I was on a panel for. No shows or parties, just being in the city during the time was enough for me to feel inspired. In fact, I’ve never seen myself as one to have a foot in the door of the world of high fashion. I am happy to consume what designers and artists create, happy to watch and see what others curate and style, and happy to be inspired by whatever I can from the fashion industry from street style to editorials to designers collections. As someone who loves personal style and helping others find their own, I’ve always found the other side of style (fashion) to be intimidating. Intimidation is a cruel but inspiring thing. One way or another I was jumping in because I had a non-refundable ticket to New York and a job to do. No one in their right mind would turn that opportunity down. Thankfully the first night was easy — the Old Navy x Joe Zee launch party. Parties? Oh yes, parties I can do. I didn’t go to college for nothing, did I?
(Mr. Joe Zee, everyone. He was so pleasant and nice! Katie Holmes was there too, but I never got around to telling her about my love for Joey Potter. Next time we hang out, I’m sure I’ll get to talk to her and hold her hand and brush her hair. You know, normal things you do with best friends you’ve just met.)
I should have kept a diary of my thoughts during this day as I’m sure it would have sounded like that of a 14-year old girl on her first day of school being dropped off by her dad at a new school. I had my outfit laid out, the address of the show in my phone, and a whole ball of nerves just ready to be wound up tight. I kept thinking all morning — what am I doing here? I don’t belong here, this isn’t my scene — all the way to the show. It was one long taxi ride. With my self-doubt fully in tact, I shyly walked into the show, grabbed my seat before someone could tell me I was an impostor and waited quietly for the Wes Gordon show to start. A few minutes later editors start showing up, people I’ve seen in magazine pages, documentaries, whom I’ve admired from afar, all start showing up and sitting down right before my eyes. Then before I know it I’m taking notes on style in my phone. I start looking around and there is style everywhere. In the subtle way a girl wears her braid, in a blazer tossed carefully over shoulders, the perfectly imperfect mix and match of an outfit. I kind of become lost in the crowd of fashion and how amazing it is to see such style in real life. And then the lights go down and the show starts. It’s a constant stream of beautiful pieces for a much-too-quick 5 minutes, pieces that I can hardly remember now. I tried to snap photos on my phone but between the motion blurs and my own excitement, I ended up just watching the show. As the lights come back up, people file in line and out the door faster than you could imagine. I sit there for a second and catch myself. This is amazing.
I think I’ve always shied away from the idea of fashion and always leaned towards style. I once heard a quote that was somewhere along the lines of style is what we do with fashion. Even when people ask what I do I specifically say ‘style blogger’ and not ‘fashion.’ I’ve never felt worthy enough, I suppose, to say I was a fashion blogger, as I don’t wear many labels or designers nor do I fancy myself high-fashion. (More like mid-to-low fashion cause that’s a thing right?) But show after show I felt myself warm up more and more to the idea that is fashion. It’s a creativity, it’s an art in how you get dressed. It’s not designers, or money spent, (although it can be I respect that, too), but it’s in what and how you do something. That’s what I kept being inspired by over and over throughout the weekend — seeing style turned into art.
I mean I think we can all agree on the fact that knowing exactly what to wear during an important week in the fashion industry is slightly anxiety-inducing. Therefore I will be the first to say — I did not know what to wear. I just knew what I liked and what would make me feel comfortable. And I have to say — this is a good formula to go with. Especially when in a new situation feeling comfortable with what you’ve got is good, in fact, I’d say it’s key. By the second day I was feeling good in my own skin again. My anxiety of the unknown had turned into excitement of the new. All of a sudden I wanted to go to all of the shows just to have the runway high again. I found myself looking at the professional photos after the show, reliving each style piece by piece figuring out how I can make that work for me — for the girl who doesn’t walk a runway everyday but an un-level sidewalk to work. (Don’t worry, I made notes to share with you more tomorrow.) Turns out, it is possible to be inspired by something you never even thought you’d ever relate to. Perhaps that’s the best inspiration around.
My last day in New York was met with seeing old/new friends I’ve only known through email or blogs. (The internet is a great way to meet people, by the way. They should make a dating site for that and name it Match or something clever like that.) After the last few shows / presentations, I felt like I had the routine down. What to wear (heels), what not to wear (heels), and what to look for in each show and on the streets for inspiration to take back home. I realized that the week had a lot less to do with me (and what I was going to wear) and had a lot more to do with the business of fashion and the art of style. That even though I was nervous of the unknown, there was no reason to be nervous but excited. I started the week out feeling like I was an outsider who didn’t belong and I left feeling inspired to look at my closet again as art and a source of creativity, not so much concerned about where I belonged in the grand scheme of things. I’m not an expert in the industry, but I feel like that is a job well done.
And tomorrow, as promised, a post about how to take the trends I saw at Fashion Week and make them work for you now and next spring. It’s going to be life-changing. Maybe. It could be. We’ll see.
(PS: sorry for the truncated post, this was just SO long!)