DIARY OF A CRASHER

Byline: Jessica Kerwin

How hard is it to crash a fashion show without an invitation? A young WWD fashion assistant was determined to find out. Here, an inside look at fashion--from outside the tents.

NEW YORK--It was mission semi-impossible: to crash some of the hottest New York collections. I've been stuffing garment bags, rolling racks, sorting shoes and otherwise schlepping since I started at WWD four months ago--isn't fashion supposed to have a little glamour? This was my chance to find it. After all, I have enough black clothes to look like one of the flock. So I upgraded my sunglasses, traded in my backpack for a sleek shoulder bag, and launched my attack. Here's how I fared.
SATURDAY
Marc Jacobs, 2:39 p.m.: Slid in with the pack of fashion schemers near the curb. As the legit guests grew in number, we fell back, waiting to pounce. Crashers huddled, negotiated and conferred. A few even got bored with the wait and left. Finally, the list-wielding ushers just stepped away, and let us barrel through, past the checkpoint, down Tribeca Studio's back halls, and into a dirty freight elevator. We regained our composure in time for the show.
SUNDAY
Miu Miu, 2:30 p.m.: Circled Josephine once, a plan brewing. The music started, and I made a mad run for it, pantomiming important lateness. A guard flung the door open for me. I peered over the audience at an imaginary seat assignment, shaking my head. "I can't climb in there," I told the usher, "I'll just watch from the standing area." She led the way.
DKNY, 6:20 p.m.: Was met head-on by one of those grim CFDA security guys, who turned me away. Outside, I casually lifted up the canvas hem of the tent. I could see the models from the waist up--through the legs of the standing-room set. Then, a tap on my shoulder, from a young woman who identified herself as a design assistant. She was outside chasing Donna's gospel choir to say thank-you. "Can you really see through there?" she asked, and promised to try to find me a pass. Well, it's the thought that counts--I think I saw a yellow trenchcoat.
Christian Blanken, 8:50 p.m.: Waited. Clambered in with the last of the stragglers. Couldn't see. Left.
TUESDAY
Isaac Mizrahi, 2:32 p.m.: "But I RSVP'd for standing room," I whined. "It's closed," said a guard. "He won't get in," another predicted as Michael Hutchence parted the crowd. He did. Inspired, I braved the rain and circled the tent like a vulture. No luck, so I bought myself some cookies and headed back to the office.
Betsey Johnson, 6:15 p.m.: Told Lulu Johnson that I was Jane Williams, freelance stylist. Didn't she remember receiving my fax? She asked if I'd done anything that she would have seen. "No," I said, "not yet." With an annoyed flick of her wrist, Lulu handed me a pass.
Todd Oldham, 7:15 p.m.: After several attempts at the front, swung around to Gertrude's side door. Jane Williams, freelance stylist who was just starting out, was nudged through security by a sympathetic Kevin Krier employee. Thanks, Matthew!
WEDNESDAY
Ralph Lauren, 11:01 a.m.: Jane Williams was not on the list. Yes, they were sure. A very dead end. Finis, 6:20 p.m.: Walked in. Even sat down.
Anna Sui, 7:13 p.m.: Armageddon at the door: Shoving, pushing, guards a-bellowin'. "If everyone without a ticket doesn't back up, I'll push you all the way down to 14th Street," one threatened. The buyers, the editors, the hip and the chic flapped their acid-green invitations at everyone in sight. I was acid green with envy.
THURSDAY
Victor Alfaro, 4:30 p.m.: I want to choke the pushy girl with long red hair. She cut in front of me and was the last one let through the doors. Superstition over my losing streak sets in: I realize I never got into a show when wearing loafers.
FRIDAY
Calvin Klein, 11:05 a.m.: Broke out the heavy artillery for Ms. Name-Checker, unsuspecting and in my path. As she poured over the list, I crossed my fingers conspicuously and said, "I hope, I hope." Name not there, etc., etc. "You know," I said, winging off my sunglasses for effect, "it would be very generous of you to let me in." Discomfort crossed her face, but generosity and garments don't hang in the same closet.
Donna Karan, Never. Not even worth trying. The path I'd worn into the Fifth Avenue sidewalk between the WWD office and Bryant Park was deep enough. Fashion moves on, and so will I--for now. But somebody, just invite me next time, please.

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