New York Fashion Week 2024: What It’s Like When You’re Not Famous


Photography by Getty Images

From Anna Wintour sightings to backstage secrets, here’s a look at the reality of fashion week, from a plebeian’s perspective.

It’s my third time attending fashion week, and I still feel like an outsider. Don’t get me wrong — experiencing New York Fashion Week 2024 is one of the greatest privileges and joys of my job. But doing so, for me, comes with an unshakeable sense of imposter syndrome. So, I decided to document it.

Behold: A truthful account of what this iconic days-long event is actually like when you’re just a regular person.

The outfits may not slay

I love Cardi B’s dedication to feathered frocks and Kylie Jenner’s rotation of form-fitting ’fits, but it could never be me. Every day, I’m hauling a computer bag instead of a dainty Sandy Liang purse. I rotate between lightweight ballet flats and durable Doc Martens, never once putting to use the vintage high-heeled boots I determinedly crammed into my suitcase. I’m not sporting Scandi-girl blowouts; my hair is routinely pulled back in a trustee rotation of stretchy headbands.

Deep down, as an editor, I know I do have a place here. But in an environment filled with big wigs and glamorous nepo babies, it’s incredibly easy to feel insignificant. You have no choice but to wear it proudly! This brings me to my next point.

There are lists, lines and onlookers everywhere

Every now and again, you need to be humbled by the universe. And there’s nothing quite like the sobering sensation of walking into a show and seeing the surrounding street-style photographers slowly lower their lenses and avert their eyes. Or the invisible (but very real) food chain ranking of being put in the “standing” section as opposed to having a seat.

More than once, I find myself reaching the front of the line, hoping to a higher power that I am in fact on the list. Each time I’m let through, I feel like I tricked the system.

Sometimes, before the shows start, there are hors d’oeuvres being offered. It might not be à la mode to indulge, but I don’t care. I am nothing if not a lover of little treats. Puffy braided breadsticks? Flavoured sparkling water? Don’t mind if I do!

The Anna Wintour effect is real

Somehow, seeing Anna Wintour throughout the week makes everything feel more momentous. I watch the infamous editor casually stroll into each venue — always sporting a flowy dress, a long trench and her signature perfect bob — and then slip out a back door as soon as the designer takes a bow.

IRL, I am stunned by the severe precision of her chin-length hair. “I heard she gets it trimmed every week so it always looks the exact same,” an editor tells me at the Proenza Schouler show. God, I love dramatic fashion lore.

Everyone is faking it ’til they make it

“Give us more!” photographers instruct an anonymous celebrity before the Coach show begins. The Upper East Side venue is luxurious, with a grand gilded staircase where said celeb is posing. He obeys, kicking up his legs and leaning his head back. My attention is briefly turned to Anna Wintour, who is walking up the other side of the stairs. I suddenly hear a thump, and turn back to see said celebrity has fallen down the steps (!) of this statement entryway. (Serving is dangerous work.)

To the crowd’s delight, he shakes it off and keeps posing. Wintour, now at the top of the spiral staircase, stops and turn to get a glimpse of this mishap. She smiles. This series of events, I realize, encapsulates the beauty of fashion week. You can make a fool of yourself in one moment, and go back to looking like you own the place the next. At New York Fashion Week 2024, it’s all in the mindset, honey.

There’s an art to approaching celebrities

A focus of my job here is trying to get famous people to talk to me. (Journalism!) And a big part of that is getting repeatedly rejected — or worse, being yelled at by an impossibly chic publicist. But just know, for every A-lister who says no, an enthusiastic It girl rendez-vous is right around the corner.

At the Michael Kors show, I see Katie Holmes walk in. She’s willowy and glowy and has kind eyes. I suddenly feel slightly inept in my stretchy slacks, but no matter. I start to ask her something and am swiftly shot down. “No questions,” a headset-wearing publicist politely says, ushering an apologetic-looking Holmes away. I guess we’ll never get the backstory on that look. Well played, Kate-o!

Then, I see the glamorous Gabrielle Union and ask her for her favourite fashion tip. “Not to take fashion tips,” she says, cool as a cucumber. Will I recover from posing such a dumb question? Watch this space. Blake Lively walks in, and everyone is clamouring for a glimpse of her. Wearing a giraffe-print set, she looks just as stunning as you’d imagine.

Still riding that wave, I spot Rachel Zegler, who is a total delight and chats with me about her Valentine’s Day plans. I want to stop everything and ask her to hangout. But alas — duty calls!

Beware of dehydrated skin

At one high-profile presentation, I find my seat just before the show begins. While holding my phone up to videotape the models, I notice something truly horrendous. A cardinal sin to the ultra-dewy in-crowd of New York City fashionistas: dry hands!

Had I been so preoccupied with capturing content and squeezing on sanitizer that I completely neglected moisturizer? I can sense my seat-mates’ eyes on my shrivelled-looking paws — but there’s nothing I can do now. As soon as the show ends, I fish for the Vaseline on a Stick (nothing but the best) in my bag. Note to self: always hydrate your skin before entering a star-studded venue.

Appreciate the work that goes into it all

Amid all the adrenaline, it can be easy to forget the artistry at the root of the event. Earlier that week, I’d read about the steep expenses of being a designer in the city. It can reportedly cost a up to $500,000 for one NFYW runway (and they’re often put on twice a year!). This comes up at one show when I’m seated next to two other Canadian editors. We begin to lament the loss of Toronto Fashion Week. It’s been almost 10 years since the fashion event was cancelled, due to lack of funding.

What does this loss say about the way we value fashion, or any creative industry, for that matter? Canadian-born success stories, like Tanya Taylor, have notably set up shop in NYC to make it in the cut-throat business. Moving through the week, this context makes me appreciate the intention of each show even more.

As a Member of the Press, I get backstage access for some presentations. I see how celebrity nail artist Gina Edwards crafts custom talons using Kiss press-ons for Prabal Gurung and Pat Bo. Behind the scenes at LaQuan Smith and Christian Siriano, I witness Unilever Stylist Lacy Redway transform regular buns into gold-speckled updos and pencil-adorned creations. Even the smallest details have teams of professionals working to perfect them.

Kiss nails New York fashion week 2024
Photography courtesy of KISS

My takeaways

By the end of my time at New York Fashion Week 2024, I’ve attended 16 shows and backstages, and I am slightly disoriented. Poetically, the weather seems to be going rogue, too. “Advisory for your flight,” an ominous subject line from Air Canada pops up in my inbox the day before my departure. There’s a storm coming, the email teases, and your flight might be cancelled. At this point, I’m functioning on very little sleep and running out of socks. “Please, no,” I pray.

Luckily, it works out. As I settle into my seat on the scheduled plane late at night, I am struck with a feeling of lingering excitement. All in all, I am coming away from the week a little tougher — celebrity snubs will do that to you — a lot more inspired, and much less concerned about what others think.

But next time: double up on the moisturizer.

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