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Fashion Bigwigs On the First Show They Ever Went To

From fashion show tickets stuck in burning buildings to shows inside Giorgio Armani's palazzo amphitheater, fashion industry heavyweights reminisce about their first time -- attending Fashion Week, that is.

BFA_9467_1131046.jpg(Photo by Neil Rasmus/BFAnyc.com)

Ariel Foxman, Editor, InStyle
"My first seven or eight seasons attending shows was in mens, as the Editor in Chief of the long-departed Cargo. My first city was Milan. I remember getting off a plane in June, in a stagnant 90-degree heat and heading pretty much straight to a front-row seat at what was my first show: Zegna. I am sure the clothes were elegant -- I recall a lot of blue -- but I just kept thinking I might actually melt here right in my seat. The venue must have been 120-degrees inside and the runway was lit by overhead Kleig-lights. I think it's the first time I ever sweat down my back, while sitting. I turned to Bruce Pask, Cargo's Fashion Director at the time, and asked him if it was too late to get my entire body Botoxed before the next show. It never cooled down that season, but we had an amazing time nonetheless. We were the new kids on the mens block and print competitors wanted to discredit us. The turf-war element of it always makes me laugh. It's like, if WE don't band together as lovers and supporters of mens fashion, who will!?"

BFA_6102_701703.jpg(Photo by Joe Schildhorn/BFAnyc.com)

Cathy Horyn, Fashion Critic
"I can't remember the very first show but I remember I started working at the Detroit News in the summer of 1986 and I had atrocious clothes I had bought in Virginia Beach -- I wore a bat wing sleeve dress! During those early shows, I think I spent as much time studying who was in the first row as I did on the runway. I remember thinking, "Oh my god, if I got seated behind Pat Buckley, that would be heaven!" and I would stare into that mass of helmet hairdo and listen and try to eavesdrop on what [people in the front row] were saying.

But of my first shows, the one that really stands out is Armani. It was a show held in the old amphitheater in the basement of his palazzo. You came through the main entrance to big fanfare and then went down these steps and it was always semi-dark. You would sit there on these benches that were covered with cushions and the [models] were right in front of you and they had that glide to their walk that more models did back then. It was like a total fantasy. The other show that left a big impression, naturally, was Versace. I remember the feeling of everybody being slightly outraged. It was the era of the supermodels and these clothes were pushing all the boundaries. The other show where everyone was outraged was Gaultier. His show that I remember the most was the show in which Hamish Bowles was a model dressed in drag. It was a show with all these Weimar overtones. The models, including Hamish, were wearing helmets that were a cross between a military helmet and hat with this blade of hair coming off it like a knife. Everyone was outraged.

In New York City the early shows I remember were Bill Blass' shows. He always played the music that he loved, which was Gershwin and Cole Porter, and his clothes -- I think he referred to his suits as "snooty suits -- were so beautifully tailored but had this "I have money" look to it. He was also a master of the Little Black Dress. He did everything with such finesse and when he would come out after the show, he always looked incredibly debonair. I also remember Isaac [Mizrahi]'s second show -- it was the first one that got everybody's attention. I remember Manolo Blahnik, who had done the shoes for the show, sitting in the front row and swaying back-and-forth because he was so happy."

BFA_9943_1197304.jpg(Photo by Neil Rasmus/BFAnyc.com)

Simon Doonan, Creative Ambassador for Barneys New York and Author of The Asylum
"I was in my mid-20s and living in London. Lots of my best pals worked for Zandra Rhodes.
She was a huge deal and was known for having created the rich hippie look with wild printed chiffons worn by Bianca Jagger and Marisa Berenson. I managed to sneak into one of her shows which turned out to be the 'conceptual chic' punk rock show. It was a big departure. She showed slashed jersey dresses decorated with safety pins and chains. Tina Chow and Nell Campbell were amongst the models. Forty years later these fab dresses showed up at the recent Met Punk show. It was like running into old friends."

BFA_9948_1195981.jpg(Photo by Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com)

Kim Hastreiter, Co-Founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of PAPER Magazine
"My very first fashion show was in 1982 and it was a Stephen Sprouse fashion show that was held on the second floor of a very cramped showroom on 57th street. The reason I was invited was because I had written the very first article about this young amazing designer named Stephen Sprouse for GQ magazine (I was writing for them in those days). I was still in my 20s I think and fell in love with Sprouse's work because he made the most beautiful tailored classic suits and coats in DAYGLO!!!!! I bought tons of them for myself and Stephen and I started a friendship that lasted until his death."

BFA_9646_1155169.jpg(Photo by Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com)

Nick Wooster, Fashion Consultant
"I was the men's designer sportswear buyer at Bergdorf Goodman in June 1989 when I started regularly attending shows. It was Men's. It was Milan. Giorgio Armani was the most important show of the week. And I was definitely in a blackout."

BFA_9948_1195769.jpg(Photo by Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com)

Jenné Lombardo, Co-Founder of MADE Fashion Week
"I honestly don't remember. I think the first fashion show I went to was in Cleveland, probably at a department store. I may have even been in it. Since then, I feel I was most excited when I got to attend shows like the early Alex Wang days or the first HBA [Hood By Air] show we did here at MADE. Those were really beautiful to me because of the innocence and the true passion behind it. I think what's fun for me is that there's a lot of people in the industry that need to understand things to see how it'll translate and make sense in their world whereas a lot of this is a cultural movement -- a culture we're deeply connected with but that a lot of industry players don't know anything about. Like the GHE20 G0TH1K movement. It was really fun to feel the energy in the room with a lot of people who felt revived but also wildly confused. They knew had they to pay attention but they didn't know exactly what they were paying attention to."

BFA_9959_1197472.jpg(Photo by Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com)

Mickey Boardman, Editorial Director of PAPER Magazine
"The first show I ever went to was Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis. The show was at Parsons' auditorium and I was a student. This was probably 1990 so I was 24. Somebody said, "Oh, if you go and tell them you're a student, they'll give you standing room." Of course I was very nervous that they wouldn't let me in but I wanted to go see it. Since it was Marc, he had all the big models -- Linda, Naomi, Christy. It was sort of a picnic theme. Maybe I dreamed it but I swear there were checkered tablecloth prints with ants crawling on them. I was just busy being shocked that I was there so I wasn't really even able to absorb all of the fabulousness of it. At the time, the show was really small compared to what a Marc Jacobs show is now. Imagine the 'Project Runway' runway -- that was the Marc Jacobs fashion show so that's pretty crazy. It all just seemed so easy -- you could just walk right in and be part of the fabulousness. Plus, I love that I went to a Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis show -- it gives me context."

BFA_9950_1195993.jpg(Photo by Aria Isadora/BFAnyc.com)

Linda Fargo, Bergdorf Goodman SVP Fashion Office and Store Presentation
"I get to time travel back to the mid-80's having arrived very green and eyes wide open from Wisconsin. I thought I really hit it with my first job after leaving art school as a display girl at Macy's where they let me do whatever I dreamt up. Somehow I got access to a highly anticipated and rare Thierry Mugler fashion show to be held at the Armory. An hour before the show, there was a fire in the store and they did an evacuation, shutting down elevators and escalators of course! Holy first fashion show stress! My treasured ticket was all the way up on the 16th floor and they weren't allowing anyone in. I talked the security guy with some fabricated personal drama story, into escorting me and we trudged together, up the stairway, to get that ticket. Even at that young age, I recall that 16 flights of the world's largest store wasn't a cake walk, but it was worth it.

The show, even from the 8th row, didn't disappoint! I remember legions and battalions of Glamazon models marching out in powerful formations. OMG! The shoulder pads! The Veronica Lake hair! The smokey dry ice atmosphere shot through with laser lights creating forever long shadows of the girls emerging even before you could see them!

Needless to say, I was thunder struck by it all. It was those experiences at a time when the modern fashion world was still in its nascent stages and shows were productions, models performed instead of the robotic trance of today, and we weren't so flooded with the TMI of it all. It was one of the reasons I'm in this business in the first place." 

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