Feb 3rd 2013
A few years not too long ago I strolled into Alexander Wang’s fashion show acting as if I were somebody. In reality, I was a nervous wreck. Sweat drenching my upper eyelids, the brackish tear juice stinging my pupils, I evaporated under the steaming September sun. Or at least I wanted to.
To make things worse I sported glasses with my bright blue Marc Jacobs blazer, printed Liberty of London shirt, a floral bow tie, Oliver Peoples specs, tight Evisu jeans and wingtip Cole Haans. It could have looked sophisticated if only my lenses had not tragically fogged.
I realized that my options were limited: I could either walk around sans glasses—blind!—and risk mistaking Grace Coddington’s soft but fire-y cotton candy-like locks for a chic shredded sweater and, knowing me, try to wear it, or, meander throughout the venue with thick condensation on my lenses like a middle schooler who just experienced his first Seven Minutes In Heaven.
I chose the latter.
In retrospect, as I walked around the space located on one of New York’s piers I would realize that this would be my first encounter with the fashion tribe.
With their heavy furs, ostrich bags, python trenches, mohair pumps, and leather leggings they looked absolutely exotic. Fiercely other-worldly.
As I looked for my seat I could almost feel their sharp eyes darting toward my direction, these predators with their million dollar appetites salivating over their young, tender, dare I say juicy prey.
I was 22, a recent graduate from college who traded the smog and orange silicone-filled boobs of Hollywood for smog and pre-pubescent boobs on the runways of Manhattan. Callow, I’d thought I’d try this whole New York fashion thing out. If it didn’t work there was always law school, right?
And so here I was covering for a major publication in New York City as a complete nobody. An unknown. A fauxbody trying to succeed at my job let alone survive my first season.
But first things first—my seat. Was there like, an usher to assist me?
“Excuse me,” a voice boomed above me as I was still trying to find my seat–where was that damned seat?! Row 2—Where was Row 2?! I looked beside me to find no one there. Then looked up.
“Who are you?” he asked, smiling. “What are you wearing?”
I looked behind me then pointed at my chest and literally mouthed the words “me?”
“Yes, you,” he snapped, his voice reverberating.
“I’m uh, this is a Marc Jacobs blazer,” I replied, smiling.
“Well you are a fabulously dressed creature. Just fabulous,” he purred.
While finally finding my seat—which happened to be just to the left of me— I soaked in the tidal wave of Andre Leon Talley and let it drench my entire being.
‘Wait, did the Andre Leon Talley just say that I was a fabulously dressed creature?’ I basked.
I had always loved dressing up but didn’t realize that I actually loved fashion until I stepped foot into the Big Apple. In fact, I must admit I had been a little insecure about fashion as a whole mainly because of the disapproval I’d receive from friends and family members who would comment that my hair was too short in some parts, too long in other, jeans too tight, printed shirts too flamboyant.
I was always too much of this, too little of that. Never completely right.
But Andre changed all that. He washed all of my sartorial fears away.
I never felt more confident in my life, and as silly as it was—a simple compliment—went a long way. And for the first time ever it was an affirmation that I was accepted somewhere and that maybe this fashion thing was something that I was meant to do all along.
That day was my initiation into the fashion tribe. And even if it was just for a small moment–as ephemeral as it was–I had passed.
If Andre Leon Talley, one of the high priests of this tribe thought I was worthy, maybe–just maybe–I could believe that as well.