New York City and fashion go hand in foot like Sex in the City and Manolo Blahniks. Even as a teenager I knew this – especially because I went to the mecca of fashion, the High School of Art and Design. My first day of school I robbed a huge silk fawn-colored blouse with a giant bow out of my mother’s closet. I threw that together with jeans and high heeled brown pumps. Only fashionable outfits from then on! I guess it worked, because when Betsy Johnson came in as the guest designer for our HS Fashion Show, she INSISTED I was first on the runway.
Calvin Klein graduated from A&D and our Fashion Club received free bolts of fabric and accessories from famous designers like Halston and Daniel Hechter. My afterschool hangout was Bloomingdales and we would smoke cigarettes while watching breakdancers in Central Park. My fashion education included dancing at Studio 54, and I modeled a few times at Danceteria and Xenons, as well as hung out hung out with a few celebs back in the day, (shhhhh don’t tell Mom!) Then after school, I moved to Milan where I worked as a stylist and traveled back and forth for over 13 years! So I know a thing or two about fashion in NYC!
The history of fashion dates back to as far back as 600 BCE when Miss Cleopatra took it to the nines with bold shapes, colors, make-up, hair & accessories. From the ancient world to Medieval Ages, through Renaissance splendor, Baroque, Belle Epoque and Jazz Styles up to the 20th century, fashion has come a long way. Problem was, it had to become functional with women in the workplace. We swang into the sixties, which included an era of great art and high fashion photos by Scavullo and models like Ziggy and BOOM we hit the designer decade of the 80’s.
New York City’s Garment District always had sweatshops and factories because NYC has always been a hotbed for cheap labor. Pre-Civil War, we made clothing for slaves working on Southern plantations. After the abolishment of slavery in 1827, we manufactured uniforms for American soldiers headed to War. With the invention of the sewing machine in 1850, NYC started to produce material big-time. Add this to the endless supply of young, working class immigrant women who knew how to sew and soon enough, garment production became the 4th largest business in NYC. By the close of the 19th century, the US produced 70% of women’s wear and 40% of menswear in NYC, but not no more.
What once was the Garment District is now proudly the Fashion District! FashionWeek in New York, sponsored by Mercedes Benz, runs Feb 7 – 14th. 3 years ago, all the runways and tents were smack in the middle of Bryant Park, but now they’re held in Lincoln Center. During the old days, The Bryant Park Hotel, (formerly the American Radiator Building) was the top of the crop. Scandalous stories happened here (starring Naomi Campbell for most of them) and the hotel’s neighbors complained that they were sick of being accosted for a full month (before, during AND after the shows) for two weeks every September AND February. So, Ladies and Gentleman ya gotta go UPTOWN to catch all the high fashion society.
For places to go and things to do in the fashion world, it’s all about being seen. Mandatory stops include The Gramercy Park Hotel rooftop bar and The Meatpacking District. Diane Von Furstenburg and other big name designers have changed the face of those cobblestones streets. Have a drink at the Standard Hotel’s Biergarten, and chat up models at The Boom Boom Room around the corner. There’s also The Gansevoort Hotel, made popular by The Kardashians. Other neighborhoods like Soho and the Lower East side become bumper to bumper taxi traffic on a simple Sunday night. Some fashion shows are run down there at The New Museum on The Bowery.
Fashion week in New York is NOT the time of year to be looking for sales or discount shopping but on my fashion tour I always make a stop at MOOD Fabrics on 39th St. Two full warehouse-size floors with bolts of fabric as far as the eye can see. This is the place where Project Runway sends their competitors to shop. The shop closes for 1 hour on Thursdays when they’re filming with Judge Tim Gunn.
I can tell you that the fashion trends for 2013 are bold colors and beautiful prints and the permanently proven New York classic BLACK & WHITE. From Paris to Milan, arriving in New York this February is the new trend of laser-printed fabrics. Designers can now take whatever images they dream up and transfer them directly to fabric!
Stylists can make or break any trend and thats why they sit front row at shows like Donna Karan and Alexander Wang. So although I might hang out at a party or two, it’s difficult to get hot tickets for FashionWeek. But you have to know where you came from if you know where you’re going!
By Kristin Singleton