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Fashion Week -- First Week

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"First Look!" That phrase alone is enough to make those in Fashion, who know its meaning lose it... Ahhhhhh!!! (Macaulay Caulken's Home Alone scream face).

In the fashion world, the media generally sees the models on the catwalk -- perfectly put together, hair, makeup, and sometimes nails, if they remember or think to hire a nail team.

For an entire 11 to 20 minute show, the real production starts a year in advance. It takes months of planning color, fabrics, and forecasting. The last segment is pulling in the beauty team: the lead and head stylists are the most key, as they are the visionaries. They must look at the collection, be inspired by it, get creative, and still work within the boundaries of the designer. And that is no easy task, because the artists must decide for themselves what moves them, inspires them and then create a masterpiece. With each season that passes, the pressure increases. You must be better than the last time, more creative, innovative, and somehow make this insanity look sane.

I have been in this game of fashion for 21 years, and the drive is still there. The passion is still burning. I have managed to stretch out my fifteen minutes of fame to the lifespan of an average career in fashion, 20 years. When most people consider it time to retire, in fashion you look to reinvent yourself. And reinvent myself is what I have chosen to do. It is with great pleasure that I invite you to meet some of the industry's up and coming icons.

Matthew Curtis, British born, lead session stylist for UK TreSemme is taking New York by storm. The first time as an observer, and the second visit he was assisting. During this current visit, he leads the hair teams for several of the industry's brilliant designers, Ralph Lauren, Falguni & Shane Peacock, Marc Jacobs, Billy Reid, Jad Ghandour, Negarin, Rafael Cennamo to name a few; flying thousands of miles to foreign grounds to make his mark in the New York fashion scene. He does not do this alone. His entourage travels from Spain (Anthony Llobet), Sweden (Marwana Hitti), London (Harry Goodfellow), and Sweden (Ulrica Nilsson). Along with his American-based team lead by NY Fashion veteran Michelle Swiney and Moet Stewart. Newcomers flock to the opportunity to be on the fashion scene to be baptized in the holy grounds of the tents.

For some, this is their one shot at fame, for others this may be a sample of something they may never want to taste again. It brings out either the best or worst in people. The egos, the divas and divos, the self-entitled, bitter, want-to-be's, the leaders, the followers, the innovators, the creators, whatever you are or want to be will be exposed.

This season I wore two hats. One was that of a producer, for Curtis' amazing international hair team, sponsored by TreSemme Uk, T3/Fashion 360 and Shuly's Wigs. With this hat I had the opportunity to see the whole picture. The ability to lead some 15 to 16 artists takes more skills than doing hair. For this job, you have to be a people person, teacher, and most importantly a motivator. Uplift your team and praise them for what they bring to the table.

I also got a chance to see some great professional friends on make up, Gordon Espinet, MAC Cosmetics, Mimi Kamara, Lucia Pieroni, Orlando Pita, and Mally Roncal.

The most fun to watch was the manicurists. Watching Lisa Logan crawl under the table to get the job done is one of my favorite priceless moments. Her skill as a manicurist is only the tip of the iceberg. When you see how hands-on she is with her team, when she interacts with the press, and models, it is refreshing.

I was able to come to the assistance of Tracey Lee, another amazing celebrity manicurist. Her positive outlook of the industry is amazing. After 25 years, she too knows the good, the bad, and the ugly. But ask her how she feels about her experiences, "I love what I do," she says.

Kelly Baber is another celebrity manicurist, team player, and connector of people also brings great opportunities to artists who may not otherwise have had them.

Business expert Cinnamon Bowser, owner of Nail Taxi also brought together her team of international artists, both locally and from London to hit the tents.

I continue to hold my position with the help of my team. They stand with me and my brand, working to keep our profession respected and relevant. Fellow artist Maisie Dunbar--founder of BluffaJo, Natasha Ray, Tadihiro Max Iswaka, Chanelle Morris, Shamina J. Di Mauro and my faithful right hand woman Janine Linton were on hand to keep this game beautiful. Vera Wang, Son Jung Wan, Daphney Guinness, Tommy Hilfiger, The Vessel by Lois, and Angel Sanchez--the newcomer blessed by the m2m damoreJon team.

Fashion Week generates millions of dollars from travelers, observers, and locals. The media exposure only covers the half of what really goes on during that one week. Then they go packing for five more Fashion Weeks in five different locations, London, Milan, Paris, Berlin, and Japan.

So, wherever you are, look for the tents. That's where the action will be.

For more information on Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, visit www.mbfashionweek.com