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October 1, 2019

GUEST ROOM | How to Sneak Into Fashion Week

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The end of September marked the end of fashion month. After New York, London and Milan, some of the world’s highest Haute Couture houses will be closing their Spring 2020 women’s collections in Paris Oct. 1. For the past three weeks, the media has overflowed with streetstyle, runway and secret after-party pictures, leaving us fashion enthusiasts drooling on our screens.

Be aware that the alluring image of ‘Fashion Week’ is not as out of reach is it may seem.

Let me not get your hopes up — of course you won’t be sitting with Rihanna in the front row of the next Chanel or Louis Vuitton show — but if you wish to attend a show during Fashion Week, there are ways to do just that.

Three years ago, when my best friend and I were juniors in high school, we went on a quest to get ourselves into a show. We realized we had lived in Paris our entire lives and yet had never encountered, even from afar, anything close to a Fashion Week event. We put on fancy clothes, scouted out where the grand shows were being held and clumsily showed up to their doorsteps an hour before they started. We quickly gave up that method after being laughed at and kicked out of line a couple of times by very well-dressed models who acted as bouncers once they heard that we weren’t on the list. Not to worry, we went through these embarrassing rejections so others could skip them.

We rethought our technique and understood that to be part of the “insiders,” we had to think like the “insiders.” Houses need two things: a good image and exposure. Unless you are a writer for Vogue, Elle, a famous photographer or a model, big houses don’t need you. They will not let you in because you are simply of no use to them. However, there are around 80 shows per Fashion Week and not all of them are as selective.

Whatever week you attend, the shows are scattered throughout the city. You can look up the official schedule online, and stalk instagram posts or Reddit and Twitter threads to find the addresses. You will quickly realize that it isn’t possible to attend everything. But that’s good. The press is naturally attracted to the most famous houses so if two shows are back to back and far away from each other, you can almost always bet that some people won’t show up to the smaller show. As I said, houses need a good image and that also includes having a full house for a show. So most of the time, they will have a ‘standby’ line in case they have extra room and need people to fill in the blanks. This will get you in eventually. But it is a large commitment (a lot of skipped classes, traveling and waiting outside), and nothing is guaranteed.

As a result, we revised our method for a more sustainable way of getting in, and over the course of a year and a couple more Fashion Weeks later, we finessed our technique. We attended both women’s and men’s Fashion Week shows. While the women’s shows are iconic, the men’s are underrated and much easier to get into. Smaller brands need exposure. Write out a generic email explaining that you’re a student, a writer and that you love their brand and want to cover their show. We recommend this be an honest statement. Email and call every press agent you can weeks in advance — you will be lucky to get one positive answer for 20 emails sent, but it is worth it when you get there and are on the list. If this fails, try to get on the standby list. Dress well but not too eccentric, bring a big camera, show up right before the show begins and politely ask someone — who doesn’t look too stressed out — if there’s any chance you can stand and watch. Most importantly, don’t give up. Many people in the industry are snobby, inconsiderate and mean but never forget they’re at the lowest level in the “fashion hierarchy.” The important people — those who make decisions — are usually lovely.

Kayla Bouazouni is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]