HOW TO GET INVITED TO A NEW YORK FASHION SHOW
Related Articles: New! Volunteering for the 7th on Sixth Shows and Citadel Security The "Gatekeepers" of the New York Shows.
We all know that with hard deceptive work and a good dose of moxie it's possible to get over on the world, at least temporarily. A past Sunday New York Times The City section article "No Invitation? No Problem!" reveals a whole industry of such hard workers where gatecrashing is an art you can learn in a course at The Learning Annex (how New Age to offer a curriculum ranging from gatecrashing to Deepak Chopra, everything you need for this life and after) . I almost admire this kind of cleverness and drive as long as it is motivated by some true purpose: true purpose may be to serve your own career but it should also contribute something to the industry. The career gate crashers are disturbing when they only take and never give back, there for themselves and not the industry.
Ultimately it is our works that carry us through and if your work does not legitimately give you reason to be there then you are taking the place of someone who does. But that's the rub. BUT, hook up with the right guardian angels and you may find yourself in some pretty magical places.
GET A JOB
It sounds silly but the first step is to get a job. Any kind of job. Whatever area of the fashion business you are interested in, find work as close to that dream as possible. Do not limit yourself in what you do. Persevere. Work in the industry is a foot in the door. And with that foot in the door you meet people, make connections, learn about the business, discover mentors, hear about other job opportunities -- even get invitations to fashion shows and parties. Andre Leon Talley started his career sweeping the floors of Andy Warhol's Interview offices. Marc Jacobs worked at Charivari while attending high school. Anna Wintour assisted Carrie Donovan at Harper's Bazaar.
If you can, find a company with growth potential. A low level job can turn into a high level career with that same company.
Find out what's going on. The bible of all bibles in the fashion world is Fashion Calendar (212-289-0420 or Fashioncalendar.net). Any event worth its weight will be listed on Fashion Calendar with contact names and numbers. If you have a chunk of change to spare ($452) you can subscribe to this venerable bi-weekly publication.
Many events will be by invitation only. No invitation, no access. If you are a legitimate member of the press you can request coverage of the event but this may also be limited to amount of press and to where you can go. Legitimate means your work, writings, photos, video footage, appear regularly in a venue or several venues. It could be your own venue. If you are an employee of standing either in the retail, magazine, internet, or television worlds, you may get an invitation but even this is no guarantee depending on space. If you are not "important" enough to be invited check with your fellow workers, your boss or your network of connections for an extra invitation.
The good news is often times, especially at fashion shows, arriving early with an invitation can get you in. Be warned however, the more well known designers may also have a list of names at the door. Sometimes they can even check for I.D. If you are not on the list you are not in the door, invitation or not. As a last resort you can go to the event. Extra invitations are hard to come by, you may even risk a reputation as a gatecrasher but it is a good way to meet people in the industry. You might, during fashion week, find free passes to parties being held at clubs around town. This is the beginning of your networking.
Also during fashion week there is sometimes standing room access if you are willing to wait in line for everyone else with invitations to be let in first and take the chance there is room left over. Many times you would be surprised how many big shows you can get into if you are willing to just make the effort and show up! And finally, if you can spend an entire week at the shows you can try becoming a volunteer with 7thonsixth. They recruit quite a number of volunteers to help run the shows.
Fortunately or unfortunately connections count for a lot in any world and especially the world of fashion. Make a powerful enough network for yourself however and it can even compensate a lack of talent. If you are not the daughter, son, niece, nephew, friend, then you must make your own connections. If you are considering school attend a school in Manhattan, the capitol of American fashion. Go out. Go to clubs, art openings, hot restaurants (even just for a drink at the bar), parties, fashion shows, any industry functions you can get into. Meet people. Get yourself on mailing lists. Be seen enough and there are those who will invite you because they want you to be seen with them. Of course you must look fabulous, fabulous enough to stand out from the crowd. Make a statement; a fashion statement followed up with sincere hard work. It is the only true path to making your mark in this business.
- by Laurie Schechter
(This article was first published on Lookonline in 1999)
Or buy tickets to the Courture Fashion Show which coincides with Fashion Week.