“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” Coco Chanel
Let’s get real about our bodies ladies and how we try to hide them with “fashion”
I don’t have a career, I had one until I had kids. Now I gig, meaning I work jobs. A snooty way to put it would be I’m a contractor or consultant depending upon the industry. Last month’s gig was in fashion. September is the kickoff of the Spring fashion shows in New York. It is the month when fashion designer’s show their seasons newly inspired creations in Bryant Park. Tents, filled with editors, stylists, designers, celebrities and socialites watch striking androgynous models prance the catwalk displaying the next ridiculously expensive couture clothing that few can buy but many can rip off, think Target.
A few years back, while gigging at a wedding (floral), I met a woman in who lived in Manhattan and worked in fashion. How exciting, we hit it off immediately. My mind envisioned her in a glamorous position surrounded by creative people, in a glass office on the 67th floor of some brand empire overlooking the Hudson River. Wrong, there’s an ugly side to fashion and it’s called wholesale, hence trade shows.
My friend Andrea is the manager of a multi-label showroom which represents 12 designers. One day she called me and asked if I would work for her selling a line or two during market week (industry lingo meaning trade shows.) I didn’t sell, clothes I bought them and I didn’t have any experience which I told her. She said “Mary, you can sell anything come to New York for a quick training,” so I did. My love of fashion was killed that week. By the end of my first show, I wanted to vomit patterns. Now I Megabus, train, and taxi, suitcases and bags in hand and schlep to work about three or for shows a year. It is hard work, labour, and that’s just getting there. It’s not first class. Let the crazy begin!
Scenario: New York City, the Jacob Javits Convention Center, “The” Coterie show. The Coterie show is one of the largest trade shows on the circuit for both buyers and sellers. Designers’ wares are on displays in mini-booths trying to look like boutiques. Thousands of buyers come worldwide for three days to pursue the droves of aisles to see the next seasonal trend. It’s huge, loud, chaotic pandemonium. My face muscles get a great workout from all the smiling I do, check my crows feet. It’s long days of people rushing around interacting. Anyone in the industry longer that three years, I think it’s safe to say, doesn’t look forward to this event, buyer or seller.
Location is everything especially at the massive Javits center. I want to be near the bathroom or food line because they’re both long, really really long. It can get ugly. Welcome to the glamorous industry of fashion. Usually there are a few shows going on at the same time, Coterie, Moda, Stitch and Atelier. I never know which show I’m working until I get there. Now “Coterie” has been Queen for many years. Everyone wants to work it, but me. It’s all about ego.
This year I lucked out. I worked the Atelier Show which is held at the Doubletree Hotel (YES! Not the drafty Javits) in Times Square! You show your line/s in a hotel room with a bathroom, refrigerator and a couch! Oh the luxury! Some noses turn up at The Atelier show because it is smaller, usually with brands unknown to Americans… you know, like top-notch European labels (duh). I let them have their opinions because I’d like to keep Atelier just the way it is – egoless, intimate, sane with enjoyably long days.
Usually there are skinny girls in cat suits dressing and undressing the lines so the buyers can see how it looks on a person. The sample lines are always XS or small. This year, I was the skinny girl and I’m not skinny. I’m not fat, I’m medium or large depending on the designer. FYI, Europeans cut small. I thought OH NO, there is no way I’m going to fit into the samples. I was relieved even jovial when I was assigned to work with Matti Mamone, a contemporary/lifestyle Israeli company. Yea! I might fit into some of the pieces, which I did! It’s showtime Mary. On and off, on and off, “can I see that again?” all day long, in platform shoes.
Putting on sample size clothing in front of buyers sitting on couches when you’re not a sample size is… comical in my head. Like a smiling robot I found myself repeatedly saying, “This is a sample size, I’m not,” then with lightening speed I’d hand them a look book (more lingo for catalogue) with a model in the same garment, while I continually walk and pose keeping the motion going. You can’t hit a moving target!
The God’s honest truth is the buyers response was supreme. Why? Because I am your client. As much as fashion magazines and other media tells women they should be a size four, we’re not! Matti Mamone sizes from small S to XXL, smart. I wrote a lot orders for M-L-XL. Smalls too but the point is clients were buying the larger sizes. My sales were fantastic. The success of the line is because it is designed for real sized women, flaws and all! I don’t have many, JK- just kidding.
What I thought would be a mortifying few days work was the opposite. I will go as far as to say I felt pretty, even in the sample sizes. Ugly was in my head, reality was in the bank, not mine, but I got paid. Until the next show, your life is a catwalk, walk it.