5 people you'll meet at (every) fashion week
Words: Cayleigh Bright | Illustrations: Muti
There’s a lot to love about fashion week – getting inspiration from some of the country’s most talented designers, meeting interesting people, meeting models, and of course the potential for some pretty good gifts, or at least free drinks. But then there’s seeing grown-ass adults playing a game of musical chairs for a spot in the front row, the queues for bars and bathrooms alike, the time someone pretends to not know you even though you’ve met before, then sees you again four times and can’t pretend not to know you anymore and it’s awkward, and of course someone murmuring “fashionably late” as you wait in the dark for a show to start, 45-minutes-to-an-hour late. But for all that uncertainty, there are some things that you can rely on, and among those things are the people you’ll always meet at fashion week. Clichés? Yes. Very real? Also yes.
The one trying to sell you something
How to spot them: Sharklike grin and hungry eyes; USB drive holding press releases or a mixtape.
What you need to know: The “something” in question is probably not an actual “thing” – for example, no-one is trying to sell you their clothes, because the actual designers are actually working (see below). But there are PR people trying to get you to place a story about their brands, some guy convinced that you should give him an internship/be his intern, someone else who’s sure that she has a job for you that doesn’t pay but will be great exposure, and, inevitably, someone who wants you to follow them on SoundCloud and, as I recall from one heady S/S show, an aspiring rapper who wants you to listen to his mixtape, come to his show, review his (soon-to-be-released) album and shoot a lookbook of him wearing clothes by a French designer who he’ll shame you for not having heard of.
Not to be confused with: The one who’s there for the free stuff.
How to survive this one: Remember that technically, they’re trying to give you things as well as take them. Graciously accept the mixtape, follow the young designer on Instagram, and take the PR person’s details. At best, you’ll get a free stay in a soon-to-be-launched hotel or discover the next big thing in electro-pop meets Southern hip-hop. At worst, you can hit unfollow, or erase your entire identity to avoid future emails. It’ll be fine.
The one who's there for free stuff
How to spot them: They’re rifling through their goodie bags and asking the fresh-out-of-rehab editor if he’ll be needing his drinks ticket.
What you need to know: They’re not here to make friends. They’re just here for the free stuff.
Not to be confused with: Don’t worry about that just yet – once they’ve got their free stuff, if they get the free stuff that they desired, they could shapeshift into any of the other people you meet at fashion week. They also could sling those goodie bags over their arms and head straight home, but it’s not likely if they’re on the guestlist for the after party.
How to survive this one: Don’t try to sell them anything. Don’t try to take their picture. Don’t try to make them work. Don’t try to convince them that they’re into it. Hold on to your drinks tickets.
The one who wants to be photographed
How to spot them: Well, how couldn’t you? He’s in a dashiki, a blazer with shoulder pads and a tan pair of sneakers from whichever brand is currently making a comeback. She’s wearing a choker (part fashion essential, part lifestyle piece), a bandage dress, sleeveless blazer, and footwear that reminds you of Baby Spice's heyday. And they’re pacing. Just pacing endlessly, up and down the most visible stretch of ground in the venue.
What you need to know: It’s not that they’re not well-dressed. The trends they’re wearing now are probably the ones you’ll be seeing in stores in three to four seasons’ time, so don’t knock 'em. But go ahead and roll your eyes at how very self-absorbed they are.
Not to be confused with: Look, this person is probably here for free stuff and still into it and trying to sell you something (did you know that their blog just had a re-design? You should check it out!) but those concerns are all secondary so don’t worry about it; just take the photo.
How to survive this one: Find a solid background and tell them to stand against it. Make sure that the light is behind you. Tell them to cross one foot in front of the other and watch them do the pose that they’ve practiced instead. Photograph them using whatever you have at hand. Let them spell their name for you. Nod when they ask you to link to their blog.
The one who's actually working
How to spot them: Glassy expression. 9% battery. Lanyards that say “Press”, “Media”, or “Crew”. An unmatched disdain for your The Devil Wears Prada references.
What you need to know: You know how fashion week’s not actually a full week, and it seems to just whizz by in a flurry of beautiful fabrics, flashing cameras and bubbles? Well, they don’t. If asked to guess how long they’d been in the venue, they’d probably go with plus-minus two weeks, and, like Tom Hanks stuck in an airport terminal, they’re figuring out how to go on with their lives without any real certainty that they’ll ever see their families again. Like Tom Hanks trapped on a desert island, they’re pretty okay with the fact that inanimate objects are their friends now, so don’t question their attachment to their cameras and cellphones, and don’t begrudge them that handbag with a face on it.
Not to be confused with: The one who’s still into it. Not that you would – there’s not a single thing about this person that suggests that they’re having a good time. I just mention this so that you don’t turn to the social media manager with a stain on her shirt who’s subsisting on soggy canapés for the fourth day in a row and has just crawled under a table to plug in an iPhone with a newly-cracked screen in order to tweet an inane slogan condensed into an ill-conceived hashtag and say “Your job must be so much fun!”.
How to survive this one: Does she need to charge her phone? Hand over your portable charger. She needs it more than you do. Is she thirsty? Hand over your water bottle. Hand over your jacket. Your lip balm. Boyfriend. Passwords. A kidney.
The one who's still into it
How to spot them: Probably standing alongside a very jaded editor or stylist, this is the new recruit to the world of fashion, and the contrast between the two of them couldn’t be more noticeable. She’s pointedly showing her lanyard to barmen and security alike, convinced that she’s about to be thrown out of the media lounge at any moment.
What you need to know: Bless her sweet, not-yet-encased-in-a-carapace of-cynicism heart! This intern, assistant, blogger or plus-one is sipping her first glass of free sparkling wine and soaking up the atmosphere of excitement, which she does not recognise as tainted with the odour of panic and disillusionment.
Not to be confused with: The one who’s there for the free stuff. The intern’s not rifling per se, she’s just amazed at the generosity of the person who put a whole box of Tic Tacs and a magazine from two months ago on her seat.
How to survive this one: If you’re reading this, you’re one of them, aren’t you? Forget everything that you’ve just read. Have a wonderful time at fashion week! See you next year!