One of the treats of following Fashion Week anywhere is that the unexpected just might happen. In New York at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, I was lucky enough to see many shows from seats. On the last day, one of the off-site shows at Exit Art on 10th Ave, hosted the wonderful Elene Cassis Fashion Show. Elene had some fun things in store for her attendees so she chose this large Art Venue to stage her show. I had wandered down to the venue with a journalist friend who was, incidentally not wearing 4″ heels. Since we were early for the show, we went to the back entrance, reserved for models, stylists and makeup crew. My friend had a backstage pass for the show and it took a little convincing but I was admitted as his helper. Once inside, we found the correct people, after finding the incorrect (and slightly annoyed) people to get us backstage.
Down in the basement were huge rooms set up with an obviously enjoyed lunch spread (who said models don’t eat) and hair and makeup artists benches. All was in motion. Models, dressed and sheeted with hair half in the makings of enormous bee-hive hair, hairspray clouding the room like a San Francisco fog. Stylists were rushing around, herding models to get their dresses on while others were sitting for just one more touch of lip color application by no less than 3 designers. From an outsider’s view, it looked like mayhem, but enough calm acceptance pervaded to say, “this is just another day” backstage.
Elene herself was excited but kind enough to grant my friend an interview, knowing that all publicity is good publicity. We climbed the stairs to the dress room where every look was set out for each model. Dresses, pants, jackets, shoes, accessories; all neatly labeled with each girl’s name and professional dresser’s instruction diagram. It made me think of those Crate and Barrel instruction directions for furniture kits. It was so like the pre-stage world of the theater. But as soon as we were seated, waiters passed champagne, and the famous and once famous stars came into the room among a flurry of requisite flashbulbs, I knew it would be okay.
The crowd hushed as he lights went out. One light spotted the first look as the music boomed and model after model, now polished and perfectly poised, confidently strutted the catwalk to show the elegant designs of Elene Cassis. Sheath dresses, bright colors for spring, textures born of silk, cutout linens, and sequins; ruffled jackets and marvelously wearable Jackie Kennedy looks that made you long for days when women dressed up. As the finale of models glided through the archway, hundreds of flower petals dropped from the high ceiling to remind us that spring and the need for all these delicious clothes will certainly come again.