Finding a Perch for Fashion Week

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 "Fashion Week is fantastic people watching."

Heather Cocks should know. With her writing partner, Jessica Morgan, Ms. Cocks whips up witty commentary on celebrities and their woeful sartorial choices for their fashion blog. Having covered the event for New York magazine every season since 2006, she can attest that there's no better place to gawk at celebrities than New York Fashion Week, which runs through Sept. 12. [See coverage from The Times's Fashion and Style team.]

Living in Los Angeles "is like going on safari," she said. "You can see celebrities in the wild, and maybe you don't want to poke at them."

"Whereas Fashion Week is kind of like going to the zoo," she said. "They are there for you to look at."

Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Ms. Cocks on how to watch the clothes (and the people) during Fashion Week.

Q. What's the scene like at the fashion shows?

A. Right before a show starts, the lights go down and everyone gets quiet. The music starts, and all of a sudden it's this stomping and clothes and bright lights and it's all very intense. You realize that you're seeing these clothes the way the designer intended you to. You see it on TV, and it doesn't quite feel the same.

Certain celebrities are more willing to get into it. Every season, I see Aida Turturro at Nanette Lepore rocking out in her seat, snapping her fingers, really enthralled by what's happening.

The fashion mag staffers, on the other hand, never betray an emotion. You'd think Anna Wintour would have the most tightly honed poker face, but the fact that she wears sunglasses leaves me to believe that, maybe sometimes, she can't resist an eye roll. I like to think that even Anna, seeing, say, a jumpsuit made of balloons coming down the runway, can't keep it all in.

Q. Any tips for snagging a good glimpse of the front row? 

A. You can always pretend you're looking for your seat, and not just hovering over Matt Damon. Really, my advice is, get to the show at the start time -- even though they always start late -- and sit back and watch. You'll see people in crazy outfits and ladies in hilarious hats. You'll never be bored. And if you're in standing room, position yourself near one of the stairways so you can quickly zip out and snag an empty seat.

Q. And if you can't get a ticket to a show, how do you soak up the scene?

A. Go over to Lincoln Center, perch on the fountain and watch journalists make their way inside and loads of people who have decked themselves out in the hopes of being photographed for a street style blog milling around outside.

Better yet, go to the back entrance to the tents on 62nd, near Amsterdam, to watch celebrities and models exiting a show backstage. Grab a pâté sandwich from Bar Boulud across the street -- there's nothing less fashion-y than shoving a baguette full of pâté into your mouth between shows, but it's beyond decadent, and I'm not sorry -- and park yourself out there to see who you spot.

And in the lobby bar at the Empire Hotel or the inelegantly named (but secretly great) Ed's Chowder House, you'll see all sorts of writers and editors drinking wine (and recharging phones) between shows. [See more ideas for Fashion Week.]

Q. Any advice on what to wear if you don't, say, have a personal stylist?

A. At first, I was nervous about what to wear because you think, "I'm a blogger and I work in my sweat pants." Then you realize that a lot of people there are working, too, so you do see flats and jeans. That takes the pressure off.

But when we're heading into a show, I'll put my flats in my purse and change into my kill-a-man stilettos. Because sometimes I just really want to wear my heels.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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