NYFW Volunteer Confessions


It’s that time of the year again. The week where a twenty minute show reveals what designers demand we’ll be wearing six months from now. Demand might be a strong word. I’m always one for being slightly dramatic. But what we observe on the runway of the February shows ultimately is the essence of what we’ll be wearing for the autumn season transitioning into winter of this year. And all the faux fur to go with it. Might be real on the runway, but personally I’m going to stick with the faux. For it’s what my bank account and ethnical standards asks of me. These couple of minutes is not only where designers showcase the entirety of their creative souls and everything they've ever worked for, but it is also the week where professional bloggers frolic the New York City streets waiting for a yellow taxi to pass by in the exact moment of their desired action shot. And for those that haven’t attained that level of perceived fashion blogger status take advantage of the week convincing their followers that they've made it, or at least made it to some pretty cool parties. Listen, fake it until you make it.

Telling folks at home, or even someone just simply not related to the fashion industry, that you’re involved with New York Fashion Week, which in other words means, em, volunteering (#glam), they always seem subtly impressed and instantly assume that you are in your best, most eccentric, colorful fashion, deep black, beetle-eyed shades, networking backstage with designers, models and professional bloggers, drinking fancy champagne and grazing, but not eating, the canapés and hors d’oeuvres. 




It’s 4am on a Saturday morning and that awful iPhone alarm is plaguing me after what I wouldn’t exactly call beauty sleep. You know when you’re so aware with how early you need to get up that you barely sleep at all? I almost think it’s just that fear of sleeping through it. Although I didn’t exactly help myself by staying up watching endless YouTube content until midnight when I promised myself 9:30pm at the VERY latest. Funny how that happens… 

Volunteering at NYFW was something I was crazy excited about come freshman year. But of course I was, why wouldn't I be? A little freshman beginning fashion college, being a fashion student, making fashion friends, taking fashion classes and all that fashion jazz. Sue me, I was excited. Fashion Week sign-ups came about and waiting in those crazy lines was a necessity that seemed totally worth it. Eliminating the fact or even the thought that the big shows were for the professionals, we thought yes, we killing it. Killing it at the Chanel, Gucci and Michael Kors shows - cause at this point were the only designers we knew and a Michael Kors handbag was hot and you were depicted as fashion if you had one. Needless to say, I waited, and battled through an endless auditorium talk on what not to wear (anything fashionable). Then, around 7am on Sunday morning arrives and I glare at the -17° celsius on my phone. Feck that, back to sleep. Def not worth it. You don’t leave the house in -17° celsius? YOU JUST DON’T DO IT! It was also Valentine’s Day and my single-ass self at the time wanted some fluffy, love-heart shaped pancakes with an indulgence of sorrow-laden syrup. Look, #priorities. 

This year, finally (as a senior) I decided to get my lazy girl act together and volunteer. Basically because it was my last chance to do it, which to be honest I was really only doing for my résumé. Doing what I was told, I embraced the all-black dress code in fear of being sent home after the pain of rising out of bed that early. White face, tired eyes, and chapped lips, the morning didn’t begin so glamorous as pressing snooze on my alarm deemed more important than doing my makeup (always).

When I arrived, ten minutes late (duh), fashionably late though, obviously… I checked in to the Dan Liu show and hesitantly left my handbag around with the others. Pretending like I knew where I was going and what I was doing I began steaming the clothes with the help of the other volunteers there to gain the same experience that I was. Of course, there was too many of us and not enough steamers so that didn’t last long. Bored, myself and a few others went to help ourselves to the disappointing but promised breakfast range of brioche egg muffin things that I’m still trying to figure out if it was them that made me sick. After wandering around there for a while, each one of us (that hadn’t left already) were assigned models that we’ll be dressing for the show, each with two outfit changes, what’s up Mariah!? Waiting for our assigned models to finish with hair and makeup, the critical staple cliques of FIT students formed. Perching ourselves on the itchy carpet ground, we chatted for over an hour. Having initiative was very much lacking.

Before the show started, we met our models and helped them change into the first assigned look of the designer, Dan Liu. Stripping a half-naked girl and being her personal photographer to her iPhone was what I soon understood was my only role here. From Instagram, New York Fashion Week demonstrates a perfect rush of all things fashion, when in reality what you observe is the surface of stress and sweat that goes into merely a twenty minute show. Volunteering at NYFW is something I'm glad I did, to say I did it. Not at all #glam or scarcely exciting, but simply a barefaced, boringly dressed fly on the wall. You do it once, and that's enough. The excitement in my opinion is overrated. But having said that, I'm not the one sitting front row of anything extraordinary.