On the last day of Fashion Week, a very long legged person in hot shorts and fishnets appeared at my doorstep. It was Wonkette videographer and yoga instructor Liz Glover, bearing many gifts: interviews with Russell Simmons and Ivana Trump discussing world affairs! Brandon Davis! A Polaroid of her and Vince Gallo! Also, a baggily dressed student. "How did you get Vincent Gallo to talk to you?" I wondered. "Well, I told him that Gawker may be mean, but that I teach yoga, and I believe in karma," she said sunnily. She had similarly won herself entrance to Zac Posen, Calvin Klein and numerous parties we couldn't. But it was a double-edged sword: Fashion Week, she found, was full of negative energy, misaligned chakras and spiritual hunger. (And also: hunger.) It was so disturbing, in fact, she felt she wanted to write a personal plea for self-love to all its participants. As her pupil massaged our cat — he was headed on a retreat in Hawaii the next day, and he needed Liz to sign a release form ("You know us Libras, we can't decide if we're going till the spur of the moment like that") — and Liz told us about the disturbing orgy at the Russell Simmons party, we decided it was a message that deserved to be aired.
Dear Fashion Weekers:
I'm on the train headed back to DC - tranquil, lovely DC with its tree-lined streets and clean air (well, cleaner at least) that doesn't give me the Black Lung. Back to the yoga studio and my pastoral life. After Fashion Week in New York, it's what I crave — to escape the madness of New York, and the mania of
Fashion Week. Merrriam-Webster defines mania as follows: Main Entry: ma·nia Function: noun Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin, from Greek, from mainesthai to be mad; akin to Greek menos spirit — more at MIND 1 : excitement manifested by mental and physical hyperactivity, disorganization of behavior, and elevation of mood; specifically : the manic phase of bipolar disorder 2 a : excessive or unreasonable enthusiasm a mania for saving things — often used in combination b : the object of such enthusiasm
"Mania" seems like an appropriate word for Fashion Week, particularly the bipolar part. Fashion Week is all about extremes. The first day brings panic and anxiety attacks to some, headaches to others, as well as colds, flues, rashes, itching, massive diarrhea attacks and fits of vomiting. In short, people freak out. I love New York, and I enjoy fashion but the two combined forces result in a perfect storm of dizzying madness.
Many amazing things transpire across those 8 days as Shakti, the Hindu goddess of creation, manifests herself in the beautiful dresses crafted by the designers, the performance of each show, the formation of new friendships and business partners. But Shiva, the god of destruction casts his shadow - as the girls on the runway waste away, emaciated. "You can never be too skinny..." the old adage says. But what about the girls who die from anorexia and bulimia in the fashion industry and beyond? We protest the use of fur in fashion, but what about the starving girls? Perhaps a new organization needs to be formed - "People for the Ethical Treatment of Models." I'll be a Charter member. I've seen older women who have preserved their size 2, 6 foot frame through years of malnutrition at great detriment to their health. Tragic! I found myself humming Ted Leo's song, "Me and Mia" more than once last week.
Fighting for the smallest goal: to gain a little self-control Won't anybody here just let you disappear? Not doctors, nor your mom and dad, but me and Mia, Ann and Ana Know how hard you try. Don't you see it in my eyes? Sick to death of my dependence, fighting food to find transcendence Fighting to survive, more dead but more alive Cigarettes and speed for livin', and sleeping pills to feel forgiven All that you contrive, and all that you're deprived All the bourgeois social angels telling you you've got to change Don't have any idea. They'll never see so clear.
And what's it gonna be folks, which is more coveted - being thin or being buxom? Because it's nearly impossible to be both naturally. Any girl will tell you that the first thing to go when losing weight is her breasts - they shrink! So then what - breast augmentation surgery, our modern-day answer to all those storied female mutilation traditions? A friend of mine was once considering breast augmentation. Her doctor told her that it's common to experience depression after the procedure. When their larger breasts aren't the answer to all of life's problems and reality sets in, an anti-depressant cocktail is often needed. Big boobs do not equal happiness.
Ok, back to Fashion Week — skinny girls in beautiful clothes. Guests sizing one another up - who's that? who's that? velvet ropes, endless lists and most importantly, what are they wearing? I was reminded of a my experience in 7th grade when most of the girls wore ESPRIT and Tretorns, and displayed their clothing tags on the inside of their locker door for all to see. It almost seemed like brand worship. The training of "label whores" begins early. Labels become an artificial means of creating barriers between us and them. The steady march down the path of isolation and is easy with the harsh wind of hyper consumerism at our backs.
Shiva/Shakti, the yin and the yang, call it what you will, manifests in the way "celebrities" are treated, as well. It's a love/hate relationship. We maneuver to catch a glimpse of them, but then we perhaps project our own sense of self-hatred onto them and revel in their misery. As a Hindu sage once said, "All is within."
More dualism at the fabulous and fun Heatherette afterparty. It was a celebration of creativity and reminded me of pre-Giuliani New York. The drag queens, often cast out by society as freaks were being celebrated. But in the midst of the celebration I saw a boy standing by the bathroom looking ill from over consumption of perhaps the narcotic sort. It sort of broke my heart. To see him punishing his body when it was a time to celebrate it. I was also disturbed by the number of times I heard gay men refer to themselves as "fags" with a hint of self-loathing in their voice. I wanted to say - so you're gay - who cares? what's not to love?
But the Russell Simmons party at Tenjune had a darker energy about it. The crowd — a typical Fashion Week mix of models (a couple familiar faces), some rap artists but none I recognized, and banker types. What is it about bankers? They were all wearing white checked shirts that all looked like they'd come to the party directly from Thomas Pink. Forgive me for asking, but even in Washington I believe it is conventional wisdom that Pink is very, like, 2004. Is it staging a comeback? I also wondered, how is it that they party so hard when they have to show up at the office at 7 a.m. the next day? Are they on amphetamines? Throughout the week I wondered whether I was the only person in this town who was not abusing Adderall. I was also impressed with the fact that most of them seemed to be in very good shape. How do they find time to work out, amidst all the frantic phone calling and late night Power-Pointing and model-groping?
The night began with typical hip-hop fare. But as the evening progressed the set migrated from hip-hop to U2 (we nearly left) and then lots of trance-y house. Is ectsasy back in vogue? What I have never understood is why a person would take drugs — and the same goes for cocaine, heroin and crack — when they are fully aware that some foreign substance has been added to them, and they are also fully aware that they have no idea what that substances are.
Perhaps on account of such substances, the room was tense with anticipation, permeated by a vibe of quiet desperation not unlike the type one encounters at casinos. Everyone seemed to have a suddenly urgent agenda — fame, fortune, love — but the reason I bring up ecstasy is because quite a lot of people seemed to have an agenda called "plain old sex." In one corner a few female models were grinding male models, and in another bankers were grinding on girls who were maybe publicists. Then some dude who was like the cousin of the brother of the best friend of the owner of a very, very famous Italian restaurant walked in, and a crowd of girls grinded up against him en masse. Why? I couldn't say, but at that point the dancing seemed to get more overtly sexual. Something like the lambada was being performed. Girls began necking men I knew they'd never spoken two words to.
One man attempted this sort of move on me. "I know everybody in the entertainment industry, so if you want to be a star I can hook you up," he said, while draping his arm around me. I didn't know men still used lines like like this. Do they work? I shrank away. But it did not end. Throughout the evening I had to: a) repeat multiple times to several different "suitors" that they were invading my personal space. Usually that didn't work so then I'd escalate to b) firmly stating that I DON'T LIKE TO BE TOUCHED BY PEOPLE WHO DON'T EVEN KNOW MY FIRST NAME. If that failed then I'd c) swat and shoo them away. I had to use this tactic on a man who somehow felt it appropriate to straddle me, right there on my seat.
And so it was heart-wrenching to watch my sisters, many of them straight off the catwalk, acting like lesbians and kissing on the dance floor just to vie for the attention of men whose idea of "seduction" is grabbing one's thigh. Ladies! It's 2007...not 1777. You don't need a man to complete you. You're not going to find happiness at the end of that line of blow, or in the arms of some wasted banker. Being beautiful has a disadvantage: the type of men you attract are often shallow. They may drive fancy cars, but they are not exactly emotionally available. Start buying your own drinks! And having your own LIFE.
There's no shortage of awesome guys out there - but you're probably not going to find them humping your leg at Tenjune at 3 am. And not all sisters are trying to steal your man. Which leads me to another depressing dynamic observed - that of the possessive girlfriend/sex interest. Why is it that male dogs are territorial (hence the leg-lifting) - it's usually a masculine trait - but it seems like women have become the more territorial of the sexes among Homo-sapiens. Goodness! If he's so easily swept off his feet by alluring glances from some girl, the heck with him anyway. Replace him with one who values who you are - a unique individual - not some interchangeable part. Then we can have more meaningful relationships with our boys, and not view every woman as the enemy. Don't deprive yourself of that. Leave the deprivation to your diet.
Anyway I'm almost to Union Station, and trying to leave it all behind. I was thrilled by the the creativity yet saddened by the destruction and desperation. Fashion Week brings out both to the extreme. So relieved to return to my fairly balanced (if slightly boring) life in DC. My heart goes out to those who are trapped in that world, seduced by the illusion of all that glitters, under Maya's spell. You are loved, even if you weren't on the runway, and can't afford designer clothes.
And my best to Andrew Freesmeier and his crew at IMG, the hardest working man in the tents. Way to pull it off - with grace. Thanks for a fantastic week!