My First Fashion Show- a Straight Man’s Perspective

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My first fashion show. By Tank.

I usually show up at Fashion Week with my bag in my hand. This year, during Nolcha Fashion Week, I decided to include another piece to my arm candy: my boyfriend. I brought him to my must-have show of the season, Nolcha Fashion Week. The people at Nolcha were the very first to invite me to a fashion show, so I always attend their shows to support independent designers, and because well, they’re just a ton of fun! This time around we went to the “Ones to Watch” collective runway show, which ended in the fun “Project Subway.” Read more to find out!

I found myself tucked away in a far off corner of Chelsea, where construction workers and half-built buildings mix in with rainbow flags and organic coffee shops. I was walking towards my first fashion show on 21st street, shuffling down a nearly deserted block between 10th and 11th avenue. The street was littered with fashionable women who had stopped to change their flats for high heels, and Instagram a selfie before the show. I immediately felt underdressed.

We walked into a long rectangular space with exposed brick walls and ceiling lights. The room was meant to house industrial products or hang slabs of meat, and yet modelesque-looking women were frolicking about with tiny purses tucked neatly by their side. A tiny man in rainbow pants breezed through the doorway, catching a model’s attention. Another small man in a gold colored hat and a snakeskin vest called the attention of his friends near the entrance. This was it, I thought; Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory does exist.

Nolcha DesignerB’VENAJ Designs | Gregory Apparel | Oiselle | JBurgos | Charles & Ron

Of course this was my own voice of ignorance jabbering inside my head, attempting to make sense of a world I did not know. But what does it mean to be fashionable, then? I had no clue, and no time to explore this notion on my own, as my girlfriend whisked me through the vibrant crowd of tall, thin girls and colorful old men, past the young teenagers dressed in black with headsets, and the emotionless bartenders. We made our way to the red carpet and did our best celebrity impressions for our own Iphones. Two seconds later the lights dimmed. The show was about to start.

I learned quickly that getting ready for a runway show as an audience was much different then preparing for the start of a concert, or a baseball game. There was no national anthem, or warm up act; the music started and we took our seats. Models immediately began walking onto the runway, their thin limbs kicked and flared off their gaunt bodies. I was slightly turned off by their appearance; each face was taut and white like a ghost on the Atkins diet. The dresses clung to their bodies, shaking as they walked and turned, walked and turned. As the music blared the march of thin frames continued, each face less interested than the one before. What was each model trying to bring to the design, I wondered. The crowd seemed amused, so I figured I was missing the point.

Before I knew it, six designers had shuffled their models down the stage. People were checking their phones now, complimentary waters were being finished. A voice came over the loud speaker without introduction, hiding behind the veil like Oz to announce the final show: “And now, Project Subway!”


The Subway logo suddenly appeared on screen and the lights got slightly dimmer. Tribal drums started through the speakers as the logo switched over to a colorful red tomato. Out walked a woman dressed in a shiny red dress, attempting to mimic the appearance of a tomato. This trend continued, and soon each vegetable offered by Subway made an appearance. Spinach downed leaves near her breasts. A carrot came out in an orange heels and a green skirt. The onion wore a large purple hat with white swirls and a white veil. As I watched the veggies work the runway I began to get hungry. I looked up at the Subway logo and thought about a foot long turkey sandwich covered in chipotle sauce.The crowd seemed as satisfied as I was with the flagrant act of marketing, welcoming with opening arms the strange arrangement of fast food and high fashion. The veggie models were soon lined up and a panel of “fashion experts” took to the stage. The panel included basketball star Russell Westbrook, actress Bella Thorne and olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin.

Russell Westbrook started the discussion. “I think you ladies did really well,” he said. “Especially the tomato.” The crowd sat in silence, anxiously awaiting his reasoning behind the tomato pick. “It was shiny and very red, like a tomato.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Nolcha3Onion, spinach, and tomato. Onion was the winner of this season’s Project Subway, and the designer took home some green: $1,000!

The next words of wisdom shifted to a pretty blonde in high heels. “Hi I’m Bella Thorne. Actress. I appreciated the onion, especially the purple skirt. So cute.” Bella elaborated into an intricate discussion on office wear and soon my mind wandered away, into a safe haven of male appetites, football statistics, deli meats and naked models. Somehow, the detailed conversation on woman’s fashion triggered this mental relapse, as if my mind was trying to save me from something harmful.

Next thing I knew the show was over. I found myself back on 21st street, crowded near an ambush of limousines and tall, threatening security figures. The day was still young and yet I felt thoroughly amused, confused and enlightened. I grabbed a cab before the girls could take off their heels, and headed back Uptown.

Nolcha2My fave designer of the show was Dolly Donshey, and her fabulous headpieces, Monstruosité

All photos (except for the crappy one of my BF taken with my phone) courtesy of Nolcha Fashion Week.

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