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Why Fashion Week Matters: It's More Than Just The Clothes

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The festivities are wrapping up in the Bryant Park tents today and people like me are a little disappointed that Fashion Week is over.

Fashion Week gets a lot of flak from outsiders. They say that the models are too thin, the people are bitchy and isn't there a better way to spend all the money that goes into those shows? And not for nothing, but who even wears half that stuff?

Some of that may be true, but Fashion Week plays an important role in the mental and emotional economy of everyone who absorbs it.

For starters, Fashion Week encourages creativity. Those collections aren't created overnight. They represent months of work from a team of designers. That 20 minute runway show is the reward for suffering through the creative process, a process that has to come up with new and fresh ideas every few months. Very few people can do that, and the ones that can should be lauded for it. As a society we're comfortable praising a painting in a museum or a piece of music at Carnegie Hall. Fashion is no different. The artistic process to create it is one and the same.

That creative process is an important one. More people should embark in it. Granted, not everyone who walks out of those shows goes home and tries to design a ball gown. But I know that I've been inspired while watching the shows. After all, if those designers can put together an entire collection, surely I can go home and spend an hour working on my novel. Creativity begets more creativity. It's what New York is all about. Life would be drudgery without it.

One cannot overlook the social aspect of Fashion Week, either. The point of the front area of the tents -- besides being a convenient place to pick up shwag -- is to booze and schmooze. There's an open bar and a sitting area and I've found that simply saying hello and asking people what brought them to the tents can start wonderful conversations, not to mention an exchange of business cards. Life is all about connecting with other people. It's how friendships are formed and deals are sealed. If nothing else, Fashion Week is a great place to brush up your small talk skills.

Make no bones about it, though: Fashion Week is 80% theater. Those tents are people-watching gold. Everyone knows they're on display and much effort is spent on those first impressions. Not that there's anything wrong with wanting to looking good. We live in a country where people regularly leave their homes in velour sweat suits and the equivalent of pajama bottoms. It's a refreshing change of pace to be in a place where people are trying to put out the best versions of themselves. Say what you will about the vapidity of the fashion industry, but at least they do it in style.

Most importantly, it's an escape. It's a time to take a commercial break and stop and smell the Chanel. Inside the tents, it's okay to indulge in a little fantasy. Most of us do that anyway when we go to the movies or pick up a romance novel. It's just in a different form on the runway. And it's just as worthy of our time and energy.

See you in September.

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