The fashion industry is a bit of a mystery to me. In my teens, I was a sporty book nerd, a baby dyke and, put bluntly, I was never going to be a catwalk model.
Though some clothing companies are now attempting to be inclusive with their ad campaigns, the media in general bombards us with images of a certain way to look and dress.
That image is rarely of a five foot four inch tall size 14, short sighted lesbian wearing comfortable shoes.
Learning on the inside
During my New York trips I stay with a friend who ‘works in fashion’; to be precise she’s a freelance stylist.
This past fortnight, I’ve had the opportunity to get a real insight into its day-to-day business and it has been fascinating.
Despite knowing Sabine 35 years, I’d not seen her in professional action. Really, who of us has seen their friends at their place of work? Aside from friends made at work, certainly not me.
I’d chatted with Sabine at home as she worked at her sewing machine, but here was a chance for a unique insight into my friend’s life.
I was pretty impressed by what I saw.
During my stay she was finishing up some paper dresses she created for a shoot with hairstylists.
I got the chance to jump in a cab to help take the creations to the venue for a weekend hair fashion show/shoot in the Meat Packing District of Manhattan.
As an aside, this NYC district MUST be the epitome of gentrification. With new galleries, warehouse apartments and designer stores sprouting up, the area bears little resemblance to the haunt favoured by the queer leather/SM scene from the 1970’s.
Today, there was no leather on display. In a brightly lit space I watched paper frocks matched with models.
It was amazing to see the outfits Sabine worked on in her apartment transformed from simple sheets of paper to eye catching fashion on the models. They were catwalk ready.
Shop Shop Shop
The following week she was working on prep for a shoot in California. She had a budget and a brief. In short, more than thirty models of various ages and sizes needed a choice of tennis and swimwear clothing
We were off shopping.
Well, to be fair to Sabine as well as transparent to US immigration, I wasn’t actually shopping. I was spectating, bag carrying and generally keeping her company.
I’d had enough of standard tourism and relished this opportunity for a glimpse of a different side of the Big Apple. I was stepping inside offices and warehouses and discovering stores that sold strapless panties rather than gazing at art in galleries and museums.
And what fun I had keeping my friend company as she scoured Manhattan for swimsuits and tennis tops. I hung on to ever increasing numbers of bags from Macy’s, Nike and endless other stores.
It was a search that saw us criss cross Manhattan, checking out designer sports stores, small tennis outfits and getting close up to latest lines of pretty cool designer swimwear.
I couldn’t resist trying on some items that weren’t on Sabine’s shopping list.
When 8 hrs shopping on the streets was over, Sabine sat at her laptop at home continuing her search online.
Fashion, turn to the left
I don’t understand the attraction of ripped jeans. I wouldn’t pay big bucks for a pair of Choo shoes but thanks to my recent experiences I’ve big respect for stylists and their ability to hone in on items that match the spec demanded by clients.
Sabine can find herself being pushed and pulled in different directions by client, photographer and other parties involved in a shoot.
I have now seen first hand how my friend keeps her eye on the goal (while still making me breakfast every day!).
Looking good Sabine, looking good.