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It's Almost Fashion Week. Let the Fun Begin!
Starting with — what else? — fashion week bingo.
Thank you for subscribing to Back Row. Paid subscribers get two Back Row posts each week, however, during fashion month, Back Row will send out extra fashion week recap posts for paid subscribers only. Today’s issue contains a free New York Fashion Week preview — including fashion week bingo! Upgrade your subscription — for $50 a year or $5 a month, the price of a New York latte — so you don’t miss a single story. Plus, you’ll get access to the complete Back Row archive and commenting.
Also, if any of you are in the Washington, D.C. area, please come see my talk about ANNA: The Biography hosted by FashionIntel.us on September 15 at 7 p.m. I’ll be signing books and discussing the intersection of fashion, politics, and power — and would love to see you there!
Fashion week begins next week in New York, in the biannual reminder that the whole “fashion system” that was allegedly decimated by the pandemic, when people couldn’t gather for fashion shows and didn’t buy the sorts of clothes that were shown at them, will persist! Take that, media! Back Row will be doing extra posts during the shows for paid subscribers only with a focus on FUN, which is what fashion shows are supposed to be, right? Even when they’re Very Serious Fashion Shows that only admit, like, the 50 most Fashion fashion people in the entire world. Yes, even in these displays of fashion hierarchy and flawless proportions, we will find the fun.
In all seriousness, though, I have found following the shows in recent years to be a bit challenging. Not only because there’s tons of content about them on social media, but also because fashion publications mix in their show coverage with a bunch of Kardashian news and “See Emily Ratajkowski on the Sidewalk” news and “Oh By the Way, This Perfume Launch” news, etc. Back Row will comb through social media posts and various fashion news sites to tell you what reviewers and fashion fans from across the internet said about the big shows, and report on anything else of note that happens when the fashion people gather. If you are at the shows and find yourself with a tip, DM me on Instagram or reply to one of these emails. Please note that a tip could be as simple as a great overheard comment! Or a sighting of Anna wearing sneakers, like this photo that a tipster sent me a few weeks ago.
Now, here’s a primer to get you prepared and excited, particularly for NYFW, which kicks off fashion month, followed by London, Milan, and Paris.
Wait, fashion week — this is still a thing? The pandemic didn’t kill it after all?
Nope! However, though it used to run from a Thursday to a Thursday, with some designers even showing on the Wednesday or Tuesday before, it now officially runs from Friday, September 9 through Wednesday, September 14. It is bookended by two of New York’s top designers to ensure people come to town for the whole almost-week. Proenza Schouler shows on the first day, and Tom Ford shows on the last.
However, even more truncated than in pre-pandemic years is New York’s men’s fashion shows. What used to be a men’s week and include 90 designers is now a men’s day.
What season are we seeing?
Spring/summer 2023. So, whatever you’ll wear when the weather is like this next year, basically. Do you think the Mar-a-Lago raid stuff will be wrapped up by then?
I thought the industry didn’t like showing clothes so far in advance of when people will actually buy them?
Well historically, yes, that’s true. And yet, here we are — still doing that very thing. To understand why this system is flawed, we can turn to one of my favorite fashion articles of the past five years from the New York Times about how the fashion industry “collapsed” during the pandemic, and how lines of comfy pastel sweats like Entireworld by Scott Sternberg were the future:
If there was a turning point, it might have been fall 2008. That year, New York Fashion Week drew an estimated 232,000 attendees and generated $466 million in visitor spending. Three days after it ended in September, the economy collapsed. The luxury market was already oversaturated, and now there was no one to buy the stuff. Stores panicked and marked everything down early. But then they did it again the next year, and the year after that, relying on markdowns to generate revenue and training consumers to shop on sale. So now you had summer dresses arriving in January and being discounted before the weather would even allow you to wear them.
And yet Entireworld has gone bust (which is really a shame since I loved their stuff), and we’re about to see a bunch of clothes we won’t wear until eight or nine months from now on the runways. Change is hard. But also, it’s probably good that the supply chain issues that prevented Tom Ford from showing in February aren’t obstructing things this time around.
Are we still talking about the supply chain? What’s next, you’re going to tell me NFTs have something to do with fashion week, too?
Obviously NFTs have something to do with fashion week. What year are you living in, 2021?
Vogue Business has a whole article about how you can buy a $100 NFT key at keys.nyfw.com and either receive product or be able to attend the fashion week shows of Altuzarra, Jonathan Simkhai, Kim Shui, AnOnlyChild, or The Blonds.
Upon purchasing the Keys to NYFW (available from Keys.NYFW.com), customers can select either the “IRL NYFW Experience” button to attend a physical event, or the “Designer Keepsake” option to obtain a limited-edition physical product from the brand. Payments are available via ETH, Afterpay (which partnered on the experience), or credit card. To bring more people into the fold, Afterpay is also offering 250 free NFT keys with the drop, offering behind-the-scenes NYFW content.
Afterpay is the big NYFW sponsor again this season, so I kind of see this as the 2022 version of those troughs of Muscle Milk you used to see around the show venues.
Selling tickets to the shows kind of makes sense. Fashion shows are expensive to produce.
This is true. You can also buy tickets to them without going the NFT route at this site. However, it’ll run you $5,650 to sit front row at Altuzarra and $21,775 to sit front row in a “premium” seat, meet Joseph Altuzarra himself, and have a styling session with him. If your budget is lower, well, for a starting price of $905 you can catch Badgley Mischka.
Anyone parachuting in from abroad to show in New York this time?
Yes, some Italians! Fendi will present a show to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the baguette bag on September 9. Marni will show on September 10, and is outfitting guests in archival pieces with the help of Decades vintage boutique owner Cameron Silver, so you know the street style will be on-point.
Back up. How exactly does a fashion show honor the anniversary of a specific style of handbag?
I don’t know. Where do the Selling Sunset real estate agents shop? This is one of those, “don’t think, just enjoy” sort of things.
What other designers do I need to know about?
The Black in Fashion Council’s Discover Showrooms will continue for a fifth season in partnership with IMG, which puts on fashion week. Per WWD, this season’s featured designers include Ajovang, Atelier NDigo, Harbison, Izayla, Jessica Rich, Kwame Adusei, Madame Adassa, Muehleder, Sammy B, and Vavvoune.
Fashion week sounds like it’s still an orgy of sponsors. Any sponsor-oriented spectacles to know about?
Well, after you buy your NFTs with Afterpay, you can hit a presentation by fellow NYFW sponsor Alo Yoga, which is showing its luxury cold-weather “Aspen Collection” at Spring Studios on September 10. Afterward, they’re hosting a panel discussion, WWD reports, about “wellness, mindfulness and mental health in the fashion industry.”
I thought this fashion week was for spring/summer collections. Now you’re talking about Aspen, cold weather… which is it?!
Yeah… again, don’t think. Your mind will inevitably wander to fashion week’s carbon emissions. Talk about a buzzkill!
I think I read something about how Vogue is trying to bring back fashion Fashion’s Night Out.
You sure did. Vogue, as part of its efforts as a, you know, publishing business to earn money through live events is staging, as Fashionista described it, “an outdoor runway show and street fair” in New York on September 12. Tickets are available for purchase at vogue.world, however the standing seats ($130) and third-row seats ($750) are sold out as of the time of publication of this newsletter, so unless you can spend $1,800 for the “second row package” or $3,000 for the “front row package,” you’re SOL.
But if this is out of your budget, fret not because there’s also a livestream! (Of course there’s a livestream.) Unclear if it will feature the food carts but god I’m dying to know what a Vogue food cart is. One can only hope they offer chicken pot pies imprinted with “Vogue.world” for $29.99 each.
It’s kind of weird that you can buy your way into so much of fashion week now, isn’t it? I feel like whenever this idea came up in the past, it was haughtily dismissed.
Well isn’t this what fashion is all about anyway? Buying your way in? Plus, let’s be honest — it’s no accident that this is happening when fashion magazines, which once sent droves of editors to the shows, now dispatch a fraction of the people they did ten years ago. It’s not like we need proof that this trend will continue, but see: Allure’s recently announced print closure. The human infrastructure that used to justify and support all the effort and excess of fashion week isn’t quite the same, so wealthy consumers may as well prop it up. Even though the industry has admitted this system no longer makes a lot of sense, it continues because in some ways it does make sense — as a means for the industry to both coalesce and showcase for the public the beautiful stuff it can create.
Anything else I should look for?
So much. Here’s a handy fashion week bingo board to guide you. When you spot these things at fashion week, mark the space. If you’re not attending the shows, mark things off as they are mentioned in Back Row’s coverage. HAVE FUN.