New York Fashion Week has always been (and will continue to be) one of the most exciting weeks of the year for our industry. However, in the past 5 or so years, it’s really evolved in large part due to the influx of bloggers in attendance. Every year these girls (myself included) dress to the nines, and strut their stuff between shows. As a result, your feed is flooded with runway shots & fun group photos of girls having a blast with their fashion besties at some of the most exclusive events of the year.
I’m not saying that these girls are lying to you or that these photos are fake – because they’re probably not. I bet a bunch of these girls love every second of fashion week, from back to back shows, to long days without lunch to event after event after event. I think I’m the odd one here because I’ll be really honest – I’m not obsessed with Fashion Week.
Today I’m going to share an uncensored side of my recent NYFW experience, including the good, the bad & the ugly.
Before we get started, I want to say I’m not complaining – at all. I feel so incredibly honored and humbled to attend FW for the past few years. Even though I always wanted to (and planned on) working in fashion, I never thought my career would take me to a place that allowed me to attend, so 12, 16 and even 20 year old Courtney is still freaking out every time I get an invite. So please keep in mind that throughout this, I’m not at all complaining about the week.
There are some really good and even great parts about Fashion Week that I look forward to year after year, truthfully there may even be too many good parts to count. Out of all the highlights, my favorite part has to be the people. So many bloggers come from across the country (and globe) to see the shows and essentially network within our industry. I love getting to catch up with other bloggers or meet some in person for the first time. I have only a handful of blogger friends in general, and most of them don’t live in New York City, so FW is some of the only times I get to reconnect with them. Most of this happens at events (Like the ShopStyle social house) because there isn’t that much time to chat during the shows. I’m always so flattered (and surprised) when someone comes up to me to tell me they read my blog, it makes me feel less alone in this industry and proud of what I do.
Aside from the people, connecting with brands and giving a behind the scene looks to my readers has to be one of the reasons I really love NYFW. Honestly, anyone can stream shows online or follow a brand’s snap chat for an instant look at their collection. Or at the very least, you could read a roundup from your favorite magazine that tells you everything you need to know about the shows – this goes live as quickly as hours after the models strut their stuff. Since brands and websites are doing the job of reporting what went down on the runway, I think a bloggers job is to give a review with their own twist. I share the pieces I would wear with insight on how I would style them now, or later.
I’m never going to be the most high fashion girl out there, and I’m okay with that. I mix high & low pieces and see no shame in rewearing some of my favorites. As a result, fashion week isn’t ever going to be the perfect place for me, so I have to make it my own. This year I tried to bring a realistic side by attending shows that featured real women (instead of only models) of all shapes and sizes like the WWW show and the Macy’s Red Dress show, and skipping those with extremely expensive and exclusive pieces that my followers might not ever wear.
One thing I really dislike about NYFW is the false perception associated with it. When scrolling through instagram, every post looks like it’s pure perfection as if everyone’s day is going off seamlessly. For some people, this might be the case but for me it usually couldn’t be further from the truth – especially during Feb Fashion Week when it’s raining or snowing or a dang blizzard outside.
Less people travel during Feb because of the weather so my favorite fashion girls usually don’t come (sad face) making it a little harder to bare. The weather is one thing, but some days it feels like everything is just off. The best example of this is my Sunday fail from last weekend. I shared the story on Instagram, but incase you missed it here it is:
I got out of bed despite a bad case of food poisoning & freezing rain for the bloglovin’ event where I ran into @scoutfashion before heading to @emilymen‘s event. Then I skipped off to the Tracy Reese show (one of the only women of color designers at fw so I always go support). stared at 2, got there at 2:03 & waited in a mob outside in the freezing rain. At 2:20 half of the group was in (& 30 people had cut me – I get it, it’s cold but I was bare legged and didn’t cut a soul). I’m next, when I get cut off at the door – they say they’re at capacity and no one else can get in rn! Thinking, “cool I’ll be in in 5 min” I smile, wait, & think of AZ summers to fight through the fact that I can’t feel my toes. After 30 min of watching “VIPs” cut ahead of me, & listen to those behind me complain that they have “special invites”, are “Press”, or (believe it or not) are actually Tracy Reese LOL and need to get in RIGHT NOW, I left. It was 250 and I had a 3 show. I really wanted to share @tracy_reese with you (I love supporting black women and businesses) but I’m not “more important” than anyone else standing in line & wasn’t going to fight, lie or cut my way in. THEN I ran into @sassyredlipstick @wannabefashionblogger & a few other sf bloggers – they were a total ray of sunshine in the freezing rain. As I gained the feeling back in my legs, I met my bestie / assistant @kristinroa to snap this pic before running to @leannemarshallofficial. Last year, I sat front row. I’ve watched @projectrunway since season 1 (including hers) so supporting PR designers is so important to me! I also usually get my “runway shot” there and save it as the 1 photo I share on my Insta feed. Plus it’s the only show @kristinroa cared about and she’s been SAVING ME all week I so I really wanted her to see it! We got there at 305 (shows never start on time) but my seated ticket wouldn’t print, apparently someone had already printed it ? After trying to sort it out, they gave me a standing seat and set me to the back of the line, cool no big, I don’t mind waiting … 20ish min, a few shoves and some new line friends later, they cut us off – shows at capacity and we can’t get In. Cool lol! I had to shoot a few things before our next one so we did that, in the rain! Then ran into @danchiz @brightonkeller (so nice to meet you) & @natymichelle on the street before we decided to opt out of for the next shows. Fashion week can sure make you feel like you’re nothing. Between that and some of the sideways glances I’ve gotten from bloggers this year cause I’m not dripping in designers, it’s enough to make you want to call it quits! But instead of getting sad, we got pie so to me that’s winning ! Anyways, sharing this message, because perfection is just a false perception – and bad days don’t have to end bad, then can instead end with a meal with your best friend … and pie a la mode.
Sometimes a show list is perfectly curate stocked full VIPs and sometimes it’s just a big game of first come first serve. Having bloggers at fashion week has changed the game, for both the better and the worst and sometimes you get the short end of the stick (like I did), but other days you come out on top. This week can be a big mind game, that makes you never want to come out for it again. Literally, I would go to bed every night thankful for the opportunity to attend, but also kind of shaken from the ups and downs for the day. Each night I had the same thought – I don’t want to do this again tomorrow.
I’m not really in this industry for the parties, so staying out all night at the most exclusive after after party, or drinking at events isn’t really my thing. I also don’t look like, talk like or even dress like your average fashion blogger, so I think that works against me. Maybe all together I seem less “fun” because I’m there to work, but I try my best to have a blast and make new friends through out the process. As a result, I sometimes get treated less than at these events. Bloggers who I know, who I text and who I have considered friends will pretend they don’t know me or act differently around me when they’re with their “bigger blogger friends”. This year, a girl who has been to my house before, turned away and ignored me when I waived at her at an event (no joke) and I wish I could say that was the first time. I don’t know, it’s really weird to me, and the only word to use here is ugly. I never thought the blogging world would be full of whatever that is, but like everything else it exists. There were mean girls in high school, and at my corporate job, so naturally it exists in the blogging community too.
There isn’t one right answer to surviving fashion week, or getting through without feeling like crap about yourself but here are a few things that have worked for me.
Find real friends in the industry, friends that if you quit blogging tomorrow you would still have something to chat about. At the top of my list has always been Olivia, but she’s a mom now so naturally she had other priorities. Hanging out with gals like Lisadnyc, Lexiconofstyle and Cait of Howdoyouwearthat helped keep me smiling throughout the week despite the sideways glances I got from other gals. I also love what I call my “southern girls” CarrieBradshawLied, MyStyleDiaries, APinchofLovely & HauteOffTheRack who come for September FW.
Don’t wait for an invite! So many gals send me emails each year saying that they hope they’ll get invited to fashion week next year, and I always say that they have to be bold enough to ask! About 80% of my invites are for shows I request access to, not the other way around – and there’s no shame in that. I also get a lot of standing room tickets, which usually result in a seat as well.
If you can, BYOB – Bring your own bestie. For the second year in a row, my best friend turned employee Kristin has been able to come with me to Fashion Week. Not only does she eliminate an enormous amount of stress from me (and Paris) she also keeps me smiling. When things go bad, she’s there to help me laugh it off and when they go great, she’s there to experience it with me so ultimately it can do wonders for the week in general. Kristin won’t be with my in September (tear) and I already can’t imagine this week without her.
Toughen up and smile through it! Every year, I find myself feeling lucky I have a thick skin, and don’t really care what people think, otherwise FW might be really hard on me. Sure it’s exhausting, but it’s also fun. Even on the dark days, when friends turn out to be phony or nothing goes your way. If you’ve fallen victim to FW I hope this note reaches you, and you feel less alone. I really can’t speak for everyone, but I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way, so please remember you’re not alone. If you can remember how lucky you are to be there, and how many people would kill for your spot, you might be able to find a way to smile through the bad and find the silver lining. It’s never going to be perfect, but if you can find the bright spots, make some friends and find a way to do your job the best you can – you might come out the other side feeling a little bit better.
I hope you loved this uncensored side of NYFW. I’ll be back tomorrow with everything I wore throughout the week.
SHOP THE LOOK
MSGM Knit Striped Bomber Jacket, Black •
alice + olivia ‘Stace Face’ glitter leather crossbody wallet
Wide leather belt with pearl Double G
Women’s Cece Bow Tie Blouse
Gucci – Faux Pearl-embellished Leather Belt – Black
Gucci Marmont Fringe Suede 55mm Loafer, Red