For those whose careers revolve around fabric explosions floating down the runway, every Fashion Week is like a family reunion. Industry friends, like far-off aunts and uncles, come together each season in flurries of air kisses, superlative exclamations and champagne toasts.
It's not just a week of flashbulbs, seat assignments and pushy publicists, it's friends and frenemies coming together in celebration of an industry we all love and love to hate.
Now this reunion has a new home: Lincoln Center. At first I was both sad and skeptical about the relocation. The exodus from Bryant Park felt like when your parents sell your childhood home to move to Boca. Sure Boca is nicer, but don't they care about all those memories they're leaving behind?
I was as nervous as a student entering a new school on the first day of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week last Thursday. I'd learned the ins and outs of Bryant Park over six seasons and knew it like my own home.
Walking up the long pathway to the tents and seeing the security guards' familiar faces assuaged some of my anxiousness. Inside the main lobby was full of its usual buzz like the inside of a bee's nest, only there was more space, more light and as close to a sense of calm as high-drama fashion will allow.
Within two hours after seeing my first show (Richard Chai) and then heading to the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge, Bryant Park was already a quaint bygone memory.
I was impressed by the ease of the new Fashion GPS system that lets show attendees scan a printout invitation into a computer which spits out a little receipt with your seat assignment, just like checking into a JetBlue flight. That technological innovation has cleared up the moshpit that used to overtake the front lobby at Bryant Park as frazzled publicists checked off paper lists while also making it more difficult for crashers to ambush the shows and create overcrowding and havoc.
"Fashion should be about putting people in a good mood," Geoff Day, Director of Communications for Mercedes-Benz said from the Star Lounge, where celebrities and VIPs mingle pre- and post-show. "No buyer wants to feel pushed and shoved, the new space puts them in a better frame of mind."
It was hard not to feel comfortable and at ease, especially in the revamped Star Lounge which has been outfitted with décor from supermodel Iman's new home collection, including some private artwork from her own abode. Everything about the space, and Lincoln Center, feels larger and more welcoming.
With the democratization and explosion of fashion as a pop culture mainstay, it is a fitting move. "Things move on," Day said. "That's fashion by the way."