That cultivated quirkiness is often the opposite of the photography taking place inside the shows, which are a celebration of human flawlessness: Models, all legs, with perfect hair, cheekbones, waists and perfectly symmetrical faces. At Jill Stuart’s show, the models were chosen to be so similar that they are interchangeable: straight brown center-parted hair and vaguely Slavic white faces stepping straight-backed down the runway, eyes focused on nothing.
But outside the Lincoln Center tents, it’s perfect flaws that are admired. There is conformity here, too, but it manifests itself in the way people present themselves as being different. Traditionally pretty girls attract photographers, too, but it’s the men in skirts and high heels — or, better yet, a red cape and a mask made of dyed-green human hair — who get the real attention. It’s the women wearing mismatched shoes or overly matched accessories and makeup: blue pants, blue gloves and blue lipstick. It’s the popularity of Skrillex hair, a half-long, half-shaved look popularized by the eponymous DJ, or the girl with marijuana leaves printed on her shirt, bearing the slogan “Weed be good together.” It’s the man, already standing well over six feet, who is unafraid to wear teeny white shorts and six-inch platforms.
It’s Barry Yoko, who wears a set of Mickey Mouse ears every day. “I work at a plastic surgery clinic, and I asked the doctor if I could implant them, and he said, ‘You’re crazy,’ ” Yoko says.
Most of all, it’s the girl in the Frida Kahlo floral bouquet headband who was in the center of a crowd of photographers not only because she is stunningly beautiful but also because she was in an electric wheelchair. Certainly none would admit it, but did they consider it an accessory? Would she have been photographed as much without it?
Making it official
I went to Fashion Week, but it didn’t become official until I, too, was stopped by a street-style photographer.
Walking out of the tents with a co-worker Sunday, a photographer from Getty Images stops me and brusquely instructs me to stand against the wall. I am wearing red cropped pants, a white blouse, and a spearmint blazer — an outfit chosen to blend in and be anonymous, which is not something one would usually say about a spearmint blazer, but so it goes at Fashion Week.