How To Get Into NYFW, According To A Pro

Caroline Vazzana is a fashion editor, stylist, and author of the new book, Making it in Manhattan: The Beginner’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the World of Fashion. Follow her on Instagram here.

A little over six years ago I attended my very first New York Fashion Week. I had spent my summer interning for a designer in the garment center, and the company was nice enough to invite all of the former summer interns to their show in September. It feels pretty surreal thinking back to that day and the excitement I felt stepping foot into my first fashion show. The lights, the music, the venue—it all felt like a scene out of Sex and the City or the Devil Wears Prada

Today, as I get ready to head into another New York Fashion Week season, I still feel like that 19-year-old girl, excited for what’s to come. But, of course, with a lot more knowledge of how this whole Fashion Week scene really works. So, below I’ve taken some time to share my tips and tricks to getting into fashion week, navigating the scene like a pro, and maybe (if you’re lucky) even sitting front row!

Okay, okay, it all sounds so glamorous, but how do you get in?! A question I wondered for years. Well, there are a few ways. Similar to my situation, if you interned with a designer previously, reconnecting with them and politely asking for an invite doesn’t hurt. If you’ve never interned with a designer, don’t fear! During the Fashion Week excitement, so many companies are looking for volunteers to help out with the show. So, you wouldn’t be attending as a guest, but you could get to work the back end and see all of the ins and outs and behind-the-scenes happenings (which I’ve done as well) and that is pretty cool.

Another great way to get in is to reach out to a blogger, influencer, or stylist you love and see if she may need some help during the excitement. I have so many people reach out to me each season and I usually end up taking on one or two of them. These interns will help me with my schedule, attend shows by my side, and even cover shows in my place that I may not be able to attend. With the rise of social media, it has made it so much easier to get in contact with your favorite brands, PR firms, and bloggers. Send them a message and make your interest known. The worst thing they can say is no, and hey, you’re no worse off than when you started.

My last piece of advice for breaking into the fashion week scene is to do some outreach. My senior year of college, I attended fashion week again and made it a point to reach out to different brands I had worked with through styling jobs, internships, or who I’d even rubbed shoulders with at an event. So, if you’re a small aspiring blogger, stylist, consultant, editor, and already have a little experience under your belt, it doesn’t hurt to do a formal outreach—especially if you offer in your email that you would be happy with a standing room ticket. At mostly every show there are standing room tickets, which are a very important part of it all because it’s the brand’s way to guarantee that the show is full. So, by you offering to be in standing room, it’s showing the brand that you’re just happy to be there. And who knows? The day of the show there’s a pretty good chance you could be upgraded to a seat.

Caroline Vazzana

Below is a sample Fashion Week ticket request email (from chapter 15 of my book Making it in Manhattan).

Subject: (insert designer’s name here) NYFW Ticket Request

Dear (insert PR person’s name here),

I hope you are doing well! My name is (insert your name here), and I would love to attend your upcoming show this (September/February) at New York fashion week. I am currently a (blogger, stylist, consultant, editor—explain a bit about what you do and include any relevant links to your work) and would love the opportunity to see your newest collection live this season.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

All my best, (your name)

Within the request, feel free to link to your work, a media kit, or clips of writing you may have done.

Now, once you have received one (or a few!) of the coveted invites, here’s what to expect. There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of a show, or even the excitement outside of the show. Be prepared for swarms of street style photographers running around to get the perfect shot. And not to mention the hundreds of beautiful people serving LOOKS getting their pictures snapped. I always remember how at my first fashion week I literally thought everyone was a celebrity just because of the way they dressed!

Caroline Vazzana

Once you get to the venue, you’ll be ushered inside, where there is usually a small line to get in. Upon entering, most venues are decorated to match the mood of the show. Last season, one show I attended was set to look like a bazaar with tons of mini vendors and pieces to shop within the runway. Most shows’ seats are just long rows, which are more often than not packed to the brim. So in the event your seat was taken by someone else (which happens a lot) you just squeeze yourself in where you can fit in that row.

A few minutes before show time, the venue will be so loud with people chatting, but once the lights start to dim it gets completely silent to the point where you could hear a pin drop. The music will begin to play, the lights will suddenly flash on, and the first model will approach the runway. As you sit there and take it all in, make sure to put your phone down, even if for only a few seconds. Take a deep breath in, then let it out, and remember where you are—it’s truly magic!

Caroline Vazzana is a fashion editor, stylist, and author of the new book, Making it in Manhattan: The Beginner’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the World of Fashion. Follow her on Instagram here.

Images: Caroline Vazzana (4)