Revisiting New York Fashion Week
~ Returning to The Catwalk ~
By Dr. Marchette Lockette-Smith
Copa Style Magazine Events Correspondent
I resided in New York City for fifteen years. It is a city you love or hate; there is no in-between. The fashion lover that I am, it was a perfect place for me. My husband and I lived in midtown Manhattan. Two of the condominiums in our building were under contract by modeling agencies and utilized to house models throughout the year. In addition, supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio owned one of the three penthouses in the building.
Each February and September, the sidewalks turned into runways as the fashion capital readied itself for fashion week. I scored fashion week invitations for nine of my fifteen years in residence. I recall sitting inside a tent in Bryant Park, waiting on the runway to dim, while watching Beyonce and Solange. I have been seated directly behind Anna Wintour, the cutthroat editor-in-Chief of Vogue. I have crossed paths with LaLa Anthony, Sharon Stone, Nicole Kidman, Rita Ora, Babyface, and Megan Fox while getting pre-show cocktails. Now a Maryland resident, it is difficult to believe that I will soon be back in the city that never sleeps, walking the runway for Randhawa Brands. The shows will take place on Friday the 10th (11 am and 5 pm) and Saturday the 11th. The venue for all three shows is Gotham Hall.
As I write this article, I am sure that NYC is currently in a blaze. Designers are arriving on private planes; hotels have limited to no vacancies, and tourists are gawking as fall/winter fashion week 2023 kicks off. It is a little-known fact that Eleanor Lambert created fashion week in 1943. At that time, Lambert was the press director of the New York Dress Institute. The event was initially known as "press week." Lambert created "press week" to attract attention away from French fashion during World War II when fashion industry insiders could not travel to Paris to see French fashion shows. The event also highlighted American designers for fashion journalists who had ignored U.S. fashion innovations.
Over time "Press Week" morphed into what is now known as Fashion Week (NYFW). An event that exceeds logic arouses fantasy and inspires shows worldwide. Fashion enthusiasts can enjoy performances featuring urban chic, fast fashion, ready-to-wear fashion, luxury fashion, and haute couture. The most famous fashion shows are held in NYC, followed by London, Milan, and Paris. Fashion industry insiders fondly refer to the shows, and their locations, as the big four. Fashion houses, bloggers, celebrities, influencers, and magazine editors flock to fashion week. I, too, shall be traveling to the city, this time representing the talented designer Amna Inam and providing event coverage for COPA Style magazine (CopaStyle.com)
Speaking of coverage, I have recently become aware of PLITZS, a New York-based Fashion Production Marketing Company that brings emerging fashion designers and undiscovered models together. PLITZS hosts a series of open calls for designers and models. Those who perform well are selected to compete for the title "The New York Fashion Week Model of the Year." The competition features eight modeling categories, catering to participants aged thirteen to fifty-seven. This year the competition will be held on Saturday, February 11th, at Caelum Gallery, located in the NYC Gallery District. Tickets range in price from forty to ninety-five dollars and can be purchased online or in person. Shows will run throughout the day, and eight winners will be selected. Winners receive a prize package, which includes set monetary amounts, continued public relations representation, and the opportunity to work with one of the designers featured in the show.
While conducting research for this piece, I was blessed with the distinct pleasure of meeting Basil Lucas, one of the models selected to compete in the show. He is delighted to be a featured model in the fast-approaching competition. Basil is an immigrant whose family moved from Guyana to the U.S. in 1984. He reflects on his childhood, "When I was a boy, I had three pairs of shoes. My siblings and I received a pair for school, a pair for church, and a pair for play. Hand-me-downs were all the rage. Children wore uniforms to school. There was never an opportunity to express one's individuality. I vowed that when I grew up, I would have a pair of shoes and a pair of pants in every color, and I would never want clothing variety again."
When his family relocated to New Jersey, he recalls being captivated by Madonna, Michael Jackson, Ricky Martin, Cyndi Lauper, and Run DMC. He became an avid MTV viewer. Basil attended Rutgers University, where he earned several degrees. Yet, he never relinquished his focus on fashion. When asked how he expressed his creativity while maintaining his grades, he responded, "I understood that I had to complete my education to find a suitable job. Yet, I never missed a college fashion show. Not having much money, I designed and made many of my clothes. My inner fashionista came alive. I purchased brooches, velvet boots, and other unique items. I wore skinny jeans and jackets with rolled-up sleeves long before they were fashionable. I was a trendsetter and didn't even know it. On the weekends, I would go to NYC and hang out with the club kids. I had known that I wanted to model for a while. I had composite cards made and started looking for work as a commercial or trade model. I didn't get much support from friends or family, so I gave up. I graduated and began working in the nonprofit industry. Then I saw an advertisement for The New York Fashion Week Model of the Year competition; the rest is history. This competition is my second chance to become known in the fashion industry, and I am taking it."
Lucas and I will walk in one of the most prominent fashion weeks worldwide. When not consumed by the shows, I encourage people to shop. Fashion week is magical, encouraging all to bring their A-game. Select stores from Fifth Avenue to SoHo will have excellent deals and amazing new collections. Certain high-end brands and boutiques will throw parties open to the public with drinks, disc jockeys, and giveaways. For adventurous souls, a few spots tend to draw fashionable crowds; those arenas include The Top of The Standard (a.k.a. The Boom Boom Room); The Blond; Paul's Casablanca; and The Playboy Club. @basilucas. Facebook: Lucas Yaw Basil.