Fashion Week: It seems so glamorous. Zipping away to Auckland for a week for “work”. Sipping champagne and attending fashion shows whilst rubbing shoulders with celebrities and influencers. But truth be told Fashion Week isn’t all glam and selfies. It’s a strange Wonderland that leaves me feeling a lot Alice chasing that damn rabbit.
I first started attending New Zealand Fashion Week with Mariana for The Madisons. To be fair it was just as much an excuse for us to stay in Auckland for a week shopping and eating in all the best restaurants as it was an opportunity to provide some awesome content for our site. We had fun. So much fun. We both have other things going – the fashion industry isn’t our main focus – so it was pretty cool to take a sojourn in this strange and exotic land where tall thin creatures with shining white teeth dwelt. It was also cool to not care what any of these people thought of us. I mean at the end of the week we were heading back home to our slippers, novels-in-progress and mum-life.
This year was different. My wing-woman, Mariana, would not be accompanying me this year. I had to decide whether to opt out, or to be a big brave unicorn and go it alone. I chose the latter. After all I have special unicorn business to attend to! I need to spread the message of the Full Time Unicorn (embracing your inner awesome and living your best life) far and wide!
Of course I wasn’t really going it alone! Over the past four years I’ve met heaps of bad-ass babes at fashion week, so the universe conspired and I ended up sharing an apartment with my fashion designer friend Desiree. We were two minutes from the viaduct and the complex had a spa and a pool! Bliss!
The Fashion Week Lurgy
Sadly however, I was not able to avoid the dreaded Fashion Week lurgy that threatened to strike down many models and delegates alike. The Fashion Week lurgy does not discriminate. I offered Codrol, while my girl Jess had a stash of Strepsils and even a jar of honey in her hand bag!
So by day one I was already tired. I was there to network and meet some awesome writers, designers, stylists et at, but all I wanted was a hot lemon drink and a fluffy cat to cuddle. Networking at Fashion Week is hard at it is. Try networking with a gravely throat and a case of the sneezes!
The Designers are too busy to Chat
I quickly learnt that my intentions of interviewing designers backstage was not a viable option. For one, all of the designers showing at Fashion Week are flat out and frazzled, as is everyone in their team. They are so busy trying to put on an amazing show that reveals all their hard work, adds to their brand and creates a buzz for their new collection, that they don’t even have a second to spare. So my interviews with designers living their dreams would have to wait.
As would I…
Hurry Up and Wait
Waiting is part of the game at NZFW. Ever heard of the term fashionably late? Well turns out it actually stems from the fashion industry. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. I spent more time at Fashion Week waiting for shows that I did actually watching shows.
Normally waiting isn’t an issue. That is if you have a firm squad who are at every show you are. But seeing as not all 2000 delegates can fit into every venue there are times where you will ultimately be going it alone. That means waiting alone. In a line, nursing a glass of wine that is slowing getting warmer as the room fills with people.
Networking at Fashion Week as a Highly Sensitive Introvert
If I were not a highly sensitive introvert, perhaps this part would be easier. If I were a fiery extrovert who commandeered the room perhaps people would flock to my side to strike up a convo. Or perhaps I wouldn’t find it so hard to do the same. Truth is I suck at making the first move. Though once I have I am fine! I can chat to anyone about anything and somehow get down to ‘the real shit’ pretty quickly.
But it’s making that first move that’s the hardest. More often than not, I found myself chugging back my third glass of bubbles before I dared to approach another lone wolf. This made me realise just how crazy an environment it is that all of us fashion peeps need to be a bit boozed to say hello. We already know we are like minded – we’re at the same show – but still we struggle to mix and mingle unless we’ve mixed and mingled before. We rely on the steady supply of free booze to get us chatting and depending on how much of it we’ve had, chatting may or may not be a good idea!
And sadly, not all attempts to make a new buddy are reciprocated. Sometimes all you get is a one word response and an awkward silence. Not all fashion peeps are friendly! Some are waaay cooler than you.
Being Highly Sensitive, I also find the fashion week environment hard work. There’s the lights, the music, the tight clothes and the shoes that rub. There’s people. So many people. (Some wearing very strong perfume!) It’s all a bit much. Thankfully this year I was so close to our apartment, that I could nip back for a cup of tea when it all got too much.
The Fashion: Genuinely the Highlight of Fashion Week
The fashion, textile art displayed on walking canvases, is the best part of Fashion Week. It is amazing what people can do with fabric. I personally gave up on sewing in high school when I realised I did not like pins or working with flappy materials. These geniuses did not. They worked through the trials and now they create amazing pieces of art.
Every year there are so many shows I am dying to see. But the sad thing about a week full of fashion is that eventually it all starts to blur into one. At the first show, you’re inspired, you’re mesmerised. By the last show, the music is a bit too loud and you’re dreaming about dating one of the models.
The Perils of Social Media at Fashion Week
One major distraction from the fashion is social media. That modern beast. I was so busy vlogging, snapping, tweeting and instagraming, that I genuinely forgot to watch the shows. Yep. Much like everyone else I was there to cover fashion week, so much so that I forgot to actually experience fashion week. When people asked me after the show if I saw the boobs, bums or crushed velvet, I mostly hadn’t. How would the shows be if we actually watched in the moment?
Fashion Week: The Blatant Paradox
Another big distraction from the art is the paradoxical nature of the whole ordeal. I am watching 16 year old girls walk down the runway, wearing clothes their tiny frames look great in, but even these bright young things, who are in the industry, cannot afford to buy them. They are showing them to us; an audience full of writers, photographers, fellow designers and social media influencers who also are unlikely to have a grand to throw down on a designer dress. The women in the crowd (or sitting at work in their lunch break reading a blog about the show) who could perhaps afford these items, are over 50 at least and look nothing like the young twiglets showing off the garments.
And the designers, having spent A LOT of money to be part of NZFW are hoping and praying the publicity created by all these bloggers, photographers and influencers, is enough to get said 50 plus woman to head down to her local store and give the clothes a try on. Let’s just hope she’s okay with how they sit on her 50 plus figure.
The Fashion Week Revelation
There was a moment at Fashion Week between shows, where I sat outside in the beautiful Auckland sun feeling strangely underwhelmed. I watched people take multiple Outfit of the Day pics and chat in groups. I watched people point out cool clothes on other people and covertly photograph them. But mostly I watched people who were conscious of being watched. Primed for it. Waiting. Hopeful that someone would care enough to strike up a conversation or even ask them for a photo that would enhance their social media lives.
It didn’t feel real. Just like Jim Carey said on the New York Fashion Week red carpet recently “None of this is real.” I concur. It isn’t real. That used to be the appeal of Fashion Week; it’s ethereal anti-reality quality. But the more time I spend digging deeper into myself, into my spiritual side, the more I crave realness. I’d rather sit down with just one person and talk challenges, hopes and fears, pull tarot cards and drink tea, than attempt to mingle with over 1000 people that are living in a matrix of image and perfection.
What my Fashion Week experience lacked was connection. Genuine honest connection. Not talk-to you-until-I-see-someone-with-more-followers connection. It was there, sitting on that concrete bollard that I realised that this was not the place where I would find that connection, and perhaps not the kind of event for me to focus my intentions on at this time.
My Last Fashion Week?
I’m not saying that I will never attend another Fashion Week. Indeed with Mariana, covering our lifestyle blog The Madisons, I may. But as far as Full Time Unicorn goes the event in itself doesn’t foster the kind of energy I am seeking.
Where to from here?
The great thing about finding out that something no longer serves you is that it frees up space in your heart and soul. It makes room for those things that truly do fulfil you. Looking forward, I will be sending out my intentions to manifest new opportunities where I can share my message. I’m hoping for more speaking engagements and workshops. I’m putting it up to the Universe for now and we’ll see how she responds.
As usual I managed to procure a whole lot of fashion week swag. We’re talking bags and bags of cosmetics and the like. But, seeing as I am a giving kind of person, I am giving THE LOT away! Check out my Facebook and Instagram for a chance to snag my swag.
Fashion Week Swag giveaway is to be drawn on the 13th of October. Half given away on Instagram the other half on Facebook. The giveaway is open to New Zealand residents only and prizes will be sent out via NZ post once winners announced and postal info provided. Prize drawn at random. Good luck!