I have a notepad and a pen, my glasses are Warby Parker and sometimes they slide down the bridge of my nose, I’m wearing a cardigan. This is my first ever New York Fashion Week.
Throughout the next few days, people will ask me what I think of this world with the same excitement that one asks the newly deflowered about sex, or the previously square about their first-ever mushroom trip. I think it works for me. My brand does, I concede, run the risk of skewing more condescending egghead prick, and when I tell the publicist who got me on the list that allows me to move through the velvet ropes to the runway that this is the first time I’ve ever been on an official list, the tone is a bit off — it’s less of a gentle jab at my listless life, and more of a sort of low-hanging-fruit shot at list culture, which I am currently benefiting from. She laughs, then says, “Wait, really?” then looks at the press credentials she gave me and seems to realize all at once what a waste of good access I might be. Self-presentation is a delicate business, particularly here. You want to be noticed and, when you are, you want to belong.
In just a few minutes, I will be one of the lucky witnesses to Astrid Andersen’s first runway show in America, an event that is made an event by the fact that, on the rotating digital boards stationed around Milk Studios, which is the primary host of Made Fashion Week, which is just one part of New York Fashion Week, and is sponsored by partnerships with Lexus, American Express, Macy’s, Maybelline, Intel, Zacapa Rum, The Wall St. Journal, Ciroc Ultra Premium Vodka, and Tumblr, among others, there is a headline that proclaims, “Astrid Andersen: Stateside At Last.” It’s a brilliant use of at last. We have all, it says, been waiting for Astrid Andersen, a Danish designer who lives and works in London, and is, according to her website, “determined to fuse the worlds of luxury and sports.” I read this description on the Amtrak into New York and imagined a room full of pink Juicy sweat suits, but I’m beginning to question that original instinct.
Borders at fashion week are ever-present, and also strangely permeable. This is a place, after all, where art and commerce so actively comingle, where people build and promote their own aesthetic while watching the presentation of someone else’s. The clothes are at the center of it, the idea of them, the anticipation of that moment when they are shown, but Astrid Andersen is hidden away somewhere, and the models are out of sight, as well, being prodded and assessed one last time. I stand in the back row, behind the chairs reserved for people who matter more than I do, and wait for the show to start. Everything is behind schedule, but nobody seems to care except for one antsy young woman who keeps muttering, “they said 8:00,” and is getting looks from the rest of the crowd that are so simultaneously withering and pitying that I feel, for the first time, secure in the fact that I am not the most hapless imposter in the room. The rest of the crowd doesn’t behave as though they notice the absence of the show or the models, and this is my first profound lesson of fashion week: everything is the show; everyone is the model.
The audience that trickles in through the velvet ropes has dressed to signify allegiance with the occasion. They have made a choice to be present at the promotion of Astrid Andersen’s brand, and it’s a substantive choice for each of their personal brands. The later a group arrives, the more important they seem to be to everyone around them, and they move along the runway, greeting, posing. Wealthy older women sweep into the room in groups of three or four, all in unironic minks. They give gentle double-cheek kisses and settle into the first row, imperious, but not stuffy, since they are here, late on a Thursday night, with a heavy grime beat pulsating through the floor beneath them, ready to check out some really fancy sweats.
The old and the wealthy are followed by the young and shabby, who are maybe also wealthy? The younger people seem to come in packs of four as well, and they give the gatekeepers the kind of jittery, too-long hugs that seem to be a direct advertisement for the quality of their cocaine and for themselves, too, for managing to get their hands on said cocaine. They strut through the runway and blow kisses to those already seated. They are intentionally garish. One woman wears a pink fur hat and a black sheer top, and she and her friend keep taking pictures of her nipples. One man, in a bright orange Supreme jacket and baggy, leopard print windbreaker pants, rolls his eyes at everything his friends say and do, and this quality makes him impossible not to look at. He is ridiculous, yet he behaves as though everything else is ridiculous, and that combined with the implied cocaine seems to be the embodiment of everything this particular fashion show is about — flashy apathy, opulent rebellion. An intern with a big camera comes up to the orange-coated eye-roller and asks for a picture of him. He says, “yeah, alright,” and attempts no smile. She shows him the shot, he approves it, and she moves on.
I spot a woman with a big hat who I am positive is Lorde, but then I see two other women that I think are Lorde, so I figure none of them are. I watch a man pose in a glorious fur lined bomber jacket and I’m pretty sure it’s Timbaland, but it isn’t so I feel racist. Cameras capture them all, place them on the Made Fashion Week runway, next to each other, near Astrid Andersen and her clothes. The last one to walk in is a middle-aged Japanese man, wearing sweatpants cut into shorts and a black mesh trench coat. He smiles at everyone who calls out to him, revealing braces that have been bedazzled in some way. He has a friend with him, who stays silent, but wears black fur boxing gloves and keeps clenching and unclenching his fists. They, too, are impossible not to look at, which is, I suppose, the point. By the time the lights dim and they take their seats, it’s hard to imagine that there is any show left.
You really can fake it until you make it, or at least until someone asks to take your picture, which in this context, is pretty much making it.
But, of course, there is the thing we came for, announced by a new song and a hush in the crowd. Andersen’s collection seems to draw from both Stalinist and Black Power influences, adding a sheen of metallic futurism and topping it all off with willowy fur hoods. That is a real sentence, and I mean every word of it. In some cases, the fur hoods are replaced by neighborhood watch caps. Sometimes an insignia resembling a basketball, but not exactly, is stitched onto the chest. Sometimes the word Astrid is written across the whole torso, or there’s at least an A right over the nipple, like a letterman jacket if letterman jackets were made of fur and paired well with multi-patterned parachute pants. The color palate moves from a stark black and white into deep maroon, and finally, in a couple of looks, a gleaming blood red. The jackets and sweatshirts are long and wide, and they hang regal off the also-long skeletons of the models. It all looks heavy as it passes. The weight of the fabric seems to settle on the slim, swaggering bodies, and then there’s that movement that everybody talks about on Project Runway, so textured and real, so non-ephemeral.
Every moment of the show is photographed, not just by the clenched tumor of media photographers at the end of the runway, but by nearly every person in attendance. Phones are glued to eyes, and are swiveled around the room. Before the show ends, people are checking their phones, reviewing the captured images of the thing that is still happening, posting to Instagram, to Twitter. In real time, anyone who cares to know can know that we are here, at the Astrid Andersen show (you can tell because the clothes say Astrid). And she’s finally stateside. And, look, it’s that Japanese man with bedazzled braces across from me in the front row, he’s here, too, at the Astrid Andersen show, at the Standard Hotel.
A woman standing next to me begins to photograph the runway in selfie form — she turns her back to the models and shoots them over her shoulder with her face foregrounded, her lips and hair and glasses all an integral part images that she will post to her personal accounts, and also to the accounts of the blog that she is reporting for. She checks each shot, grimaces or smiles, writes a new caption. I’ll see her at a show tomorrow and she’ll say she got in trouble for one of the snarky captions she wrote on her personal Instagram account, something about not even having a seat reserved for her. The PR team for the fashion show will see it and tell the blog that she’s writing for that they don’t like it, and the blog will get pissed because ungrateful attitude is not part of the brand they are projecting, even though irreverence is a part of this woman’s personal brand, both stylistically and attitude-wise.
“I was making fun of egos,” she will say. “That’s the irony.”
“At least they’re paying attention to your Instagram,” I will say, and she’ll concede that, yeah, that’s true.
The show ends in maybe five minutes. The models all come out together, and Astrid Andersen peeks her head out from behind a curtain, waves once. The exodus is fast. There are other shows tonight; there are VIP events; there is an invite-only after-party. Everything that had seemed to be the center of the world, namely Astrid Andersen, her fusion of street and luxury, her South London grime soundtrack, has disappeared. We all move to the elevators, past the velvet-rope gatekeepers who no longer seem stressed, past the wall that gives special thanks to each brand partner, to the elevator, to the street, where more photographers are waiting.
“Can I take your picture?”
At 9:30 the next morning, I’m hung over in the Lexus Lounge backstage, waiting for Wes Gordon’s show. Astrid Andersen’s after party went late last night, and all the alcohol was free. I drank a lot of Bulleit bourbon, first because I was nervous, then because it was pointed out to me that drinking bourbon is a pretty writerly thing to do, and I figured I needed to cultivate my personal brand by any means necessary. I spent the whole night trying to talk to Astrid Andersen, who was sequestered away in the back room of the club, which looked, every time I peeked in, to be exactly like the rest of the club. I had a wristband that was supposed to furnish me with access, and I wanted to meet her, to tell her that I really liked her fusion of luxury and sport. But when I showed my wristband to the gatekeeper, I got a hard, accented no, which then happened a lot over the course of the night, until she finally stopped speaking to me and just shook her head whenever I passed.
Shaun White, the snowboarder guy showed up to Andersen's afterparty because, sure. Kanye West’s creative director, Virgil Abloh, semi-hosted the event, which made all the coke kids waiting to use the bathroom in groups wonder aloud if Kanye himself would make an appearance, and that small possibility seemed to lift the significance of the evening. One kid walked past me wiping his nose, and yelled to his friend, “Everyone here looks so poor, but in, like, a really fresh, really interesting way,” which I think means that the event was a success.
Wes Gordon’s vibe is different. He’s all about glamour and elegance for women, and so there’s an onslaught of elegance pouring in from the cold outside. Some attendees are even wearing his clothes from previous lines, and after the show they’ll find him and say, “Honey, look,” and he’ll say, “It’s perfect on you.” The collective need to look like a model or a star during an event when you are watching real models, surrounded by real stars, is best compared to sitting at a football game with a bunch of dudes in replica jerseys, as though, if there’s an injury on the field, an audience member can be plugged into the action and, from a distance, it might be hard to notice the switch. This is, I imagine, a comparison that wouldn’t exactly please either party, but I will say that the fashion equivalent is far less depressing. Not a single person looks desperate or like they don’t belong here, with the notable exception of me. You really can fake it until you make it, or at least until someone asks to take your picture which, in this context, is pretty much making it.
I’m drinking complimentary champagne in a failing attempt at hair-of-the-dog, and compiling a list of what I think is either newly, still, or, once again, in fashion. So far, I’ve got: leather jackets, top knots, shaved or semi-shaved heads that expose head tattoos, septum piercings, sneakers, cigarettes, being tall, alternatively being very short, women wearing large jackets but never putting their arms in the sleeves, winter hats that don’t really cover your ears, pants with writing on them, undershirts that are really long and stick out beneath sweaters, fur of any kind, the phrase “off the chain,” having children and displaying those children, trench coats, clear purses, and midriffs.
I am trying to understand what made these things fashionable. I ask who was the first influencer to pierce his septum. When did this happen? How did others catch on? It’s impossible to know, I’m told. You just start seeing it around, on models and publicists and club kids. Maybe the club kids did it first, but who knows. By the time someone as dense as me can notice a trend, it’s as though a time before the trend never existed. Why wouldn’t you pierce your septum? And the whole no-arms-in-your-sleeves thing? The first woman I saw doing this at the show last night stood out for wrapping herself in her jacket like that. Now, by morning, it seems nearly inconceivable that a woman would fully wear a coat as opposed to draping it, and I find myself sort of disgusted by arms. Like, really, what do they do besides get in the way of a nice drape?
Most of backstage is windowless, and that adds to the feeling of things having no beginning or end. Every time I come back here, it will be the same. A bass line thumping steadily, young women in headsets manning doors to various sponsored rooms, camera crews swirling around, capturing fake candid shots of the kind of behind-the-scenes VIP access that theoretically no one is allowed to see, yet it’s all being recorded and published in real time. The Lexus Lounge will always be stocked with Veuve Clicquot on ice, trays of miniature quiche, and a table full of white chocolate truffles set on ceramic oyster shells so that they look like pearls. The American Express Lounge will always be off limits, except to designers, influencers, and American Express preferred customers, who I will see ushered in at all times of the day. There will always be a plentiful supply of Smart Water, and various other drinks that have partnered with the event, and there will always be models in chairs being prodded, while hair stylists and make-up artists take breaks to give quick interviews about the products they are using on the models and how those products can translate just as well to the casual glamour girl in her apartment, getting ready for work.
I leave and hurry to the runway, where the show is about to start. Cameras move up and down the aisle taking pictures, attendees embrace. Everything is happening all over again, but the stakes have been significantly raised by the presence of Anna Wintour, perched imperiously in the middle of the front row, waiting. Even I recognize her and recognize the fact that her presence matters. The lights dim and then they rise again and she’s still there, visible behind each model walking past, and that only makes the clothes more beautiful. It’s a nearly monochromatic line, sheer white blouses over black leather skirts, billowing charcoal pants, slim black blazers. When there is color, a purple floral pattern, the color is brighter in context, like you’ve been waiting for something purple, but you didn’t know it.
It all looks expensive. That’s the best compliment I can give, because I think it confirms the desired effect. I watch the clothes move by and the fabric seems to shiver with the models’ steps, that’s how delicate it is. All I can think is that these pieces of fabric are more expensive than any piece of fabric I will ever own, and also that I bet they feel nice to touch. It’s hard to know how much of the effect is influenced Madame Wintour, the force of her famous gaze, and the knowledge that all of us in the room have chosen to stare at and have been allowed to stare at the same garments that she has chosen to stare at. When the show ends, she moves backstage and in a few quick minutes creates a sublime mutual orgasm of branding, the lingering trembles of which are felt throughout the day. Anna Wintour came to see Wes Gordon and suddenly everyone is talking about this show as a kind of graduation for him. And Made Fashion Week, as an entity, which sought out and brought in Wes Gordon, undergoes an instant graduation of sorts, as well. Yesterday, she was next to Beyoncé at Lincoln Center, and now she is here. And Lexus, because, yes, she stops by the Lexus Lounge and is photographed inside it, among the champagne flutes and white chocolate oysters. And American Express, and Maybelline, and all the other brand partners. And then everyone who represents those brand partners, each member of each public relations team, who can say to her brand that Anna Wintour was at an event that they partnered with, was seen standing by a wall on which they are thanked. And every photographer who takes her picture. And every society maven stuffed into a Wes Gordon dress, whose personal brand revolves around tasteful affluence and is suddenly just feet away from the human embodiment of tasteful affluence. And even me. I start texting my wife, my mother, friends: Saw Anna Wintour today. Plus, I make a joke about thinking Anna Wintour and Joan Didion are the same person and a pretty legit style blogger asks if she can quote me. Unattributed, but still.
Soon she is gone, and the Lexus Lounge is mostly empty again. The models clear out and sprint to their next jobs. Those of us left sit and scroll through Instagram posts of the event that we were just present for minutes ago, while a crew of Central American women sweep up discarded hair extensions, readying the space for the next designer.
The day moves along. I camp out in the media room for a while, which I assumed would be populated by journalists, but it isn’t at all. My notepads and my pens are comical when I set them on a desk — flaccid, hokey tools in the face of instant, constant promotional content.
Everyone here is in some way serving some important commercial interest, but it’s hard to tell who is serving what interest, since a fashion show is built on partnerships, or at least on the word partnership, so it’s kind of all one big content generating team. There is a calendar on the wall that covers every day of Made Fashion Week. On the Y-Axis are all the brand partners and, at the meeting point of each day and each brand, there are stickers with logos for various social media platforms. The best I can tell, these are instructions — what media is required for what brand, and when it is required, a conversation that is both seamlessly natural and minutely curated.
I am yelled over by people far too busy to see me.
“J.R. needs a Lexus to step out of tonight, how do we do that?”
J.R. Smith is a basketball player who, for reasons that haven’t been clearly explained to me, is co-hosting an after party tonight with GiGi Hadid, a model and the daughter of a Bravo TV personality, in the Maybelline lounge upstairs. It is imperative that influencers like J.R. and GiGi are seen stepping out of Lexuses and so it is the job of one or many of the incredibly busy, incredibly beautiful twenty-somethings around me to ensure that car and star and event come together at the right time.
More than a media room, this is both the brain and heart of the operation, running fifteen hours a day at breakneck speed. People snap at each other, then squash beefs with admirable speed and grace.
“AmEx doesn’t want a Wes Gordon runway shot if it doesn’t have AmEx branding; I told you that.”
“No they said it’s fine. They’re cool to be tagged in a non-branded photo of a designer. They want all the content to be organic.”
“Well then how do we know if it’s a branded post?”
“I don’t know, honey, just run it.”
Brief moments of reprieve are spent scrolling through Instagram, looking at photos from last night’s after party.
“God, last night was popping. Everyone was making out.”
Time moves very fast when everyone around you is so busy and, again, when there are no windows or any indicators that a drab, fashionless world beyond this one exists. I wander up to the Maybelline lounge in the penthouse, sit with a blogger and somebody who is apparently a big shot for L’Oreal. The room is nearly empty, but there is a DJ spinning listlessly on a white stage. A camera girl comes around: “Can I take your picture for Maybelline?” We all say, “Alright.”
I head to the next show in Made’s lineup, by far the weirdest one I’ve seen, by a young pair called Ammerman Schlossberg. I’m told that collection is inspired by both furries and insane asylums. The crowd is like all the other crowds except younger and more unabashed — this is the show that welcomes the most outlying excesses of one’s personal brand, and so photos are snapped of middle-aged buyers in bright, rubbery suits and metal mesh, kids who look to be teenagers in layers of tattered color, with earrings dangling down onto their shoulders like icicles. The runway has been transformed into something approximating a hospital room, with white tile floor and an arrangement of “get well” balloons. The sound of a life support machine plays overhead, until the show starts and music kicks in, a metal song with the simple, poignant lyrics, “Everyone is going to fucking die.” The models are even more emaciated than the other models I’ve seen, or perhaps it only feels that way because the aesthetic is geared toward illness. They wear eye-patches. Some make-up has been styled to look like bloody tear streaks. They snarl at us in the crowd, a collection of Red Cross nurses who tried their best in the face of a zombie invasion, but were ultimately overtaken, chewed up, tuned evil. We lean in at them, take pictures of their sneers, post them wherever we post them, and then again, the show is over, the crowd is gone, the tone is changed.
Back in the Lexus Lounge, there is no suggestion that anybody is going to fucking die, ever. There is another show set to begin, from a French pair called Cushnie Et Ochs, who specialize in sexy dresses and who seem an entirely other species from Ammerman Schlossberg, except that they are on the same bill, on the same day, sponsored by the same sponsors. I am allowed into the back room of the Lexus Lounge, the #DesignDisrupted studio, which has been put together by an artist that Lexus supports and furnished with various pieces of sustainable jewelry, which is apparently something that Lexus is very into. This room requires special access, I think, since it is used as a space for celebrities to relax and be photographed alone, to alleviate the stress of being photographed around other people. Miley Cyrus unwound in here last season, I’m told. Often, though, when I peek through the curtain, it is empty except for the employees whose job is to determine who is allowed to come in.
What’s amazing is how something so repetitive does not lose its sheen. If I am learning anything, it’s that wonder and prestige can be reborn here; buzz can be shifted, dulled, regenerated.
The room is alive now, in a state of simultaneous post-show and pre-show. I sit on a leather block near the wall, sip Veuve, (which has become my default move at all times), and watch a makeshift red carpet happen. Influencers are ushered in. Their photos are snapped in front of the grey wall with #DesignDisrupted written on it a hundred times, they are given a glass of champagne, and then they are free to lounge with other influencers, watching the pictures get taken. Who are these people?
Well, that’s J. Logan Horn in the green jacket. He’s a stylist and he’s friends with all the party kids.
And him right there in the shiny knee-high boots, that’s Bryanboy. He’s one of the first generation of millionaire bloggers. How does he make a million dollars off a blog? I ask. There doesn’t really seem to be an answer for that.
Behind Bryanboy is Susie Bubble; she’s an influential blogger, too.
Next to her is Jamie Chung, the actress who inexplicably marries Ed Helms in The Hangover 2 and who, with her ready smile and Jackie O-type dress, seems to have nothing to do with Bryanboy or Susie Bubble, other than the fact that they are both important enough to pose in front of the #DesignDisrupted wall.
With Jamie Chung is another actress and model, Emily Ratajkowski, who I am told (correctly) that I might recognize as the young woman whose breasts are briefly visible in Gone Girl. Both actresses wear dresses by Cushnie Et Ochs because, they like to wear Cushnie Et Ochs for award shows and the like, and this is just another facet of a symbiotic relationship that perpetuates the beauty and relevance of each party.
With the actresses, too, is a woman named Chelsea Leland, who I am informed is a fashion DJ, which is I guess better than being a regular DJ, and is also kind of an actress, and who is British, and whose dad is maybe someone important.
There’s another every minute: Natalie Joos, one of the biggest casting agents in New York, and Simon Collins, the Dean of Parsons, and Alina Cho, who used to work for CNN. And that guy, who looks nondescript but owns something, and that woman who was been at New York Fashion Week since the very beginning, doing what I’m not exactly sure.
I had heard of exactly one of these people before I saw them, yet I am very impressed, and try to hold very still so that I don’t bump into anyone important and get kicked out. If someone is displayed to you like you should feel honored to see him or her, then that’s exactly what you feel. Part of my self-identity has revolved around not being the kind of person to get caught up in such frivolity, but is it really frivolous. Just look at Bryanboy. Look at those boots. Why should I feel anything other than giddy at the prospect of seeing him stand around?
The room is packed now, more crowded, actually, than the space outside where you don’t need to be particularly special to stand. It’s also very hot because there are no windows and no thermostat particular to the room, so in a very small space, holding blanket-sized sized jackets in one hand and champagne in the other, a diverse group of influencers begins to glance around and ask one another whether it is, in fact, a bit hot in here. Quickly, with relief, they file out of maximum exclusivity and into semi-exclusivity, where the runway show is soon about to start.
What’s amazing is how something so repetitive does not lose its sheen. If I am learning anything, it’s that wonder and prestige can be reborn here; buzz can be shifted, dulled, regenerated. Buzz, I am told, is a word that nobody really likes to use, but what is a better word? The runway is actually buzzing with the combination of voices and camera flashes, the ever-present bassline, the clicking of a million different variations of a boot heal on the same stone floor. Cushnie Et Ochs is a totally different feeling than any of the other shows that I have been to. The music is gentler, though still pulsating, and the color palate moves from pristine white, to bright red, to a forest green velvet pant suit, to this weirdly sexy dark teal fur coat that tingles and glistens every time the model steps. Midriffs are exposed, and backs, and cleavage (although, on many of these models I don’t think it can be called that), and dangerously protruding collarbones that toe the line between alluring and grotesque.
Divine, people say in the rush to the exits. Gorgeous. Reinvigorating. Life-affirming. And then they’re out into the lobby, into a cab, onto the next event.
By the last show of the night, I’m exhausted, but strengthened by a sighting of Miss J., the man who teaches runway walking on America’s Next Top Model. He’s tearing into some hors d'oeuvres and I stare at him so blatantly that I think he positions himself behind one of his companions and waits for me to get discouraged.
It’s fitting to end with Chromat because this collection is entirely unwearable. It’s lingerie made by a woman with an architectural background. A couple of nights ago, that would have been my chief easy insult at the concept of a fashion shows — the impossibility of it all, the fact that what is on display and, I guess, soon to be on sale, has no connection to the lives of any normal human being. But backstage, still nearer to Miss J. than he would like, double fisting with Veuve and Smart Water (a particularly handy brand partnership), I watch the models get turned into erotic structures, and I am sold on the value of the endeavor. There are thick, stiff rings of fabric surrounding them. They stand close to seven feet tall; their already giant bodies hoisted up on platform boots that, in some cases, extend pass their knees and stop just below their ass cheeks. Their hair is tugged on and sprayed and molded into rope cables that hook over their heads, as though at any moment a crane might descend onto them, pluck them by their hair rope and carry them over New York.
When they leave the make-up chair to hurry to the bathroom before the show, I am stunned that they are people who walk and look embarrassed and occasionally need to pass fluid. The more educated fashion consumers around me have been talking about the ways that Chromat celebrates the female form, the way the clothes seem to love women, and I find myself surprised to agree, as I eavesdrop. This isn’t an easy love; it’s not meant to be relatable or even gentle. Instead, there is something intoxicating about the pageantry, the utter and unapologetic impracticality. I don’t think you want to wear it and I don’t think you’re supposed to lust after it; you merely bask in the reflected glow that this exists and you are close to it. So, again, it’s back to proximity.
The runway is rowdier for the night shows and there are even whoops as the swirling combinations of skin and leather and zipper pass certain younger sections of the crowd. At the end of the show, for the last model, the runway goes dark and we discover that her bra has been outfitted with green lasers, so flashbulbs go off and eye-phones are held up and hundreds of awed believers capture and post the novelty of two lights suspended in the dark, attached to what we all know to be breasts, moving. #Nipplelasers.
The crowd spills into the afterparty, the one hosted by J.R. Smith and GiGi Hadid. All the influencers that I have seen are there, and some brand executives, and some American Express preferred people, too. At the entrance to the party, photographers clamor to get shots of J.R. and GiGi meeting for the first time, holding a basketball that says Maybelline on it. Then Victor Cruz, the football player, poses with them. Then the woman who started Made, who brought all of these people together. They stand in a row, reaching into the center, hands on the Maybelline basketball, label out.
The drinks are free again (I order a Maybellini). On the street below, Lexuses pull up to building and influencers head to the elevator to rise to the top. This is the penthouse, high above the Meatpacking District. All of Manhattan’s skyline is outside the windows, but inside a DJ who I am told I should know about plays 90s alternative classics over break beats, and the crowd begins to dance. Cameramen weave through and take pictures of those who deserve to have their picture taken, and everything starts all over again. It’s hard to be cynical. It’s hard to be anything but grateful for the chance to see it. See what? It doesn’t matter.
At my first-ever penthouse party, during my first (and probably last) Fashion Week, I feel what I believe the whole enterprise is designed to make one feel. How could anything matter more than this? How could anybody not love Maybelline when Maybelline lets you drink for free? Why do morons insist on shoving their arms into their sleeves? How would I look with a septum piercing? Is Miss J. still here? Is that actually Lorde?
Finally, the most crucial question: How fucking terrible will it feel when I have to return to the world below?