Inside the Big White Tent

February 22nd, 2009 § 1 comment

While I can’t really say I love my job, I do appreciate my co-worker with whom I share a small part of her photo studio. An additional member to the art department, or “creative services,” I am a somewhat odd fit at times among the other fashionable girls who sit in their cubicles and in front of their new Mac’s all day long. I used to joke when I first arrived that they put the less fashion forward employees in the dark photo studio to do their work. A veteran illustrator has an office behind me, though he travels and lectures more than he sits in it, leaving the photographer for company, and my days at work usually pass uneventfully and without the usual work stresses—npr, the constant background to our sporadic conversations, tends to aggravate me more than my job.

Outside our building, located in the heart of the fashion district, is a gold plaque—like the sidewalk stars in Hollywood—of Oscar de la Renta. Talking with a friend of a friend the other night, a graduated fashion designer, I discovered that the company I work for is an important one, and that the books we have been working on these past months are an expensive and treasured resource—who knew? The upstairs of the company looks different from our department, where fabric samples and trend storyboards are propped against the walls. The “second floor,” in office lingo, resembles a scene from The Devil Wears Prada, rolling racks of vendor samples line the walls, and the “assistants,” regular faces in the photo studio, remind me of the movie as well—they are pretty, efficient, and obsessed with fashion.

bryant park

The frantic nature of the second floor rarely trickles down to our department, but at times the perks they enjoy do. My co-worker is the first to know when there is a “give away,” where I have acquired the Fossil a decent number of shirts and myself a pair of bright red pajama pants. This past week they brought the photographer several days worth of tickets for fashion week, in the hope that she could find time to venture out to Bryant Park and photograph the people attending. Passing along the unused tickets to me, she said, “take a long lunch,” and in her usual style she called editorial, asking if she could give me the tickets. In the style of the company they not only said yes, but made sure to tell me who I should pretend to be for the show I was planning to catch. It was a great Friday to be given a rather expensive ticket to a rather exclusive event, and to be paid to do so.

fashion week

Thanks to Project Runway, I had quite a few preconceived notions about what the show would be like, and the invite seemed to fulfill them all—a jet black piece of mat board on which was printed, in black lettering, the time, date, and designer. Inside the tent, I found it both less impressive and more impressive than I had thought; it was less like watching a movie or tv show, and more like going to see a play. They created drama out of a simple set, two wings and a runway, and they created an atmosphere of luxury out of a large white tent that looked less than chic. The show had more charm than a red carpet event, though I am not sure where else so many flashes might go off, and the Japanese designer, Tadashi, seemed touched with a small bit of humility as he trailed out at the end after his models. The clothes probably looked better than they ever will again, under the bright lights and on the lanky bodies of the runway models.

runway show 1

Stripped of the cultural associations we have with Bryant Park and fashion week, however, I wondered how ridiculous the event might seem; would we be impressed by the models or want to shout out for them to eat? Would the clothes really seem like pieces of great design or just more pretty dresses we don’t need? I was impressed that the show captured, for perhaps ten entrancing minutes, all that the glossy pages of Vogue and Elle seem to represent. Lifting the plastic from the runway like a wedding train, as the colored lights dimmed and the music began to pulse through the tent, I thought, at least they are delivering their promise of beauty, fashion, and elegance. As the show ended and the plastic was hastily returned, I felt a bit like Scout shaking her head in the Radley front yard. What did I just see?

runway show

§ One Response to Inside the Big White Tent

  • Pjuan says:

    Mary is fabulous! I loved how she read about Jeanne Moreau reidnagrg age. Also Mary accessorizing with some purple and green to her black coat, making it less “funerial”…LOL! Loved it!At 57 I don’t think of myself as old [in that negative, dreaded sense] however of course I’m a realist and know I don’t look like the hot babe I was in my 20s and 30s.Oddly though, I met with a new internist (a kidlet, just out of medical school) and he went on and on about how “you cannot be 57!!…..you’re not that OLD!!!!”. He thought I looked about 40 – big deal. The young doc wasn’t just rude but he was condescending in thinking he’s somehow flattering me. I know already that I look very nice for my age – I’ve taken consistently good care of my skin, know how to apply the right makeup, wear good clothes in colors that flatter me, know to wear the right jewelry to accessorize. And also, fragrances[used sparingly] are an important accessory. Also, I’m not underweight, which can age a woman’s appearance once she’s over 40.Oh and Happy Hannukah, Ari [I’m not sure why, but only until now, did I take a full look at your complete name! I had previously been under the impression you were Greek…ie. Aristotle. LOL – I’ll concede my eyes are aging, and not in a good way! ;-)]~ Susan

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