Twice a year, Manhattan’s streets are flooded with high heels, red lips, and designer clothing as the world’s fashion community descends upon the city for New York Fashion Week.
The week-long event, officially called Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (nod to sponsors), runs from February 9 to 16 and will feature presentations by some of the world’s most famous fashion designers of their Fall/Winter 2012 collections. The runway shows are invitation-only, with most seats reserved for press, buyers, and friends of the designer. The after-parties are equally exclusive, with tight guest lists and strict door policies.
But although it’s a mostly closed event, it is possible for New York visitors and residents to get in on the action. Here are six ways to “crash” Fashion Week from outside the industry.
1. Park yourself at Lincoln Center. Since 2010, the hub of New York Fashion Week has been Lincoln Center, after the organizers abandoned the traditional tents at Bryant Park. Throughout Fashion Week, the plaza outside the center is a flurry of activity, with a constant stream of people entering and exiting while paparazzi fight for photos of celebrities and socialites. Bundle up, grab a spot, and feel the energy.
2. Check out Fashion Week’s other venues. Milk Studios, in Chelsea, is the unofficial second main venue of Fashion Week, hosting shows for designers like Peter Som and Cushnie et Ochs throughout the week. Other designers choose to hold their shows at more off-beat (and open) locations. Victoria Beckham, for instance, will be showing her latest line at the New York Public Library, while the 3.1 Phillip Lim show will be held on the Highline. A full schedule, with locations, is available from NYMag.com.
3. Visit the FIT Museum’s new exhibit. The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology will host the first-ever exhibition celebrating the work of the Council for American Fashion Designers from February 10 to April 20. Titled Impact: Fifty Years of the CFDA, the exhibit will feature more than 100 garments from the council’s most impactful designers, including Diane von Furstenberg, Oscar de la Renta, Halston, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, and other fashion heavy-hitters. Admission to the museum is free.
4. Explore the Garment District. The Garment District, located right smack in midtown, is the historic center of New York’s fashion industry. A daytime stroll will find you in the midst of truck deliveries, rolling clothing racks, and anxious interns running errands, and the energy multiplies during Fashion Week. Stay alert, and you may even recognize a familiar face; I spotted designer Anna Sui during a recent visit.
5. Reserve a room at a stylish hotel. It used to be that New York’s most fashionable nightlife was centered around the Meatpacking District, but not any more. This season, Fashion Week’s notorious after-parties will be held in venues across Manhattan, and many of the most stylish hotspots are hidden in hotels. While reserving a room won’t guarantee entrance to the events, it might certainly help. Start with the Ace Hotel, the Hotel Gansevoort, the Gramercy Park Hotel, the brand new Dream Downtown Hotel, and the always risque Standard Hotel.
6. Watch on Facebook. The democratization of fashion continues on Facebook, where people around the world can snag front row seats to shows from designers like Michael Kors, Betsey Johnson, Narciso Rodriguez, Jill Stuart, and BCBGMAXAZRIA. Sure, it’s by live video stream, but until you’re a famous fashion blogger, it’ll have to do.