Not many people want to go to fashion shows, but even fewer end up getting invited. Thus, the art of sneaking into shows at New York Fashion Week is perennially well-documented, to the point that one suspects bloggers are paid to sneak into fashion shows to give a fashionable air of danger to the whole enterprise. So let's go further, shall we? Let's go backstage.
This step-by-step guide is based on my experience ending up backstage at the Venexiana show last Saturday evening, day three of New York Fashion Week. It should be enough to get even the world's least enterprising snoop backstage at the fashion event of the season.
1) Show up at fashion week HQ at Lincoln Center at 6 p.m. with no invites and no clue, but armed with knowledge culled from a half-dozen blog posts about how to sneak into a fashion show uninvited.
2) Pay $100 (!) for your press pass in the small wood-paneled press credentials trailer across the street that smells like poop. There is an obscure color-and-letter-coded ID card system that determines your level of access. Yours will have the letter Q, which I believe stands for Quite Little. "NOT VALID FOR SHOW ENTRY" is emblazoned across the bottom, just to reiterate quite how little you are.
2) Enter the Official Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Tent of Obscene Luxury, or whatever it's called. The place looks like the international terminal at an airport in some oil-rich Arab kingdom; the two huge monitors in the center display times of fashion shows instead of flights. But this is a socialist emirate: Mini fridges with free bottled water and cans of diet Pepsi line the walls for parched fashion week-goers.
3) Drink two Diet Pepsis while awkwardly circling the pavilion. Take in the Mercedes convertible where a couple of attendees in fur and pumps are having their picture taken—there's more fur at Fashion Week than in an episode of Game of Thrones—and gaze at the display for recycled Circa diamonds, which boasts that "every diamond we buy from you is one less that has to be mined."
4) Sheepishly approach one of the black-clad Fashion Week employees under the big board and attempt to wheedle your way into the show for Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B. label, which starts in a few minutes. Take some comfort in the woman's pitying look as she utterly shoots you down. She has done this often and has cultivated the soothing demeanor of a vet telling an owner his beloved dog must be put to sleep.
5) Drink another Diet Pepsi; circle some more.
6) Eye the entrances to theater, manned by beefy black-suited security guards. This is the soft spot, where most sneakers-in attempt to penetrate, though it requires nerves, brains or a fancy outfit you might not have.
7) Drink another Diet Pepsi, for courage. Continue circling. Circle while the line to get into the L.A.M.B. show grows, then is sucked into the theater. Circle until you hear the pounding bass that signals the start of every show at Fashion Week. Whoops, you just missed your chance. Pretend to yourself you didn't do it on purpose.
8) Leave the tent, despondent at having wasted $100 of your employer's money and two hours hanging out in a boring fancy mall where nothing is even for sale with people who you're not even sure were very fashionable because a lot of them looked like shit, to be honest.
9) In a fit of desperation, follow signs around the block that lead down a closed street to the backstage area.
10) Walk down the empty street, then up a ramp leading to the back of the first tent. There's an empty chair where the security guard should be. Open the door, with elation filling your chest.
11) Prepare for bright chaos. Dodge a woman with a headset and a clipboard as she sprints out the door. Freeze: There's actually a second layer of security inside the tent. To the right, a couple guards block the way to a bustling makeup room for the Venexiana show that starts in half an hour, checking ID cards for the clearance you don't have. To the left, though, is the makeup room for the L.A.M.B. show, which is unguarded and nearly empty, since the show just started a few minutes ago.
12) Take a left, into the empty makeup room. Write down the three signs above the makeup stations: "No drinking under 21," "No drinking while pregnant," "No smoking." Evidence of the fashion industry's bold attempts to get models healthier.
13) Notice the odd stares of the handful of makeup artists who are still lounging in the makeup room.
14) Duck into the narrow hallway next door, which contains a row of green plastic Porta-Potties; hide in one of the Porta-Potties. These are the cleanest, best-smelling Porta-Potties you will ever be inside. Do models poop beauty products?
15) As hard as it may be, stop thinking about models pooping and collect yourself in the pleasant green hue. Devise a plan for sneaking past the security guards into the Vexeiana backstage area.
16) Remember the color-coded ID card system. Flip the pass hanging around your neck backward, blank-side out, hiding your laughable "Q." There could be anything on the other side, even the sacred Red Badge of Backstage Access.
17) Take a deep breath and get one last whiff of the really astonishingly good-smelling Porta-Potty atmosphere. Lavender?
18) Barge out of the Porta-Potty. Hold your notepad in front of you like a shield, scribbling crazily past the guards; make sure you channel your wide-eyed, frantic terror into a more concentrated panic so you'll be mistaken for some poor assistant or stylist.
19) Congratulations, you're backstage at a fashion show.
20) Snap a picture of a model taking a desultory bite from a slice of cantaloupe on a fork, lifted from a decimated lunch spread. (Decimated by whom? Not the model.) Snap a picture of the blonde model in the studded leather jacket having her hair teased into a dramatic updo. You'll have to jostle for position with about a half-dozen professional photographers and a camera crew interviewing some dude about the sustainable hair products there, because backstage is just as much a media shitshow as the runway. The models seem just as beautifully emotionless.
21) Try to peek over the shoulder of one Asian model as she sits and texts and giggles. But she's got that privacy film on her iPhone screen that limits the angle from which the screen is legible; this must be a requirement for discrete backstage texting.
20) Feel an increasingly uncomfortable sensation of being someplace that is simultaneously forbidden, new, and boring.