Survive Toronto Fashion Week
Get your stilettos ready, Fashion Week awaits
There’s no eating, no sleeping, and no time to breathe: Fashion Week (Toronto Fashion Week begins October 19 2009) is the pivotal time of the year and where next season’s looks are revealed (in Fall, Spring and Summer looks are revealed and in Spring, Fall and Winter looks come out). Fashion editors everywhere scribble notes about recurring trends and struggle to come up with new terms for old hat (what was “ethnic” last year is sure to be “world fashion” this year). Socialites and other personalities hover around the front row, hoping to see their names on the seats, knowing they’ll be photographed and talked about the next day in gossip columns. From New York to Paris to London, Fashion Week revolves around the thin, the rich, and the lucky. And it’s hell.
Marilisa Racco, a freelance fashion writer, is a Fashion Week veteran. She’s been to Toronto, Milan, London, and New York Fashion Weeks and she’s rubbed shoulders with Madonna, Demi Moore, Mischa Barton, Paris Hilton, Kanye West, Alexa Chung, and Daisy Lowe, courtesy of the congregation of chic.
Marilisa has tips on the busiest weeks of the year in the fashion industry. “In theory, it should be a pretty pleasant and laid back week,” she dishes. “But the reality is it's super hectic and you're always running around from show to show, fighting traffic, and your feet always hurt!”
If you’re just getting into the business or you’ve been extended an elusive invite to an important show, it’s integral you know how to navigate Fashion Week.
It’s probably your biggest challenge: being allowed into Fashion Week at all. Anyone can register for Toronto Fashion Week, but it will be costly if you’re paying for your own pass. The best way is to get a high-profile invite along with a sought-after front row seat. If you can’t swing that, then you’ll have to suck it up and buy a pass. If you’re a student, passes are discounted. Sometimes you can score an invite with a company that has registered passes or is a sponsor of a show. See if anyone you know is a sponsor before you dish out the fee.
Choose your wardrobe
Figuring out what to wear to a fashion event is challenging. Now, multiply that difficultly by five or six and factor in a few day-to-evening transitions (you’ll have to hit the after parties). Some photos of FW front rows suggest you can wear anything and get away with it. Not true! Even those leather bombers and skinny pants coupled with (what look like) ratty old shoes have been carefully selected and sorted through by stylists. Put thought into what you’re wearing and, when in doubt, keep it uncomplicated.
“The key to pulling off a great look is to keep everything relatively simple and splash out with something really outrageous, like a pair of killer heels or a really beautiful jacket,” says Marilisa. “Statement jewellery can make anything ordinary look really special.”
Luckily, slice.ca has a whack of information on making off-the-rack look like a million bucks, so check up the rest of our Style section for tips on looking subtly chic. Keep Marilisa’s comments in mind: your feet will hurt. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes or to bring comfortable shoes that match your outfit (you might have to pull them out at some point).
FW Newbies take note
There are rookie mistakes that are forgivable and those that will brand you the laughingstock of the fashion world. There are lots of bitches in the fashion world (come on, you’ve seen Ugly Betty), so task number one is stay away from them. I once overhead some of them talking about moi and they were standing right behind me. Remember to be nice because someday the person you’re gossiping about might have access to a national fashion column and you might be working for some fashion blog that will go under and need a job from said national fashion writer *cough, cough*.
Other than minding your manners, Marilisa reminds everyone to get to your shows on time (though they often start late). This is especially important if you want a good seat. On the topic of seats, people are very territorial, so don’t steal someone else’s.
If you have your eye on a front row seat and you aren’t assigned to sit there, you can probably forget it, unless some nice important person takes pity on you and lets you sit with him.
“Anything from the second row and back are fair game when the show is about to begin and the PR people are eager to fill seats,” says Marilisa.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you will have any kind of social life during FW if you intend on experiencing it fully. Your time will be spent running from show to show and you will barely have time to sleep let alone see your friends and family. Make sure you let everyone know that if they need to know how you’re doing, they should check your Twitter account. And try to take a day or two off after the week is over. Book a massage or some couch time. You’ll need it.
Last but not least: appreciate the fashion! That’s why you’re there and even though celebrity sightings, front row seats, and lavish gift bags are fun, supporting designers’ and their work is what it’s all about.
“There's little else that is as elating as seeing a really terrific collection,” Marilisa says, “It's the same feeling I get after watching a beautiful ballet.”
Written by: Nicolle Weeks