Walking through the revolving doors was like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia
I had dreamed of this day since I was a little girl. What the dresses will look like, how I would be feeling, who will be there. My day had finally arrived, I was sitting front row at a fashion show in New York City.
Fashion week is held every February and September in New York City and is one of four major fashion weeks around the world. (The others are in Paris, London and Milan). New York is synonymous with fashion, but it wasn’t always this way. America had to fight for a spot in the fashion limelight against the European heavy weights. But during the Second World War, with travel being restricted, Fashion Week was able to successfully place American designers in the spotlight and the United States is now the home to some of the world’s top designers.
The show was being held inside the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue. Walking through the revolving doors was like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia. A man in a dark suit welcomed us as we assended the pure marble staircase. He almost appeared as a shadow as everything else was pure white with accents of gold. Everything glistened and sparkled.
“Good evening ladies” he said as he bowed his head.
I felt like royalty.
We walk past the bar that was rich mahogany in colour, a pianist was playing La Vie en Rose in the corner, very classy, very sophisticated. I felt important just being in this hotel. We found the elevator and took it to the third floor. When the door to the elevator opened I felt as if I was in a movie. There were two girls standing at the entrance greeting us. I showed one of them our tickets.
“Front row, right this way” she said, leading us into the Grand Ballroom.
The Grand Ballroom is a circular room with high ceilings and the largest chandelier I have ever seen suspended from the centre. On the upper levels around the sides of the room were two tiers of what appeared to be box seats. They reminded me of balconies on a high-class condo complex.
“I wonder what those are for?” I thought out loud.
“They seat tables of eight.” the women beside me, answered.
“For when they have charity events and weddings here, people sit up there as well.”
“Really? People have weddings here?” I asked trying to picture the extravagance of it.
“Oh yes” the woman tells me.
“And that chandelier drops down for the dancing.”
My thoughts start to race through people I know who could get married here, this is something I would like to see. I start to imagine all the women in long elegant dresses and white gloves waltzing with men in tuxedos under the glistening crystal masterpiece, it is all very enchanting.
“And you?” the women asks me.
As I have been day dreaming she has told me that she is from Connecticut and comes to all of the fashion shows during fashion week.
“Oh, this is my first.” I smile a little embarrassed.
“Oh darling, you will love it.” she says tapping my arm.
In the middle of this exquisite ballroom is a long, black catwalk that comes out one wall and down to the hornets’ nest of photographers, then turns and continues in a ‘U’ shape back up to the other wall. We are seated right by the entrance where the models come out and we are in fact front row. I was excited before the show even began. The music started and the hair on my arm stood straight up, I could not believe where I was.
Everything was just like it was on Fashion Television, the models walking to the music, stopping and posing for the cameras and then their moment vanished and the next model appeared for her flash down the runway.
We were lucky enough to get to see two designers’ collections.
The first was Kristin Zimmermann from Germany with her Black and White collection. All of the white models were dressed in black and all of the black models were dressed in white, as Michael Jackson’s Black or White guided them down the catwalk.
The second designer was Haya Al Houti from Kuwait; her designs were very elegant with a great deal of detailed bead work that shimmered in the light. She had traditional Kuwait music to animate her crew of models.
The consistent pulse of photographer’s flashes added it’s own beat to rythem of the evening. I was enthralled with every pulse, every beat, every step. I could not get enough of it, amazed by the talent. The ability to sit down with a pencil and a blank piece of paper and be able to create such artwork. Artwork that was walking right past me, it was almost unbelievable. The end of the show came far too soon.
“What did you think?” the woman from Connecticut asked me.
“I want to see more. I loved it. It was amazing.”
I sounded like a child who had just seen Disney World for the first time.
The women laughed and smiled at me as she put on her Chanel coat. Everyone was getting up from their seats, collecting their things and leaving. I was not ready to go. I remained seated staring at the stages, seeing the ghosts of the models who had just strutted down. The woman looked down at me and said,
“Oh honey, you’re hooked, fashion is addictive.”
She was right; I was hooked, addicted to the glamour, talent and theatrics of it.
That’s the thing about life, sometimes you need to experience the drama of it all, front row.