Here’s what you need to know to navigate Fashion Week like a pro
Twice a year, the fashion world collectively packs its bags, stocks up on coffee, and takes off on the Fashion Week circuit to the world’s fashion capitals: New York, London, Milan, and Paris—always this quartet, and always in this order. Indeed, since New York held its first fashion week in 1945 when World War II didn’t permit travel to Paris for the French fashion shows as usual, New York has twice a year served as the stage for American design: once in the spring for Fall/Winter collections, and once in the fall for Spring/Summer. This fall, September 10–17 will once again see the city change into the fashion-focused circus that is New York Fashion Week, with not only a back-to-back schedule of designer runway shows, but also a frenzy of shopping and pop-up events, parties, and special nightlife, and the streets walked like runways by editors, models, celebrities, bloggers, and anyone wanting to don their best and slip into the week’s energy.
This past February’s New York Fashion Week saw some major changes for the event. For the first time since 2007, Mercedes-Benz was not the sponsor (IMG took the reigns and also acquired competitor fashion week Made Fashion Week), and the Council of Fashion Designers of America took full control of the fashion calendar. But the repercussions of these changes are primarily industry jargon. What concerns everyone else is that the event was pulled out of its most recent home at Lincoln Center and now takes place at a variety of venues downtown, the main ones including Milk Studios and gallery spaces in Chelsea, Spring Studios near Tribeca, and Hudson River warehouse spaces at piers 94 (which, at 54th Street, loosely marks the uppermost boundary of locales), 59, and 36.
The focus of the week is, of course, on the shows themselves. Although many are invitation-only, popular ways to get in on the action are to camp out by the venue and watch the glamorous hubbub before and after or to tune-in to the shows streaming live online at newyorkfashionweeklive.com. This year’s lineup has already been announced, with highlights including Wes Gordon and Jason Wu on September 11; Alexander Wang on the 12th; Diane Von Furstenberg and Opening Ceremony on the 13th; The Row, Phillip Lim, and Thom Browne on the 14th; Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, and Narciso Rodriguez on the 15th; Michael Kors and Proenza Schouler on the 16th; and Ralph Lauren closing on the 17th.
Perhaps the best way to participate in Fashion Week, though, is just to know where else to go. Located right across the street from Milk Studios—a revolving door for fashion shows and presentations—Chelsea Market is one of the week’s most popular places to grab a quick bite with its numerous artisan food shops, and the High Line right above never fails to provide exceptional people watching. Also nearby is the Standard Hotel, whose Standard Grill is one of Meatpacking’s classiest dinner spots, Le Bain nightclub throws some of the week’s best parties, and the Top of the Standard—also known as the uber-exclusive Boom Boom Room—serves one of the most star-studded Sunday brunches in the city (make a reservation). The fashion crowd is also known to love its art and galleries, including the Pace, David Zwirner, and Gagosian all in the West 20s which cater to this, often hosting some of their best exhibitions of the year during this time—the latter’s exhibition of Roy Lichtenstein’s Green Street Mural running in September is sure to draw a crowd popping in on the way from one show to another.
SoHo’s streets of designer flagships and design boutiques often host special events during Fashion Week, perhaps staging a small exhibition, makeup workshop, book signing, or pop-up stall. Usually announced not long in advance, the best way to find out what’s going on is to keep an eye on Women’s Wear Daily’s Twitter account or to simply wander the streets. Balthazar Bakery on Spring Street is a known favorite lunch spot for the likes of Anna Wintour and the Beckhams, and Opening Ceremony’s boutique on Howard Street is one of downtown’s main shopping hot spots. But when in search of some convenient peace and quiet, many of the fashion set head to Elizabeth Street for its more intimate shops and restaurants: Love Adorned for one-of-a-kind vintage jewelry, the chic Public restaurant to discuss the day’s runways over tartare and a drink.
The bars of the SoHo Grand and Tribeca Grand, sister hotels some four blocks from each other on either side of Canal Street, are watering holes in the evenings as well, before out-of-town editors looking to have an early night head up to their rooms. And as the week wraps up, head to Aire Ancient Baths on Franklin Street in Tribeca—an ultra-luxurious baths spa inspired by the soaking traditions of the Greek and Roman empires where you might well share a pool with a model or two, looking to its waters for their detoxifying and rejuvenating effects. After the non-stop excitement of New York Fashion Week, it’s the perfect place to unwind.