NY Conversation October 2010

So last week was New York Fashion Week. This basically means that there’s shitloads of fashion parades around town wherein various designers unveil “Fall 2010”, i.e. what you’re supposed to be wearing this year if you can afford a new wardrobe. Which I can’t.

Despite my general lack of interest in purchasing ruinously expensive clothing, I tagged along to a few events, largely out of curiosity and for the free drinks. It’s one of the more pleasing aspects of New York life that parties – whether in Fashion Week or otherwise – are almost invariably sponsored by a prominent brand of alcohol. This means that there’s always much freeloading to be done, and since freeloading is a crucial component of freelancing, this week has found NY Conversation propping up various fashionable bars. The whole idea sounds OK in theory, but in reality you walk in, survey the room and… awwwww, shit. I knew I forgot something: I hate these people.

Or, at least, I think I hate them. I can’t decide for sure, because in the course of a week, I’ve barely spoken to anyone apart from the bartenders. Honestly, I’ve never in my life encountered anything quite like the fashion crowd’s ability to simply refuse to acknowledge your existence. At least people who are blowing you off in Australia actually make dull conversation while they look over your shoulder for someone more important to speak to. Not so here – I fretted that people might judge me by my lack of Louis Vuitton accessories, but I get the feeling I could have turned up in a sandwich board proclaiming affiliation with the Westboro Baptist Church and still everyone would have stared straight through me in search of the next killer networking opportunity.

This meant that I spent most of my time at these events just… observing. Which, in its own strange way, was kinda enjoyable.

I have undoubtedly seen many famous people, although sadly I’ve been oblivious to their identities. But! I have also seen at least one pair of genuine arse implants. I have seen 8” platform stilettos navigated with nonchalance. I have been introduced to a woman who does not cook at home because she uses her fridge as an extra wardrobe for her jeans. I have seen how curiously insectoid models look up close, all angular arms and legs, and the faintly desperate expressions that creep onto their faces when they’re left alone for a moment. I have seen several photographers form an impromptu circle and take photos of one another, like some sort of mutually priapic paparazz-off.

I have discovered that “muse” constitutes a valid job description.

I have heard a DJ drop Phil Collins’ ‘Sussudio’ without a hint of irony, and I have heard the Ting Tings more times than I care to remember. I have also discovered that to DJ in New York, you need a) comedy spectacles; and b) to be related to someone famous. I have been ushered away from VIP areas by very large men. I have seen people with genuine entourages. I have seen more face-kissing than at a European wedding.

I have spent at least an hour waiting to insult Lou Reed, having got wind he was going to be at a certain event, only for the contrary old bastard not to show up. I have stumbled into a serious fashion parade at an op shop. I have marvelled at the collective ability of the few people with whom I did converse to simply turn their back on you and start talking to someone else. I have not parted with a single business card. My networking skills are clearly way below fashion industry standards.

I have drunk lots of free vodka.

But still, for all the perverse anthropological appeal of watching people whose greatest talent and concern is how they dress themselves, prêt à porter eventually became prêt à partir. About halfway through the last party I attended before I lost patience with the whole thing, I realised exactly what the fashion world reminded me of: being at kindergarten, watching in quiet bewilderment as my fellow three-year-olds squeaked in excitement at the prospect of playing dress-ups, and wondering when we could get back to playing with the Lego.

It’s strange encountering people whose priorities are so entirely different to yours. Ultimately, it feels almost irrelevant to point out that, y’know, there are people starving to death while we argue the merits of chiffon and contrasting prints – objecting to fashion people being fashion-obsessed is kinda like getting upset at your friend’s pet dog for humping your leg. It’s just how they are.

But all’s well that ends well – the emperor has plenty of new clothes to choose from for another season, and I’m back home in my daggy old track pants and hoodie. Eventually, I guess I’ll be heading back to the op shop… once the fashion parade has finished.

3 thoughts on “NY Conversation October 2010

  1. Cracking column, Brother. Being snubbed is funny isn’t it? In my hood in Rio, it just doesn’t happen. The other night in Ouro Preto, however, I met some people from loftier parts of Rio, chatted briefly and moved on. I saw them the next day and attempted a “Hey, tudo bem?” and was completely – COMPLETELY – ignored. I proceded to run into them at every turn during the day. Eventually I went up and asked if they remembered me, which they begrudgingly conceded they did. Staggering. Unfortunately there were no free drinks to ease one through the day.


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