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New York Fashion Week is a twice-yearly circus of models, editors, insiders, and scenesters. Here's a handy guide to help you sound just like one of the pros.
Fashion Week Is Twice-Yearly, and It's Invite-Only
Fashion Week takes New York by storm in September and February, as fashion insiders from all over the world converge on the city for a week of runway shows, presentations, and parties. The clothing debuting on the runways runs exactly counter to the seasons in which they're held (Spring is shown in September; Fall in February). While some might think that it's open to only the fabulous, fashion week's first and foremost acts as an industry event connecting designers (and their wares) with the press and buyers to help said designers advance their careers and move merchandise. Designers use celebrities and socialites as vehicles to build buzz around their brands. (Sshh! It's not always because they're actually friends!) Bottom line: If you don't have an invite, it's unlikely you're getting in.
Fashion Week Is Not Always Fun
While it's true that attending a runway show can be incredibly glamorous, scheduling and attending hundreds in one week can be a grueling exercise. A runway show itself averages around 10-12 minutes, so essentially, for every 10 minutes of show time, around an hour is spent in transit, checking in and getting seat assignments, waiting in line for an interview, or -- worst of all -- sprinting down a city street in heels trying to make it in time for a show. As glamorous as the fashion industry may seem, it's hard work: Editors and buyers spend countless hours prepping schedules, taking notes, and conducting interviews, while designers themselves spend many a late night leading up to the shows working with their staff to put the finishing touches on an entire collection.
Yes, the Front Row Really Matters
Where you're seated during the runway shows is the most direct indicator of how important a figure said designer considers you to be. If you're in the third row, you really can't see the clothes as well, so any designer would want the A-listers front and center. In addition, the front row has lately served as a nice way of highlighting the most fabulous people attending a designer's show, which builds more press, which sells more garments ... you get the idea.
This Year, For the First Time, Fashion Week's Home Base Will Be Lincoln Center
Since the early 1990s, Bryant Park has been the home of the big tents of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, but this year the circus is moving uptown to a new home, with a slew of new digital upgrades to the check-in process.
That Said, Fashion Week Shows Happen All Over the City
Designers are increasingly choosing to show at locations all over the city: Marc Jacobs has held his show at the Armory for years; Jason Wu is showing in Soho this year, and a slew of indie talents are converging on Milk Studios this season, where MAC has again established a downtown (not to mention less expensive) counterpoint to the Mercedes-Benz festivities at Lincoln Center.
It Has a Worldwide Impact
The trends you see on the runways at fashion week -- both in New York and Paris, Milan, and London -- directly influence what you'll be wearing next season, whether you shop at Saks Fifth Avenue, Forever 21, or any number of stores in between. You may not be able to afford the leopard print accessories coming down the runway, but you'll be surprised to start spotting all manner of leopard print pieces cropping up in stores all over the country by the following season.