New York Fashion Weavz: Watching People Watching People at a Runway Show

When I tell the young Marie Claire assistant seated next to me at the Reem Acra Fall 2013 fashion show that I write for Gawker, she becomes very excited because she attended Northwestern and sometimes Gawker writes about Northwestern.

She quickly adopts me as her grandmother, pointing out various famous faces in the room and repeating the names slowly and clearly ("Who? Who? Who?") until I catch them.

"That's Urrthrflubrl," she says, pointing at a tall blonde woman speaking into a video camera, whom I recognize as Nancy O'Dell of Entertainment Tonight.
"Who?" I ask.
"Krrrtherurgl," she says, eyes locked on Nancy O'Dell.
"Who?" I ask again.
"Katherine Heigl," she says. It is Katherine Heigl.
"Oh, wow!" I say. "Katherine Heigl."

Katherine Heigl is wearing a black lace dress that reminds me of the mostly-sheer black lace get-up Britney Spears wore to the 2001 VMA's. She is celebrating #ThrowbackThursday on a Monday. She is serving up vintage Britney and classic Nancy O'Dell. In her nude platforms, she is conservatively 8 feet taller than all of the people wearing puffy coats and rubber rainboots swarming around her.

"Kohhhfro's over there, in the red" my benchmate whispers, pointing to the opposite side of the room.
"Who?" I ask.
"Keurfrrha."
"Who?"
"Coco Rocha."
"Wow!" I say. "Coco Rocha!"

Coco Rocha is a very famous fashion model, who is soon to become an even more very famous fashion model when her new reality series (an America's Next Top Model carbon copy, complete with Nigel Barker, which will costar Naomi Campbell) premieres Tuesday on Oxygen. She is from Canada. Here is a video of her performing an Irish stepdance down a Jean Paul Gaultier runway in 2007.

[NB: While the Marie Claire assistant was certain that the thin girl in the short, dark red dress was Coco Rocha, I've been unable to confirm it independently. For the purposes of this story, we'll assume that it was her.]

I pull out my phone to send text messages to my friends about all the celebrities I'm friends with now.

"Katherine Heigl! Coco Rocha!"

Behind me, I hear other people sending identical text messages.

"Autocorrect changes ‘Heigl' to ‘Kegel.'"

One of my friends, a law student in Chicago, writes back instantly:

"I love Coco Rocha! Did you know she's a Jehovah's Witness and does the door-to-door stuff?"

I imagine myself answering a knock at my door to find Coco Rocha standing on my stoop in Fendi pumps.

"Did you know she's a Jehovah's Witness and does the door-to-door stuff?" I ask my granddaughter.

Thirty minutes after the show's official 6:00 p.m. start time, the lights in the room go out and pumps of music vibrate through the seats.

Everyone in the tent raises their phones to snap photos of the dresses as they are marched down the runway. I raise my phone to indiscriminately snap photos in Katherine Heigl's general direction, so that I can text them to people later.

Katherine Heigl watches the show like someone who knows I am taking pictures of her. She is one of the few people in the room not holding up a phone toward the runway, jotting down notes, or discreetly taking pictures of Katherine Heigl.

She smiles beatifically at each look and seems determined to afford each ensemble a precisely equal amount of attention. Most people study the outfit as it approaches them, then catch the full rear view as the model reverses her course back up the runway. Katherine Heigl sizes up a dress as it approaches her, then whips her head around and follows it all the way to the end of the runway, like it's a high flight risk prisoner she's afraid to let out of her sight. I support this head whipping quirk because it enables me to snap excellent flash photos of Katherine Heigl's face.

New York Fashion Weavz: Watching People Watching People at a Runway Show



As the knee-length dresses give way to more elaborate gowns, it occurs to me that, while I have come to this fashion show mostly to look at Katherine Heigl, Katherine Heigl has probably come to shop. For the next few moments, Katherine Heigl and I attempt to decide which of these dresses would look best on Katherine Heigl. What should Katherine Heigl wear to the premiere of her upcoming movie The Nut Job, an animated film about a rat and a squirrel set in the 1950s? Probably this dress, not because it would look particularly good on Katherine Heigl, but because it is my favorite dress. It floats down the runway like an expensive mushroom cloud.

Watching Katherine Heigl see dresses gets boring after a while, so I decide to watch the girl who may or may not be Coco Rocha see dresses instead.

Noco Rocha is seated at the far end of the runway. This is the area where, in movies, a bad girl model will flip off the camera or lift up her top or spend twenty minutes voguing. Far more at ease than Katherine Heigl, who continues to sit up ramrod straight like she's in church, UnPoco Rocha smiles and whispers to her friends as the models walk. Unlike everyone else in the room, who is busy taking hundreds of photos of every dress/Katherine Heigl, this girl raises her iPhone sporadically. I decide to take pictures only of the dresses she takes pictures of (Caity & Coco's Picks for The Coolest Dresses), but all mine come out blurry. Maybe if she reads this, she can forward her photos to me (subject line: Cool Picks Pix) for my records.

After the show ends and we applaud for clothes, everyone steps on the runway as we queue up to leave. Coco Rocha(?) remains seated while we trickle out in a foot traffic bottleneck and I make a mental note to do this next time because it looks way cooler.

Back out in the lobby, a man asks me if he can take my picture standing next to a yellow car that has been moved indoors.

But I don't support yellow cars and I tell him, "No, thank you."

[Source image via Getty.]