HCG goes to NYFW: Part I

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I know there are lots of acronyms in that title, so here's a quick translation: Here Comes Gina goes to New York Fashion Week.

For any newcomers, here's some quick background on the event (if this is old hat to you, jump ahead): New York Fashion Week is held twice a year - once in September and again in February.  Designers show collections one season ahead of the current season; for example, this FW showed Spring 2010 collections.  For the past 15 years, Fashion Week has been held in tents in Bryant Park; after the February 2010 shows, Fashion Week will move to Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center.  Lots of shows are held in the tents, but many designers choose to show their collections at other locations throughout the city (at hotels, studios, artists lofts, etc.)  Like many fashion-obsessed women with non-fashion jobs, I stalk my usual fashion sites throughout each Fashion Week, trying to experience a glimpse of the excitement.  This year, things were different.

Like many of you already know, I applied for and received a press pass to NYFW.  Because I have this burdensome full-time job, I couldn't make it up there until the weekend (the shows began on a Thursday).  My husband business partner Joe and I NJT-ed it up on Saturday and upon arrival we headed straight for the tents so I could pick up my press pass.  Part of me thought I would get there and my name wouldn't be on the list, but it was and my pass was handed over.  When we left the credentials office, Joe and I engaged in a heated discussion about whether I should wear the press pass or just hold it.   I didn't want to look like a loser with the thing around my neck if that wasn't cool, but Joe convinced me that he saw everyone else wearing the passes around their necks and I would look like an outsider (gasp) if I didn't do so as well.  Look like an outsider?  I'd rather die.

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As you can tell, I was pretty excited about this pass - it looked very official.  I even wore it over my suit to work on Monday morning and pretended like I forgot I had it on.

Next I headed into the tents which was interesting.  The main tent wasn't as large as I thought it would be.

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There was a crazy line for the ADAM show, and I staked out the entrance to see if I could sneak in.  Very official looking PR people with headsets and clipboards plus security guys were manning the door.  I decided it probably wasn't going to be so easy to sneak into shows.

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I really didn't know what to do with myself, so I took lots of photos of the place.  I stopped by the press lounge (after all, I belong there, right?) where lots of people were typing feverishly on their laptops.  Just to make sure I fit in, I took out my Blackberry and started typing really fast with a serious expression so it looked like I had something important to do (really I was just typing a blank e-mail that read "asdsdfsdgs").  I stopped by a lounge sponsored by Maybelline, took some more photos and looked at the photos I had already taken on my camera.

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Since I realized I didn't have much of a chance of sneaking into any shows on Day 1, I decided to take care of other business while in the city.  We scooted (not literally - we didn't bring our scooter to NY) over to the Charlotte Ronson store in Soho to meet the Who What Wear girls Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr who just released their first book.  Who What Wear is an awesome fashion and beauty site (Nicole Richie and Rachel Bilson are fans and are quoted in the book); if you're not already signed up for their daily e-mails, I highly recommend doing so.  They offer great styling tips and imaginative takes on new trends, plus details on celebrity ensembles (part of the cool "What She Wore" series).  I picked up a copy of the book (which is a nice addition to my arsenal of style guides) and chatted with them.  Both women were warm and friendly.  Their site has truly blown up since its inception in 2006 and is an example of an idea that has manifested into a wildly successful business.

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Team HCG decided we would go back to Bryant Park after the WWW encounter and, on our way, we stumbled upon a street fair in Soho.  This scary clown in a dunk tank was heckling people like crazy, so I decided to take a photo.  As I did so, I heard him yell out "Come closer little lady, want me to smiiiiile?  Yeah, you with the long hair and the umbrella!  Don't think I don't see you trying to take my picture!" (At this point I turned around and started running toward Joe) "Yeah, go ahead and run back to your boyfriend, girly!"  This was the best shot I could get:

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I'm sure those with clown phobias (Hoolie) are happy this is a blurry photo.

Since the Charlotte Ronson store was in Soho and since I have a crack like addiction to the store Uniqlo, I cajoled Joe into "stopping by" there "really quickly" on our way back to the tents.  An hour and nearly $300 later, half of Team HCG was very happy. [Digression: Uniqlo is one of my favorite stores in the world - and I mean that literally.  It's a Japanese brand with only its sole North American location in Soho, and I always get fabulous pieces there for incredibly reasonable prices.  Uniqlo post to follow.]

We grabbed some burgers in Soho and headed back to the tents to see if we were missing anything (we weren't).  There really weren't so many high profile shows at the tents that Saturday, so it wasn't surprising that the scene was relatively chill.  There were lots of tourists standing around staring at the entrance, so I felt super cool when I walked up and steps and simply walked in (the press pass at least got me a brief feeling of superiority).

Special thanks are owed to Joe for his excellent navigation on Day 1.  He maneuvered the subway system like a starving squirrel troweling through the forest for nuts.  As you can tell from the photo below, he looks rather nervous as he consults his little subway map, fearing I'll freak out if we get lost or waver off our schedule.  Me?  Freak out? Okay, maybe Joe had good reason to be concerned.  Our commute to NY that morning was a little rocky at first - I slipped on a recently mopped floor in the Trenton train station and totally bit it.  Joe tried to console me but I felt embarrassed and wouldn't talk to him for like the first 20 minutes of the train ride (you know how that feels, right?).  I apologized profusely once I regained my composure. Yes, I felt very badly and, yes, I know he's the second coming of Christ.

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Finally, and only because I got a lot of questions about what I was going to wear, below is a photo of my ensemble from Day 1:

RMH&M blazer, F21 ruffle tank (c'mon, you didn't think I'd go to NYFW without a little F21, did you?), J. Crew pants, Christian Louboutin heels, Chanel bag.  Joe took so many photos I eventually started running away from him (plus it was raining and I didn't want my hair to get big).  He kept snapping.

We finished up Day 1 by attending a discussion hosted by the New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn with photographer Juergen Teller.  Teller has been the exclusive photographer of Marc Jacobs advertising campaigns for the past 11 years, and he talked about his work with Victoria Beckham and Sofia Coppola, among others.  I took tons of notes on my little notepad (I saw other journalists doing the same - Joe said I looked very serious), so look out for a post on that soon.

Day 2 coming up...