As someone who wants to work in the magazine industry after graduation (hello May 2014!), I’ve always dreamed of going to New York Fashion Week. And yet, joining the herds of magazine editors at Lincoln Center has seemed like this distant dream of mine, saved for the exclusively fabulous elite of NYC. So when I was offered the opportunity to join the mecca of fashionistas, not inside the shows, but as a street style photographer for NYFW Fall 2014, I traveled back to New York for a week of freezing temperatures, hectic schedules, and most of all, style.
For those of you who aren’t fashion obsessed, Fashion Week is a preview of upcoming trends. Top industry designers show their collections to buyers to do business and editors to report on. NYFW starts off Fashion Month, which includes shows in London, Paris, and Milan.
The start of my NYFW experience can only be described as hectic between rushing home to New York after my Thursday night classes and traveling to the office I was working at in Brooklyn. Although I was stressed, I traveled, camera in hand and dressed in a ridiculous amount of layers, to Lincoln Center. It wasn’t until I spotted the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week sign, as I had only ever seen in pictures, that it hit me—I had made it to NYFW. I was finally in the same place with the fashion designers, models, photographers, editors, and bloggers that I look up to.
But unlike them, my job was to stand outside the tents photographing stylish fashion show attendees. I had a list of slideshows I was supposed to build using my favorite street style looks, including outfits we’d actually wear and people dressed inappropriately for the weather.
At first, I was frustrated by how basic the level of photography I was doing felt. There were so many photographers just snapping away at any stylish person they saw, hoping to capture a well-known model’s picture. But, I realized that I didn’t want to be just any of the photographers standing outside Lincoln Center. I wasn’t there to be the paparazzi.
So as I started my own task, I made it my rule to only photograph outfits that I liked. I searched for the interesting, the unique, but also, the wearable trends that caught my eye. Basically, I used my eye for fashion and detail. When I photographed outfits, I even took close ups of accessories and makeup looks that I wanted to share with my readers.
My typical day at NYFW was spent photographing trends in Lincoln Center during the day, and then building slideshows and articles based on what I found at night. The interesting people and connections I made helped me through long (cold!) days as I built my own vision of fashion week.
I may not be a NYFW pro quite yet, but as the week went on, I definitely learned a few things about this biannual week of nonstop fashion. Firstly, I was surprised at how open Fashion Week is to the public. I met students who just wanted to sit outside and people watch. Anyone who’s interested in fashion can come and photograph street style for their personal blogs. Many NYFW attendees get dressed hoping to end up in street style round ups, so they’re friendly and approachable. Often, a group of photographers would crowd around someone with an interesting outfit, as if they were having a mini photo shoot.
Ultimately, what I learned is that although NYFW is really an industry event about doing business, it’s more accessible than I originally thought. Once upon a time (okay, a few weeks ago), Fashion Week seemed like a far off dream of mine. But I made it my reality. There are definitely opportunities for anyone interested in fashion to be involved, whether it be by volunteering at shows, or stalking live streams from your dorm room.
Now, I'm off to dreaming about the days when I’m actually a magazine editor who’s inside the NYFW tents!