It was every bit as you would imagine it to be: the glitz, the glam, the high-energy and the determination of everyone around me.
My flight landed at the LaGaurdia Airport at 1p.m., which left me with three hours to get across the congested streets of New York, into PUNTO Space (the venue where we were holding our seven fashion shows), and into the basement to style 12 models for the upcoming show, which started at 4p.m.
As my tour guide, posed as an Uber driver, dropped me off at my destination, I sprinted down the street (suitcase in hand) and into basement of PUNTO Space only to find a place that mirrored the page of a magazine. My sister and senior stylist, Ashley Croker, was overlooking all of their and makeup artists busy at work, models being fitted with clothes I had only dreamt of wearing, and the company who brought me out to work behind the scenes – Styling On- orchestrating the runway for the upcoming collection, “UNKNOWN,” by designer Zack Ark (Entree Lifestyle).
With only an hour left until showtime (after finishing hair and makeup, and matching models to looks) we were ready to start lining everyone up, while pairing models to stylists for outfit changes. Although a stylist has many different jobs, changing a models look may seem like one of the more easy jobs. But that is not the case. When your model exits the runway and comes to you, you have about 30 seconds to change their entire look , from their jewelry all the way to their shoes until you send them back down the runway as a completely different person. UNKNOWN x Entree LS was organized with only one outfit change, and ended with our models being displayed as mannequins in a circle, with a live drummer in the middle. It was nothing short of incredible.
Our next show was with, “Wear Your Label,” a Canadian brand established by Andrew and Kayley promoting mental illness. The entrepreneurs set up their show to be natural, having the audience focus more on real issues being battles than the models themselves. As each model walked confidently down the runway, facts about mental illness flowed from the speakers: “One in five people live with mental illnesses,” five in five people have mental health,” “no one person is alone on their journey towards a healthy lifestyle,” “you have the courage to fight.” Wear Your Label is encouraging people everyday to “take ownership of their mental health,” one shirt and one stigma at a time. These young people, with the support of Sarah Fisher from Degrassi, are making huge waves in the mental health community, allowing viwers to become more aware of very real issues.
We were done… for the day anyways. Wrapping up the final show, Styling On was getting ready to embark on a night out in New York City- something I had yet to experience in my 23 years of life. Our first stop, Lucky Strike bowling alley in Manhattan for a NYFW after party. This had to be a mistake… an after party at a bowling alley? To my surprise, Lucky Strike was more of a nightclub than an actual place people went to bowl. Models, designers, actors and singers flooded the floors of Lucky Strike in fabulousness. Gerard Butler even made his way over to our table for a few “Hello’s” and smiles.
After an hour or so of networking and mingling, Styling On moved our night over to Avenue, which seemed (to me) to be the hottest location of the night. The lined stretched all the way around the building. I thought we would never get in…until Styling On and Zack Ark walked walked right up to the front of the line and were let into our own VIP section with no hesitation. We sat and talked about our favorite shows of the day and which collections we were excited to see the following days, until we were hungry enough to walk down to Artichoke Pizza located right next door to Avenue. I would try explain to you all the delicacy and deliciousness that is Artichoke Pizza, but even if I could, it would not do this place justice. But to try, it is the most amazing pizza I have ever consumed. (You HAVE to have it).
The next morning, Styling On mentally prepared ourselves for the stampede of 32 kids that were about to enter our lives for the next four hours. Bound by the Crown kids couture is a fashion line designed by Toni Lyn Spaziano and Isebella Barrett. Bound by the Crown is “comfortable couture” for children aged 4-14. It was as hectic as ever trying to get hair, makeup, nails, and outfits done for 32 kids. But the show went as smoothly as we had intended. Little models walking the runway with poise and hints of attitude, hitting poses I thought only models of years could hit. Bound by the Crown was joined by MTV’s Teen Mom, Kailyn Lowry, and her son who was just too adorably handsome.
Following “Bound by the Crown,” was our final show with the remarkable Jovan O’Connor, whose looks were styled with jewelry by Heather L Jones. This show was quite special to me, due to the fact that I would be styling one of my closest friends, Kasey Hughes, whom had walked in three previous shows over the weekend thus far. Each look was unique, and daring, fitting perfectly to each diverse spectrum of models we had chosen.
Styling On went out with a band. There were tears of joys and sighs of relief as the feeling of success set in on all of us who made these shows possible and extraordinary. Working behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week 2015 with all of the superb people, designers, and models was the opportunity of a lifetime. All the while getting to do it with my sister and closest friend.
Ashley, Kasey, and I ended our weekend of work by celebrating the 4th anniversary of the three-story restaurant and nightclub, Catch, before our flight home the next day. We ate sushi, said our cheers, and danced into the night as Catch began to fill with the one and only ’50 Cent’ (and his entourage) and models from the UNKNOWN collection. I felt as though someone I was someone of stature, mingling with such successful people and I swear I have never felt anything like it.
New York City; a city engulfed with massive amounts of high-energy, men and women walking with purpose, and dreams being fulfilled every second of the long days, and even longer nights. I fell in love with you. And I will see you again.