On Sunday evening while seated front row at Prabal Gurung’s show, Jaime King was asked for her thoughts on Graydon Carter leaving Vanity Fair. Just as the show began, King turned behind her to a friend and expressed how jarring she found the question, given the political and weather-related events dominating the non-fashion news cycle at the moment.
A few hours later, King and a series of other guests — Huma Abedin, Kaitlyn and Mady Dever, Sabrina Carpenter, Mia Moretti — gathered in the back garden of Narcissa for the designer’s post-show drinks and dinner.
“Everybody’s truth is different — so what was important to the reporter in that moment was Graydon Carter stepping down from Vanity Fair but what was important to me, what I’ve been thinking about all day was totally different,” King explained of her earlier reaction. “But she can’t read my mind. And it would seem completely appropriate to ask that question at a fashion show. But it was what was going on inside of me that was different than what was going on inside of her. And she was doing her job. But it really showed me how affected I was feeling by all of this. It really wasn’t until she asked…I was like, ‘How do I answer this respectfully, honestly?’”
The bit of time between the show and the dinner had given her a chance to process — and she had a lot to say.
“I guess as you know as a journalist, it’s knowing your subject, knowing who you’re speaking to and what you lean towards. Some people are much more apolitical and some people — that’s not going to be the first thing on their mind and they’re not thinking about those kinds of things. I think knowledge is a really important thing. I think that if someone is coming to ask me questions, I hope that they would know — given that I’m very outspoken — what my perspective is, and tailor the question to that. That being said, we’re in a time where pop culture and fashion and those kinds of questions are really important. And it doesn’t mean that it is less significant, but to me what’s happening globally [and] within our country is much more significant, right? So it’s a really delicate balance.”
To her, a suggested approach to questions at a fashion show would take a more open entry. “In a way, I almost wonder if it’s about asking the person, given the fact that there’s all these things going on, ‘What are you really focused on? What are you interested in?’” she said. “Maybe posing the question to someone. ‘What is it that you’re reading or learning about that’s interesting to you right now in the news?’”
Gurung creates a space that King finds perfectly fitting for such discussion. “If you’re at a Prabal show, you know that Prabal’s very connected and conscious and aware of what he’s putting out there. I said after the show that he never teetered, he chose a side, and there are a lot of hazards in designers that didn’t choose. They were just sort of playing the field like, ‘oh we’re not really going to speak’ but we know what [Prabal’s] message is,” she said. “So when you’re at an event where you know what that person’s message is, you can lean into that. It’s people being conscious of, ‘where am I, what is the subject matter, what is the tone, what is the energy, and what topics can we explore?’”
King, a friend to many designers and a fan of fashion, has been struggling with the concept throughout fashion week.
“It’s challenging for me because I’m so hypersensitive to everything that’s going on. But at the same time it’s really important because pop culture, music, fashion, all that stuff is influencing and has a space of release for people. Artists and art have always been the voice of change, the road to topical conversation and discussion – that’s what we’re supposed to do as artists. So I think it’s important to still support the arts, right? But not get stuck in the idea that it’s the end-all be-all. That these events are…we can’t ignore one, we can’t ignore the other. So it’s a tricky time.
“It’s really jarring,” she continued of being at a beautiful runway show while processing the day’s news. “So then it makes you grateful that you can go and support artists that you love and have something to say. And at the same time doesn’t mean the other thing goes away. I can’t be sitting on the news and calling my senators every second of the day — there’s always a time and a place for that. We still have to go forward and move forward into the world and create a space in which we are supporting those that we love, a space where we feel like we’re doing the work so our kids can grow up in a healthy environment. What I’m realizing now is that with everything that’s happening in this country and globally, where it feels like it’s almost beyond the ballot box, beyond the scope of politics, I think that a lot of things are happening so we can choose how to come together and assist one another. Because that’s what it’s really about. It’s about, ‘how are you, how can I be of service to you, how can I help? Do you need water, have you slept?’ It’s about human decency. I think that human decency and the recognition of who are as Americans is the fabric of who we are and is something radically important.
“When everybody feels so overwhelmed like there’s nothing we can do to fix anything, what can we do? And it’s like, ‘oh, we can lift one another. We can be present for each other.’ And sometimes the most simple thing is the most powerful thing. And that’s the way we can swim when we feel like we’re being pummeled by all this stuff.”
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