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Nine Things You Didn’t Know About Fashion Week

Ahh, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week—to the outsider, it's all about the glitz, the glamour, and the hordes of really, really skinny girls running around Manhattan in perilously high heels. Well, even to insiders, those things are pretty much true. But as someone who's seen the action up close—both in front of and behind the scenes—I can attest that there's actually a lot more to Fashion Week than just parties, champagne, and swag bags. Don your backstage pass and take a peek behind the black curtain, because there are some facts about this semi-annual stylefest that might surprise you.  Let's get enlightened, shall we? 
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There’s a Lot of Buildup for Very Little Payoff
There is Food Everywhere.
Models Eat. A Lot.
The Most Ridiculous Outfits are Worn by the Most Useless People
Models Aren’t Allowed to Smile
People Work Incredibly Hard
They Are Curiously Concerned About Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
The Port-a-Potties are Amazing
Being “On the List” Feels Pretty Good
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There’s a Lot of Buildup for Very Little Payoff

Every show requires months of design work, weeks of set, music, and lighting design, hours of hair and makeup—and that doesn’t even take into consideration the time and energy spent on the press side, inviting people to the show, checking them in, and getting them seated. The actual length of most runway shows? About 15 minutes.

There is Food Everywhere.

Beyond the water, soda, and snacks being passed around in the tent lobby, there is a catering spread backstage at each and every show. Coffee, tea, juice, veggies, fruit, sandwiches, pastries, cheese, snacks, cookies…you name it, it’s there, and it’s free for the taking. And if you don’t get there soon enough, someone else will take it. Beside the media people gulping down Diet Pepsi in the tents, who’s eating all this delicious free food, you ask?

Models Eat. A Lot.

The models are eating constantly. They eat bagels, they eat pasta salad, they eat cookies, they eat cheese. They spend so much time eating that to get a picture of them, you often have to politely interrupt their lunch. They are cool with it; it is their job, after all.

The Most Ridiculous Outfits are Worn by the Most Useless People

Call it DivineCaroline’s First Law of Fashion Week: The more patently ridiculous and impractical a person’s outfit is, the more irrelevant they are to the event.

The actual purpose of Fashion Week is for editors, store buyers, and industry insiders to preview designers’ new collections. These people are basically at work. They’re dressed well, but no better than they would be on any other day. (They’re fashion insiders, though, so their everyday looks are still pretty fierce.) The only people who get dressed to the nines and arrive wearing crazy street-style looks are people who are there mainly to get their pictures taken. Anyone wearing something truly outrageous is just a fameball or a self-aggrandizing minor blogger trying to get some publicity. A filmy, diaphanous skirt and sandals on a freezing February day? Please.

Models Aren’t Allowed to Smile

The reason models make sexyface all the time isn’t because they want to—it’s because that’s what designers demand. (Do angry women sell more clothes?) If, hypothetically, you are taking a hair-and-makeup shot of a model, not even getting the garments in the picture, and you tell the model it’s okay to smile, be prepared for the designer to come up behind you and hiss NO SMILING, causing the model to almost faint. I think I may have gotten that girl fired.

People Work Incredibly Hard

Behind the scenes, there is a small army of hair stylists, makeup artists, publicists, designers, fitters, model wranglers, garment handlers, photographers, interns, volunteers, editors, writers, and various other professionals running from show to show, not sleeping, living on junk food, and basically working their butts off. They don’t get much credit, but they deserve more.

They Are Curiously Concerned About Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

This puzzling sign is posted backstage at every show at Fashion Week. Was there a problem with drunk pregnant models?

The Port-a-Potties are Amazing

Seriously. I have lived in apartments where my bathroom wasn’t as nice as the portable toilets backstage at fashion shows. They have lighting, sinks, step flushes, fancy soap, and running water. They even smell good.

Being “On the List” Feels Pretty Good

Even if you don’t buy in to the commercialism and the hype of the event, there is still a tiny rush every time you walk backstage, confidently say, “I’m on the list,” and have a smiling assistant hand you your backstage pass.

Fall 2012 Fashion Week: Beautiful Buns at KAELEN and Tadashi
NYFW Fall 2012: Cool, Colorful Makeup at Charlotte Ronson
Grammy Fashion 2012: What Were They Thinking?

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