How I Successfully Crashed New York Fashion Week Shows

For a few minutes, as models strut down the runway in the season's most glamorous creations, a fashion show becomes a scene of breathtaking perfection. But those who call Fashion Week work will tell you that the lead-up and aftermath can be chaotic, mundane, and downright absurd. We've asked industry pros, from a front-row photographer to a fashion house intern, exactly what the week is like for them.Here, a former fashion editor details the NYFW day she spent as a crasher. 

NYFW Crasher
Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty

If you’re reading this, it’s too late. I already “crashed” Fashion Week—but not in the way you think.

On Sunday, I spent the day attending the festivities, even though I didn’t have a single ticket or RSVP to my name. The idea was that I’d try to experience one of fashion’s biggest events as the everyday person trying to attend. While it was difficult (see below for all the #struggles that went down), this ex-fashion gal did manage to get her fix in the end—both from seeing runway collections and the plethora of street style.

When entering different shows and presentations, I found that NYFW really is just as exclusive as one would think. Even if you’re the best-dressed person in the room, the doormen simply do not care. Their one job is to let ticket holders in and keep crashers out. That’s why it’s important to find events with extra “standing room” and consider open-to-the-public runway shows when spontaneously attending at the last minute.

Read on to see my hour-by-hour account of how it all went down.

8:00 a.m.: After hopping out of bed, I immediately looked for an outfit that felt cool but easy—my usual fashion philosophy—and settled on my favorite oversized denim jacket. I paired it with a basic silk tank and a denim mini for a full-on Canadian tux effect (street-style gold). I finished the look with black satin Zvelle mules, a chunky statement necklace-choker combo, Vera Wang sunglasses, and a faux fur clutch from Skinny Dip London. I was ready.

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Courtesy of Anna Hecht

9:00 a.m. Once I sussed out my outfit and threw my hair into a half-up ‘do, it was time to finalize my game plan for the day. Sitting down at my computer, I glanced through the NYFW schedule and realized Victoria Beckham’s show—although a long shot in terms of getting in—was happening near my apartment at 10 a.m. After giving it some thought (aka realizing David Beckham could end up making an appearance), I decided it may be worth finding out whether there was extra standing room available for last-minute attendees. By 9:35 a.m., I was out the door with an RXbar as my source of on-the-go clean eating since I’d run out of time for a sit-down breakfast before the show. (Pro-tip for NYFW: keep healthy snacks on-hand at all times.)

10:00 a.m. Just as I predicted, gaining entrance into the VB show was virtually impossible since it was at full capacity. Nevertheless, I’d known it was a lofty ambition and still enjoyed seeing the street style looks coming down Broadway in Manhattan’s Financial District as attendees made their way to the venue. Fashion industry professionals, including Eva Chen and InStyle’s own Ruthie Friedlander, arrived in chic styles as a crowd of paparazzi snapped photos. After saying hello to a few of my former colleagues, I left wondering if I should have agreed to this challenging task—but I wasn’t willing to give up just yet. Hopping on the A train, I made my way uptown to the Skyline Clarkson Square in SoHo, where many shows were being held.

11:00 a.m. Having just arrived at Skyline Clarkson Square, I walked the perimeter of the building to the other side where the main entrance was located. Once there, the guards said a badge was required for anyone who wanted to gain entrance to NYFW. They must have noticed my unsettled reaction (and bubbling urge to announce that I was, indeed, “with the media!”) because they followed up with reassurance that some shows did have standby room for last-minute guests. With that, I thanked them and walked off to get lunch. My plan was to return at 1 p.m. and attempt the standby line for Vivienne Tam’s Spring 2018 show.

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Courtesy of Anna Hecht

12:00 p.m. Feeling famished from having only eaten that RXbar, I was ready for a filling meal before my soon-to-be busy afternoon. Regardless of where I ended up having lunch, I was mostly concerned with whether they served coffee (fashion is exhausting). Walking east on Houston Street, I came across a café called Chalait. Peering inside, everything was all-white with plants everywhere (aka Instagram heaven). So, I went in and ordered their fanciest PB&J and a large almond milk latté.

1:00 p.m. Arriving back at the Skylight venue, I went straight to the door to ask about these alleged “standing lines” that the guards had mentioned earlier. Luckily, there was one forming and I slipped into it just minutes before being ushered into Vivienne Tam’s show. Inside, hundreds were already seated and loud music played as even more filtered into the dark room prior to show time. I walked the aisle down to where standby attendees were supposed to stand and overheard someone say this show wasn’t sold out, meaning open seats remained. Quickly, I ducked the line and grabbed a seat in the second row. Score!

4:00 p.m. Again, in an attempt to see at least one more Sunday presentation, I scoured the NYFW schedule and landed on an open-to-the-public show, Joobi. Success again! Though the presentation was much smaller than others I’d seen that day, it was no less impressive. Models stood in formation wearing flowing dresses, with bold eye shadow, sallow foundation, and disheveled hair, like beautiful haunted brides.

VIDEO: Watch Our Runway Recap of NYFW

6:00 p.m. I successfully attending the Vogue x Free People NYFW presentation, located on the roof of Spring Studios (another popular venue), by chance encounter. The idea with this event was that editors and fashion industry professionals could come and try on Free People’s latest outerwear collection. A whole host of stylish attendees arrived and sipped cocktails as they took photos wearing the latest coats and jackets from the brand’s new Coat Check line.

7:00 p.m. I made my way home for a quick dinner before heading off to my final conquest of the evening.

9:00 p.m. To end the jam-packed day, I headed over to see Danny Nguyen’s runway collection, hosted by Art Hearts Fashion at The Angel Orensanz Foundation. I had no trouble gaining access since there was little to no security outside. All in all, a Fashion Week win!

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