In New York City, there is only one religious holiday.
It lasts for an entire week, the food is nonexistent, and the only rule is that you dress for the occasion. During the seven days of Fashion Week each year, New York is thrown into a near frenzy as designers and models descend on the city, turning the heads of mere mortals on runways and subways alike. But it’s not just what happens in front of the cameras that ignites the city’s passion for fashion; from putting up the tents to hair and makeup, Fashion Week brings with it a frenetic energy that no other event can match.
Fashion Week doesn’t just unload the world’s tallest, thinnest, and most beautiful upon New York’s unsuspecting masses, it packs an additional 223,000 people onto the Little Island That Could every year. It’s not just the population that spikes— the businesses around the tents reap the benefits from the droves of people who descend on the city to gawk at glamazons. Visitors to the twice-annual event provide an estimated $233 million boost to New York’s economy in the period of time surrounding each show, including over $7 million in retail spending. Businesses around Lincoln Center, where the event has been housed for the past two years since leaving its 16-year home in Bryant Park, have felt the impact of the haute hordes, whose designer wallets shelled out nearly $21 million in the neighborhood last February alone.
While looking as good as your fellow attendees certainly necessitates a little extra cash, money is not your ticket inside Fashion Week. The event may seem like an impenetrable fortress for those without Rachel Zoe on speed dial, but there is still hope. For budding fashionistas who want a hand in the fun, Fashion’s Night Out provides both swag and solace.
The one way you’re certain to get turned away is if you try to sneak past the 70-plus security guards on hand at Lincoln Center throughout the week’s shows. Citadel Security Agency, who have provided their services for nearly 50 seasons of shows, are not shy about their no means no policy. Says David Yorio, Citadel’s SVP of Business Development, “Non-invited guests are constantly trying to find ways into the shows. Through the years we’ve caught people sneaking under tents, duplicating credentials, impersonating celebrities, and just plain bum rushing the door. At times it’s comical. What crashers don’t realize is the level of coordination between our security team, IMG, and the PR firms in regards to letting invited guests in.”
But even if you can prove you’re @condeelevator, or have the right badge on hand, there’s no guarantee you’ll be invited to stay. “Over the past two years we’ve seen an increase in the use of Twitter, Facebook and other Internet sources in attempts to get into the shows,” says Yorio. “Yesterday, via a Craigslist interaction and a set-up meet, we caught a no-longer credentialed member of the media attempting to sell a show ticket to one of our security personnel for $200.”
For those who have been cast into fashion exile by the powers that be, there are still a few beacons of hope. The post-show events around the city, from PETA’s star-studded and cruelty-free fête, to Alexander Wang’s rumored carnival-themed party (complete with cotton candy and rides), provide a light at the end of the tunnel for those sly enough to know the back end of every event venue in town. And for the fan who wants to have some Fashion Week fun that doesn’t end in the back of a police car, Fashion Week’s unsung heroes, the crew members who make the magic happen, put on their own show, dubbed “House of Paul,” showcasing the city’s finest in found fashions.