Beauty: Skin Deep and 14 Seconds Long

New York’s Fashion Week was last week, which means the city was filled with intolerable models and the people who employ them. I was in possession of an embossed, obviously expensive, terribly hard to read invitation to the Y & Kei fashion show. Y & Kei is a Korean label with Prada prices. I’d never been to a fashion show, so I was quite interested in what it all was about. And I was very excited about the potential for free food and drink.

Apparently, there is no food and drink at fashion shows, just so you know. No bother. My friend Ron and I wandered about. Rather than sitting down, we chose to check out who was sitting where. Everyone’s seats were marked, and naturally the folks from the New York Times and Women’s Wear Daily got the best seats in the house. I felt bad that I didn’t have a job that gave me some kind of advantages in the seating hierarchy.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that my only connection to fashion is that I bought my wife an expensive coat once, we wound up with decent seats in the fourth row, next to Young Miss Magazine and Travel & Leisure. No idea why Travel & Leisure would care what people would be wearing next season.
The show was scheduled for 2:00p, so we had arrived at 1:45p. This gave us ample time to wait. Around 2:45p, the models were apparently ready to begin their show. Not being in touch with the fashion business, I didn’t realize that models were traditionally never on time. We had killed most of the 45 minutes by trying to figure out who was the most important person in the audience. Two black gentlemen won that award – they had an endless procession of models approaching them and chatting away, with all the body language of a good ass-kissing. They were either quite important gentlemen, or the lucky recipients of some kind of awesome affirmative action policy.
The lights went down. Dramatic music came up. The models appeared behind a wall that had originally been a mirror, but through some lighting trickery now resembled a department store window. They stood like mannequins, some better at standing still than others. I decided the jittery one was a cocaine addict.
Once again there was darkness, a music swell, and then the runway lit up. It wasn’t a runway as much as it was an area where there were no chairs. Photographers were poised at the other end. A leggy blonde came out, walked by us toward the cameras, u-turned and disappeared again. She was on the floor for about 14 seconds. At about the time of her u-turn, another leggy blonde emerged wearing something different and following the path of her predecessor.
Somehow, during the 14 seconds that these girls were visible, people were deciding what they liked or did not like about their outfits. How that was possible, in such a limited time frame with a moving target, is beyond me. Granted, I am not a trained fashion professional, but that just seems like a lot to ask of someone. I believe this makes fashion people the most judgmental people in history – with the exception of official hate groups and the Gestapo.
Ron and I, not being fashion conscious or interested, focused on whether or not the girls were pretty. Ron found one leggy blonde that he thought was particularly pretty, but he seemed to change his mind after a few seconds. A few of the models seemed to walk funny, causing me to focus on their heads bobbing up and down. All the girls seemed to have been selected because they had pronounced facial features and very small noses. Although perhaps that’s what a model is supposed to have. Most models were leggy blondes, though there was a tall Japanese girl and a redhead thrown in for good measure.
About 12 minutes later the last model emerged, and 14 seconds after that, disappeared. We had seen the entire collection. The models were free to go home, after putting in a grueling near-quarter hour. The music ended, and Mrs. Y and Mr. Kei emerged to applause.
Every seat had come with a gift bag, containing a Y & Kei mirror and some gourmet eyeliner and lipstick. Immediately as the lights came on, some women descended on the unclaimed seats like vultures, swooping up the gift bags without any concern for concepts like dignity and self-restraint. Others gathered their belongings and headed to the next show. The models, skilled in the art of rapid dressing, were already headed out the door.