Nicole Miller Fall 2010

At the Salon, Bryant Park, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, on Friday, February 12.

First, I feel the need to acknowledge the absurdity of my writing about a fashion show. I go to absurd lengths to avoid shopping, I don’t read women’s magazines, and I consciously dress not to stand out but to blend in. When left to my own devices, I wear nothing but camisoles and yoga pants at home; V-necks, knee-length A-line skirts, tights, and boots to work; and long-sleeve Ts and jeans on the weekend. I am the anti–fashion plate.

But for the record, that’s not because I’m anti-fashion. I consider it way too extroverted a pursuit for a shy introvert like me, but especially since I moved to New York, working in a building just off Fifth Avenue, I’ve found the fashion industry hard to avoid, and I’ve developed an interest in it despite myself. So when Sean was offered two tickets to a New York Fashion Week runway show, I leaped at the opportunity to go. I mean, really: the tents at Bryant Park! How cool is that?

We arrived about ten minutes before Nicole Miller’s show was scheduled to begin, but it didn’t actually start until nearly an hour later, so we had plenty of time to people-watch, which is part of the fun. Photographers prowl up and down the front row, where the famous and semi-famous sit: the important fashion editors, the starlets, the socialites, the New York celebrities, the wives and girlfriends of the famous and semi-famous. At the show we attended, there was a small explosion of flashes on the opposite side of the room that seemed a bit excessive. We later learned that Howard Stern’s current wife and the mom from Gossip Girl accidentally showed up wearing the same dress, and their self-deprecating poses together had to be thoroughly documented for posterity, so there you go.

Finally, the show started. Miller used a very dark palette this year—lots of black and deep olive and ash—and each model wore a black knit cap on her head, so the collection as a whole had a somewhat somber, against-the-elements vibe. It never became dour, though; the detailing was too lively and intricate for that. One jacket I particularly liked had twist pleats up the back, and the various little dresses featured countless tiny little folds and diagonal seams and patterned insets that somehow cohered into striking—and flattering—asymmetry. No doubt you’d have to be quite thin to pull them off, but on the models, at least, the form-fitting dresses looked amazing—like a more intriguing take on the currently ubiquitous bandage dress.

Besides the clothing itself, it was fun to watch the models. In the photos, the difference they make isn’t apparent—at least to me—but in person, a good model, gliding down the runway with shoulders thrown back, could make me really notice the garment and remember it, while a not-so-good one with a lurching, robotic walk was a major distraction. (There were only two or three different types of shoes on Miller’s runway, so that really can’t be an excuse for the little robot girls. I don’t know what was going on there.)

Once the show actually started, it was over in less than ten minutes: the models took one final march down the runway, the designer appeared for a quick wave, and then the lights came on and the front-row editors bolted for the doors like they were escaping a fire. So there was a lot of sitting around waiting for only a few minutes of runway, but as I rather enjoyed the waiting, I didn’t mind. The whole experience was a delightful novelty, from the herd of photographers to the overabundance of freakishly long-legged women to the amusing politics of seat assignments to the fashions themselves. And even if I’m not likely to give up my A-line skirts and years-old wool coat anytime soon, it’s fun to get an idea of what people cooler than I might be wearing.