“Every year, the women of New York leave the past behind and look forward to the future. This is known as New York Fashion Week.” – Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City Movie.
Since most of us have significantly less fashion connections than Carrie Bradshaw, arguably one of the greatest female television characters in history, we are forced to consider the more civilian alternatives. This is presented to us in the form of Couture Fashion Week, an hour long show in the Crowne Plaza Hotel ballroom.
Couture Fashion Week is a small runway event in Manhattan that runs concurrently to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. It shows off the collections of smaller designers, rather than big ready-to-wear designer names.
As an exchange student from New Zealand, I was utterly enthralled at the opportunity to witness an illustrious New York fashion show, just blocks away from where Monique Lhuillier was sending her pieces down the catwalk. Imagine, a runway show in the heart of the city that houses Moods fabric store, Parsons School of Design, and both of Christy Turlington’s legs. Attending a New York City fashion show would surely be on a whole new level to the already high quality New Zealand Fashion Week. Unfortunately, my couture fashion week experience left me unable to take Carrie’s advice of reconsidering my views on the past and present, as I ended up paying $45 for the opportunity to laugh at clothing my five-year-old cousin could have made.
The potential at the beginning of event created a façade of legitimate fashion. Upon our arrival in the Crowne Plaza, we were swept past various mannequins displaying decadent couture dresses, ex-models selling Chanel inspired paintings and stressed event managers in flowing black outfits. The ballroom was decorated with luxurious chandeliers, with a violet lit runway snaking through rows of chairs. We were ushered to our seats, and sat down to marvel at a stick thin model in a stunning black evening dress posing with notable guests for photographs. It seemed as though the show had everything; a group of grumpy musicians in the front row who we suspected to be of C-grade fame, Blair Waldorf wannabes, and sparkly blazers galore. Instagram was the social media platform of choice; girls wasted no time letting their online acquaintances know their current whereabouts. The air was filled with fashion related chatter and Chanel No. 5. We were ready.
After an unprofessional 20 minute delay, the first model pouted and stepped up to the violet path. My mouth opened. Questions flowed through my mind; how did the designer think this was elegant? Why do the seams not meet at the back? Can that monstrosity of a print even be defined as fabric? The hideous non-fabric was the focus of the collection, and was woven through the badly tailored pieces like an unwanted metaphor. The clothes certainly weren’t couture, they were streetwear tops shown with $10 leggings from Target. The audience members who had paid $200 for a front row seat were either in a state of utter despair or were uncontrollably giggling.
Model after model came out showing off increasingly hideous and badly fitted outfits; they didn’t look too impressed with what they were wearing either. The finale walk gained a very half-hearted clap from the audience. We sat back, smirking at our companions and hoping that the next designer would provide us with something that would make our ticket prices worth it.
The collection put together by the second designer was even worse. The metaphorically woven fabric of choice was white with a hideous blue sea-creature design. More smirking occurred as the models walked out, and the section ended with another unimpressed clap. A semi redeeming performance by a beautiful jazz singer occurred between the second and third designers; we were provided with a small amount of heart-warming magic when she sung ‘New York, New York’.
The third designer was thankfully slightly better; her evening wear looks were certainly closer to couture than badly made streetwear. However, the lack of opaque fabric around the chest region was slightly problematic. No good fashion show attendee is adverse to an occasional boob flash, but an entire collection with only netting around the upper torso is a little too far. The way the dresses fell also resembled fashionable maternity wear; further illustrating the fact that none of the couture fashion week designers really understood the concept of flattering the female figure.
We left the show feeling underwhelmed to say the least. I felt as though I had let Carrie Bradshaw down by settling for what I had believed to be an adequate alternative to the glamourous invite-only events.
If you’re a female with a passion for Instagram-centric fashion, just sell your soul to sneak into a Mercedes Benz Fashion Week show. Don’t subject yourself and your wallet to the sheer embarrassment of so called ‘couture’, unless you have a thing for mismatched seams and clothes that make size zero models look like the sea creatures on their blouses.