Fashion Month, Demystified – New York Times

Vanessa Friedman, the fashion director of The New York Times, will personally attend approximately 150 shows in New York and Europe. She has been covering Fashion Week for nearly 20 years, and tends to wear the same several dresses, stay at the same hotels and consume the same diet of coffee, candy, bread, the occasional green juice — and Champagne.

But routine allows for focus. “When I’m actually sitting in a show, I am thinking, first, ‘What is this designer actually saying about female identity now?’ ” Ms. Friedman said. “Is it a good idea? If it is not a good idea, why is it not a good idea? And how does that relate to the context of the brand? Does it make sense in the continuation of their heritage and their history? Where they have gone before? And what else is going on in the general fashion scene? Is it part of a trend? If it is part of a trend, what is the trend, and why is it important?”

Reporters typically log 12-hour days, explained Matthew Schneier, a Styles reporter — not counting the parties.

“There’s an unwritten law of Fashion Week that any two shows scheduled back-to-back must be at the farthest possible distance from each other and be scheduled at a time to maximize traffic getting between them,” Mr. Schneier said. “So, a good portion of time is spent in the back of a car, a cab or on the subway, trying to make sense of what you’ve just seen and get down enough sponsor-provided bottled water, protein bars and bodega trail mix to constitute a meal.”

Beyond the runway, the story continues inside the extravagant, invite-only afterparties, explained Denny Lee, a Styles editor. “A lot of them feel like they are P.R.-driven, but there are some that are absolutely lots of fun,” Mr. Lee said. “People just sort of want to let their hair down and have a good time, and you have this professional partying class that comes into New York City and just keeps things going.”

Styles and T work closely to coordinate coverage, and put out a joint newsletter, Open Thread. For Fashion Month, T’s coverage will center on showcasing beautiful images from the events, continually updated on its site, providing readers a way to shop for runway looks, and offering a peek into the world of the creators, Ms. Wilkinson explained.

“We like to do features around the little-known things about creative people — the little moments that aren’t captured, like someone’s strange obsession or weird collection or an unseen room, and giving a fresh perspective on creative people,” she said.

For Ms. Friedman, Fashion Month is like a global tour of modern art galleries.

“Often times you see things that are boring, or derivative, or overly conceptual,” she said. “But when you see something that is really great, that makes you think about your subject in a different way; you forget about everything else and get really excited. That happens each season, and you don’t know when it is going to happen — and that’s what makes it worthwhile.”

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