New York Fashion Week: The Real Show Is on the Street

At Lincoln Center this week the best people-watching is outside, on the plaza.

Haim Handwerker
Haim Handwerker
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

If you happen to be in New York now and you’re interested in fashion, it's worth visiting Lincoln Center for Fashion Week, which ends Thursday. Since it’s one of the world's most important fashion events, the chances of your snagging an invitation to any of the fashion shows themselves are negligible; the invited audience consists of industry people, buyers, journalists, relatives and celebrities.

Don't shy away though. Go to Lincoln Center anyway. The fashion shows are probably impressive, but the real action is outside, on the plaza of New York's most important performing arts venue, home to the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the Lincoln Center Film Society and an outstanding theater, among others.

New Yorkers and tourists throng the plaza to see the famous people attending the event, decked out in their finest outfits. The pandemonium in the area is extraordinary, including traffic jams, people coming and going and huge volumes of truck traffic and equipment.

But it’s organized chaos, make no mistake. The tumult happens at the beginning and the end of the fashion shows. Then everything quiets down for a while. To me, it’s the people who are interesting: male and female (and usually young, though there are some old people and some pet owners, with their dogs), dressed to the nines.

A few are headed inside, but most are there to hang around outside in the hope that professional photographers, or even amateurs, will snap their pictures; that just maybe they'll end up on television, the Internet or the press, giving them a couple seconds of fame. Most visit Lincoln Center more than once during Fashion Week, apparently, wearing something different each time.

If I can be allowed to express my unprofessional opinion, the creativity they put into their choice of dress sometimes surpasses what is going on inside during Fashion Week. And they will be nice to you even if your camera is no more than a common cellphone. The models will give you a moment's attention and sometimes also a hug for the camera.

For those looking for celebrities, the place to go is the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 62nd Street, where you can usually find some, along with paparazzi and other celebrity hounds. The onlookers usually don't have a clue whose picture they are taking, but sometimes they get lucky. For example, when I went by, I saw the excitement stirred up by the arrival of the Jonas Brothers. Last year on the same spot, the crowd descended upon Miley Cyrus. Paris Hilton, who is famous for who knows what, exactly, She chose to use the main door rather than the VIPs’ entrance, causing a major stir.

It's also worth coming at night, when the fashion shows are projected onto a large screen on the façade of the Metropolitan Opera. Even though it's not live, the sight is fantastic. You can stand, or if you prefer sit on the ground, and watch the spectacle. In short, it's a real show.

Models present creations from the Tommy Hilfiger Spring/Summer 2014 collection during New York Fashion Week, September 9, 2013.Credit: Reuters
Fashionistas visiting Lincoln Center for Fashion Week.Credit: Haim Handwerker
Fashionistas visiting Lincoln Center for Fashion Week.Credit: Haim Handwerker
Fashionistas visiting Lincoln Center for Fashion Week.Credit: Haim Handwerker