6 ways to crash New York Fashion Week

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.

[Flickr images via Art Comments, Paul Lowry and Jimmy Baikovicius, other image via Fashion Institute of Technology]

Hotels to see-and-be-seen during 2010 Fashion Weeks

Fall means fashion – it’s the time of year when designers debut their latest creations for the coming year and vy for a cover shot on the world’s most fashionable magazines. From New York to Paris, Fashion Week is meant to prove one important point: you are what you wear.

While some hotels are contributing to the fashion scene this year, others are hosting a meeting spot for those who want to see-and-be-seen off the catwalk.

New York Fashion Week, Sept. 9-16: New York and fashion go hand-in-hand. The Bryant Park Hotel is undoubtedly the grand dame of fashion week hotels, but new hotels like Fashion26 and Andaz 5th Avenue have recently hit the scene, offering another option for travelers. Fifth Avenue itself has always been renowned as a major shopping mecca, but if you look closely you might even get a few fashion tips from the hotel staff. At the Andaz 5th Avenue, women wear figure-flattering black wrap tops, paired with either skinny black pants or pencil skirts, and Tumi side bags, while men wear sleek collared shirts and suit jackets that have extra pockets. Women’s accessories are all statement pieces; either a striking crystal drop necklace and clear resin watch or a silver snake cuff and clear hoop earrings.

London Fashion Week: Sept. 17-22: The Metropolitan is the place in London town to see and be seen off the runway, and it offers great opportunities for celebrity-watching in posh Mayfair. It’s likely you’ll be famished after a day of watching models strut their stuff down the runway, so take advantage of the hotel’s signature guilt-free version of the trad afternoon tea. Accompaniments are made using flour substitutes, low fat crème fraîche, and fresh fruit purées. If you’re feet need a little pampering after walking in your stilettos all day, check out the Metropolitan London COMO Shambhala Urban Escape, which offers a variety of spa packages.
Milan Fashion Week, Sept. 22-28: Few do fashion quite like Milan, but if you’re going to rock the house that Versace built, you better do it in style. The place to be in Milan during Fashion Week is along Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga, the place to stay: Park Hyatt Milan. The hotel offers stylish accommodations that combine authentic Italian finishes with sleek amenities and state-of-the-art technology. La Cupola, the lobby lounge in the heart of the hotel, is already famous among the Who’s Who as it overlooks the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.

Paris Fashion Week, Sept. 29-Oct. 7: Home to Chanel, Hermes, Dior, and Louis Vuitton, Paris is the epitome of all things fashion and decor. Whether you stay at the Plaza Athenee or along the Champs-Élysées, Paris Fashion Week will surely be seven days you’ll never forget. Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme was ranked fifth in Europe as the ‘World’s Best Hotel Service’ in 2009, the staff will make sure fashionistas have everything they need from sun-up to sun-down. Or take affection for textiles to the bedroom at Pavillon de la Reine, nestled in Paris’ fashionable Marais quarter, every room features sumptuous materials to create a rich and well-appointed, yet subtly refined look. This is, after all, Paris, so after you’ve checked in and organized your wardrobe, head out for a little shopping of your own.