It's the season of the hopeless romantic. Pretty chiffon, airy organza and other light-as-feather confections are sure to cause the heart to skip a beat.

Calvin Klein: Anna Wintour and Patrick McCarthy walked out. Which is a shame, because this was Francisco Costa's best show yet for Calvin Klein, and clearly one of the highlights of the New York season. But it was staged in a manner that offered a microcosm of all that's out of control about the fashion show system.

We all know that the rules, the focus, the entire reason for fashion shows had shifted dramatically from an insider focus to an outsider focus. Once upon a time, fashion shows were really about unveiling new collections to retailers and editors so that they could plan their upcoming seasons. Now, it's all about the Lindsays, Ashleys, Mary-Kates, Parises and, should one be so lucky, the Umas, Catherine Zetas and Nicoles. And it's about letting in the legions of media, print and television, who cover those people as their primary role, pushing, shoving, stomping over anyone (especially unfortunate, given the editorial set's current impending baby boom) who might come between their lenses and Clay Aiken. (One show regular suggested that steel-toed safety shoes should replace the stiletto sandal as the front-row shoe of choice.)

"It's over, this overwrought fashion show, it's over," said André Leon Talley after the show. "I'm sorry, we cannot have celebs in the front row. I love celebrities, but it's over. It's for people doing their job. Retailers and editors are being treated like they're second class. This is unfortunate for Francisco. It marred and diluted his message. Press people need to address the situation and invite fewer people."

While the celebrity-obsessed design houses are primarily responsible for the change, we have all played into it gleefully at one time or another. But those whose job execution is hindered by the situation have long since cried "Uncle," while the designers expect us to continue on like the old days, business as usual. And like Pavlov's dogs, we do it. Add into the mix, fashion's traditional idiosyncrasies. In the theater, an 8:00 curtain means 8:00. In football, a 1:00 kickoff means 1:00. One can even guess with a fair degree of accuracy what time Alanis Morissette would finish last night at Giants Stadium, and the Rolling Stones would take the stage. Only in fashion does a 5:00 start mean, at best 5:20, at worst, somewhere near 6 p.m., but never, ever does it mean 5:00. And in what other industry do major players routinely throw events at which they expect people to get all dressed up in their au courant best and then push and shove their way into a venue — perhaps in an old, creeky, dangerous elevator, where they will sit in sweltering heat and sweat like pigs on overcrowded benches until the main attraction gets under way? On the flip-side, where else do people throw open-air bashes in January and February, leaving their guests to freeze while they're backstage with the heating units?

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