Why Are We Here?
The fall 2006 shows began Friday under the tents in New York's Bryant Park. A little after 9 p.m. that night, a mob of people waited behind a nylon rope for the doors to the Baby Phat show to open. If you scan the crowd, you'll notice that there aren't a lot of editors from the mainstream fashion publications. They don't come to this show anymore because it is well-known for being a chaotic mosh pit. And generally, the clothes are really, really bad.
The house is never open on time so that provides ample opportunity for a large crowd to gather. The folks at Baby Phat, which is overseen by Kimora Lee Simmons, like to create chaos because they seem to think that's good for the brand. (Kimora, by the way, always talks about having been Karl Lagerfeld's muse, but we have yet to find any evidence of her holding a muse-like position.)
As you stand patiently behind the little rope you can watch Kimora's people engage in the old Studio 54 trick of picking and choosing a handful of people to drag though the crowd for entry. They make a big deal about the people, as if they're celebrities, and so you search your memory trying to figure out who they could be. An obscure rapper? Some starlet from the WB, now the CW network? If Kathy Griffin is a D-list celebrity, these folks are somewhere in the L,M,N,O,P section of the alphabet.
Baby Phat hires outside professionals to organize their shows, but can't seem to get out of the way and let them do their job as efficiently as possible. At one point, a publicist is berated by someone representing the winner of "America's Next Top Model." (We'd put her in the appendix to fame. Or maybe in the footnotes.) Apparently if Miss Top Model isn't given a front row seat, then she's going to leave.
When we all finally get in and the show starts, the models strut out on a catwalk some four feet off the ground. Very 1980s retro. From where we're sitting, it's possible to look up and see the models' underwear. We suppose we should be thankful that at least they're wearing some.
We're not here for the clothes. They won't even be produced. We're here for the spectacle. We're here for the gawdy extravaganza. In interviews, Kimora loves to show off her Versace china, her collection of Louis Vuitton bags, her shoes, her clothes, her wealth, her money, her money, her money. We heard that recently an acquaintance of hers in the fashion industry sent her a letter that was supposed to be a gentle intervention. It suggested that her bragging had gotten out of hand and that perhaps she should try and sound not quite so full of herself. Soon after, she was alledgedly heard telling an interviewer "how blessed" she was to be in her position.
The show ended as usual with Simmons walking out with her daughters. The two little girls have been props in her advertising campaigns and serve as accessories for Kimora's runway bows. A colleague noted wryly that the girls made particularly nice accessories and also could be converted into overnight bags.
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