04/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated 5 days ago

The Hidden Lounges of Bryant Park

There are many layers to the Tents, hidden corridors and shrouds of security. A press pass gets you into the tents themselves -- the lobby mainly -- it helps navigate the gaggle of onlookers and makes you official in the eyes of the sentinels. Yet to get into a show, you need an invitation to go into one of three tents. Past the PR tables there are yet more guards, to separate the people with seats and those in standing. They're relegated to a cold fountain and have a fan blowing on them -fashion purgatory. Varied PR companies dole out the access - the hotter the show - the harder to get a ticket.

Amex donates $250,000 to the CFDA to have a skybox in Bryant Park and members love it. Gold members can experience Fashion Week from the perch of a discrete inset, starting at $150 a show. They don't have to go through the may hoops and ladders of the media folk. I've been fascinated by the skybox for ages and I'm happy to have finally sorted out -- another veil of mystery to Bryant Park.


(the front of the Skybox at Dennis Basso)

After Max Azria was over, Tim Gunn came to the box to share some stories with the very interested group of twenty onlookers. Did you know there were 100 models for the Project Runway show? He talks about his time at Parsons and the backlash he experienced, when he reinvented the program that, gave us The Vena Cava girls, Jason Wu and Proenza Schouler. He also mentions that he wanted to catch up with Daniel Vosovic at his presentation. Tim is also promoting his new book about etiquette, Gunns Golden Rules; Life's Little Secrets to Making it Work, try saying that fast three times. I'm looking forward to it. The box has nice sandwiches and real coffee unlike the Starbucks drivel we're served in the lobby. Patrick McMullan's book In Tents accents the room for the crowd.

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(Tim Gunn talks about his new book and the inside of the skybox during Max Azria)

They keep the celebrities in the W Hotel Lounge; they have the best Pop Burgers and great champagne -- it's awesome. But way harder to get to. Crumbs cupcakes and real coffee abound. Over the seasons every celebrity that comes to the shows, somehow finds their way here, to rest, before the crazy flash of cameras that blind them. Not surprisingly, the media folk and fancy crowd get a bit loud at W. I overhear a story about fancy PR mavens and naughty things at parties (sorry, not telling you, that'll be for Page Six to do). The W Lounge is harder to get into. I have to text a PR person to let me in, the guardian is quite mean, with a puffed up face, like a dragon, scowling. It's cold. His breath is a smoke stack. I runaway - if I can't get in.


(The W Lounge [yes, it's not my best photo])

Finally there's the Mercedes-Benz Lounge geared for the fanciest of the fanciest. I feel like I'm trespassing in a sacred place. Maybe the heart of the tents themselves. I'm slipped an interesting report, where they mention value and the new need to provide experience for the customer and service. Mercedes-Benz has pondered their association with Fashion Week very carefully and understands that the perception of the tents and the cultural association quite strong.

These aren't my best pictures. All these lounges have quite dark ambient lighting.