When Carrie Bradshaw uttered these words in the movie Sex and the City, few of us could have foreseen what was in store for Fashion Week. In February, 2021 the majority of these anticipated stylish shows were virtual and each designer had an exclusive half-hour time slot to debut their collection through the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s digital platform, Runway 360, and on nyfw.com.
February 2012 was a different story. My daughter-in-law, Emily, who was the fashion editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer at that time, honored one of my bucket items lists and invited me to join her at Fashion Week. It was exciting and eye-opening. I was exposed to the hierarchy of the whole extravaganza. Her press credentials admitted her into some shows and she managed to finangled me into a couple. As interesting as these were, much like Bill Cunningham, I preferred the chic New York street wear, the fashionistas decked out in their finest hoping to be photographed and see themselves in the style pages. Afterwards, I introduced my willing daughter-in-law to my favorite New York wine bar where we spent way too much on champagne. We shared taxis and meals and had a most excellent adventure. It was perfect. A consummate example of carpe diem because the trip wouldn’t have been possible this year.
The first New York Fashion Week took place in 1943. Originally called “Press Week”, it was created to pull attention away from French fashion during World War II when the fashion industry insiders were unable to travel to Paris to attend French fashion shows. It was such a success, it has continued. Many cities now have seasonal fashion shows, but Paris, London, Milan and New York have long been the main attractions.
In a time when currently no one is asking “What should I wear today?”, does fashion matter? We have abandoned office wear and cocktail dresses for “lounge” wear. I admit, I have been struggling. Sweatpants and cheese sticks feel good. They are cozy and comfortable, but a body needs vegetables, protein and quality food. And just as a body deserves good fuel, it also deserves to be donned occasionally in fashion.
I have wondered if an interest in fashion is shallow. Is it self-love or social indoctrination? At the lovely age of 65, I have decided I don’t care if it is shallow. Looking at all the wondrous, fantastical outfits coming down the runway warms the cockles of my heart. But even when drooling over some of the styles, in the back of my mind is always the question “But can I wear that?” It reminds of me of watching The Dick Clark Show with my sisters back in the late 50s. Dick would play a record for two fresh-faced teens to rate from 1-10, always with the thought “Can I dance to it?”
Fashion is always changing, even before COVID we were embracing more casual styles. In our digital on-demand world, is it still relevant to “show” collections six months in advance? We have had time during our Pandemic Pause to re-evaluate our excess consumption and consider the many ethical and sustainable clothing brands that are pushing back against fast fashion. Even the regal Anna Wintour believes fashion will never be quite the same again as “values will have shifted.”
For fun, I compared several “Fall Fashion Trends” lists from the likes of Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, fashionista.com and others. There seem to be more differences of opinion than consensus, but one thing they do agree on is we’ll finally be wearing color – particularly hot pink! While I will be leaning more towards the cream-on-cream prediction, it is certainly about choices, wearing what you believe looks good and feels good. And indeed, that showcases your personality and provides the world with an accurate depiction of your soul. Luckily, I have last year’s pink linen jacket. I’m ahead of the game!
Fashion historians predict that once it is a safer world, people will quickly find a reason to go out again and will be excited to finally dress for the occasion. I know I will. I look forward to family dinners, meeting friends for coffee or cocktails and dining with Mr. Smith in our favorite Italian restaurant with its spettacolare, intoxicating aromas! I may not be wearing haute couture, but I won’t be wearing sweats.
C’est la vie.