NEW YORK–Blizzard Nemo ravaged the east coast on February 8, swiftly transforming New York City into a milk maze of buried taxis, blanketed streets, and slippery walking conditions for residents and tourists alike. Despite the effects of the deadly nor’easter, the stiletto heels of fashion’s elite players hit the powdered pavement on cue for Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week- an ode to the industry’s standard adage, “the show must go on.”
“Anything goes. The show always must go on,” said Makeda Saggau-Sackey, Editor-in-Chief of The Glamazon Diaries and a New York Fashion Week attendee. “Unless the tents crumble down due to heavy snow, the show will always go on. The curtain will come up, the lights will go on and the models will walk the runway.”
New York Fashion Week originated in the early 1940s to attract publicity to the growing American fashion industry. It has evolved into a bi-annual event held in September and February to showcase American designers’ newest creations for the Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer fashion cycles. The event, which had been hosted at Bryant Park for many decades, was recently moved to a larger venue in 2010-Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center.
“(Lincoln Center) was a little subdued. There wasn’t that crowd (with) flashing lights,” Saggau-Sackey said. “It didn’t have that high tourist area where people felt like ‘Oh my God, this person might be famous. I need to take a photo.”‘
Snowmobiles and city maintenance employees became unexpected additions to the routine lines of paparazzi guarding the entrance to Lincoln Center this year, bearing a reminder to all that even fashion, an industry that prides itself on flawless appearances, cannot hide from natural imperfection.
“Walking in slush and being scared of becoming fashion road kill in front of the tents and all of the photographers was a little nerve-wracking,” said Saggau-Sackey, remembering the night she even lost a shoe in all the snow.
Fashionistas all over town refused to let nearly two feet of snow affect their planned ensembles. Instead, women embellished their Fashion Week uniforms with exotic furs, gloves and knee-high boots in order to make the below freezing temperatures and bone-numbing wind a little more tolerable.
“There are some of the mentality that if you were not photographed you were not there, so they will put on their six inch stilettos in the snow with some crazy garb on and walk just so that a photographer will capture them,” said Saggau-Sackey. “It gives me something to smile about. That’s the beauty of Fashion Week. It’s always been that way. You want somebody to take notice.”
Inside the tents, the effects of the blizzard were far more noticeable. Attendance was dismal. Public transportation into the city became almost impossible as trains began running from only select towns and buses and taxis were sliding uncontrollably in the slushed streets. Runway shows that were always in high demand appeared desolate in comparison to years passed. The only consistent factor of Fashion Week was the nightlife. Hardly any of the after-parties were cancelled. Fashion’s most notorious “it” girls learned that standard after-parties were still happening through frantic memos sent to their iPhones. Still, the snow got to one signature American designer, Marc Jacobs, whose show got rescheduled all together.
“Some of his pieces were not done. They were coming from somewhere else and because flights were cancelled, some of the pieces were not there so they had to postpone it,” said Saggau-Sackey.
Still, some companies transformed the turmoil caused by the New York tundra into an opportunity for some unexpected, but clever publicity. Kmart developed a system over Twitter where they could operate as a fashion concierge. Fashionistas could tweet at Kmart using #fashionweekproblems asking for any product under $30 and Kmart representatives would deliver it to them wherever the customer was
“Kmart brought me boots and they brought a couple of the other fashion bloggers snow boots because most of them weren’t prepared for the snow,” said Saggau-Sackey. “It’s genius because it gets all of these bloggers who might not think of Kmart as a brand to go buy something from, but during Fashion Week Kmart is now visible to all of their followers, so their followers will go check out what Kmart has to offer.”
Saggau-Sackey remembers her days spent sneaking into the tents at Fashion Week when she was a college student way before Twitter was a sensation.
“I remember I was a novice coming to Fashion Week. I was getting standing seats. Ken Downing who is Senior Vice President at Neiman Marcus- I met him at one of my first times at Fashion Week. He said, ‘Honey, it’s just fashion. It’s always going to be there. Take your time,’” Saggau-Sackey said. “He’s right. When I started, I was wearing my five-inch heels and by the end of the week I had swollen ankles. But, I realized it is just fashion. It’s not serious. Fashion is not about being serious. It’s about having fun and being able to express yourself.”
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New York Fashion Week 2013 Photo Gallery: