NYFW + HP + Project Runway

I think you can probably recall a few months ago, back when I was following along with Project Runway and participating in a challenge with HP where I recreated each week’s look on my own. And you can probably remember me getting ridiculously excited about having the chance to attend Fashion Week and the filming of the finale runway show, yes? I thought so.

I wanted to wait until the finale aired before sharing about the trip, not because I knew anymore about who won than the average viewer (it was packed with dummy collections from the other contestants) but because everyone else participating shared right away and I thought it might be overkill. Okay, I knew it would be. On that note, it’s about to get pretty photo-heavy right here and right now.

After my bad travel karma when I flew to Seattle in July, I begged an early flight to NYC. HP listened, and I was on my way bright and early at 6:30 a.m. I snapped this shot of the Oklahoma sunrise as we took off over the city.

HP put us up at the Empire Hotel, located just across the street from Lincoln Center where tons of NYFW events go down. This was the view from my hotel room, which was sort of odd with the tiniest bathroom ever but nice nonetheless. Did you see the view?! Totally made up for any shortcomings.

And this was the gorgeous wallpaper in the hallways. Anyone know who it’s by?

The HP team didn’t arrive until after the bloggers – Jaime, Megan, Ez, Susan, and myself. But when they did were were welcomed with gift bags full of essentials (snacks!) and HP Minis to use for the next few days. Before I knew it there was champagne and more appetizers than I could handle in front of my eyes. And that was just the start of the all-star treatment we received the entire time. Seriously, other PR teams should take a note out of their book (Edelman, for those interested!).

After a lightning fast shower we all went our ways and attacked Fashion’s Night Out, which I can only define as trick or treating for fashionable adults. Events were going on every way you turned, but Jaime and I opted to tackle part of lower 5th Avenue.

I loved all of the carefully executed installations and parties, but it’s all sort of a blur. I definitely remember going into Madewell, Free People (two photos above), Anthropologie, Barney’s (OMG, the shoe department!), and Barnes & Noble for a very pregnant Jaime to pee. Afterwards we rounded out the evening with a stop at Starbucks and girl talk, then Duane Reade (Which I miss horribly – when did they get a freezer section?!) for essentials.

PHOTO: Megan Reardon

The next day kicked off bright and early with the HP team waiting in the hotel lobby and bearing Starbucks. We were off across the street to Lincoln Center where the Project Runway runway finale was filming. We were sort of herded through like VIP cattle, and freebies were flowing everywhere. (I stuck to the bottled water.) The runway tent was positively alive with energy and smiles. Above are me, Megan, and Jaime standing on the actual runway.

Once we were told the show was going to start everyone scrambled to their seats, we were pleasantly surprised that ours was two sections from the front and only six rows up! This was my view across the way. I spent a good fifteen minutes celeb spotting – Jennifer Love Hewitt, Andy McDowell, Malin Akerman, Swizz Beats, Omarion, Betsey Johnson, and a slew of former Project Runway designers.

PHOTO: Megan Reardon

Then the lights dimmed and the real wait began.

PHOTO: Megan Reardon

And out poured Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, Michael Kors, and the guest judge. They all immediately filed towards the end of the runway which was press central for photos.

PHOTO: Jaime Derringer

One of my favorite collections was Anthony Ryan’s. He’s been my favorite for a good part of the season and I couldn’t help but think he completely nailed it. Not only the collection, but the idea of putting on a show. All of his models with the exception of the one wearing the keystone piece wore blunt cut wigs. And my favorite part of the entire show were his blue airbrushed wrists. I had a chance to ask him about them the next night at the reunion party and he said he wanted tough girls, girls who would have tattoos, and that this is one of the ways he expressed that. I want to mimic it so badly on my own arm!

PHOTO: Jaime Derringer

You might be wondering how I got these amazing shots at the end of the runway. You can thank Jaime’s bladder. She had to get up to use the restroom just before the show started and they wouldn’t let her back to her seat!

PHOTO: Jaime Derringer

I was struck by just how black the tent became, and how much focus was drawn the runway by lighting alone.

PHOTO: Jaime Derringer

PHOTO: Jaime Derringer

The show consisted of the last nine contestants standing and lasted about an hour. Once it wrapped Heidi informed us that they were headed back to Parson’s to choose the winner and that was that! Sort of a letdown, but cool nonetheless.

PHOTO: Jaime Derringer

For lunch HP took us to chef Jonathan Benno’s Lincoln restaurant, also a part of the Lincoln Plaza complex. It had us wrapped around its little finger before we ever walked in the door with its modern architecture and reflecting pool. See the grass up there? That’s the roof. (I had a chance to spend some time with Martin of CMYBacon later on that evening.)

PHOTO: Jaime Derringer

And no big deal, but that’s Julliard right behind it.

We split our group into two tables and had the best conversations. It honestly felt like a group of friends getting together, the farthest thing from a PR luncheon.

The courses were small, but oh so decadent. I started with focaccia and a greens salad (not picture), then moved on to the best gnudi filled with ricotta cheese and root vegetables. Dessert was a chocolate hazelnut torta and cappuccino. Two and half hours from start to finish and I felt like I might die by the end. So good.

Believe it or not there were other things besides food and fashion happening, I just didn’t think to photograph them because I was having way too much fun. Saturday the lovely Melissa of Operation Nice took the train up from Phillie to have lunch with me. We stayed on the Upper West Side and lunched at Rosa Mexicano. This photo is part of a massive 20 x 20′ (total guess) water wall that had row upon row of diving figurines. The ones at the top started straight up and down and each row gradually descended until they were in a full-on vertical dive. I was obsessed. Oh, and Melissa? Just as nice (and as real) as her blog name suggests.

After three hours of chit chat I had to dash off for another date, this one with Jessie of The Concrete Catwalk and Caroline of Sweet Caroline in the City – both total fashionistas. We partook in a bit of pampering at the Rue La La/It Gets Better Project festivities that were also taking place at the Empire Hotel. I had a hand massage and then my makeup was done by an Emmy award-winning artist. Not too shabby!

And now a quick glance at what Fashion Week can do to one’s feet. I think it was Emily who suggested Band-Aid create a whole foot bandage for the event. Someone needs to Kickstart that right now.

And then it was time for the HP/Project Runway Reunion Party on the rooftop of the Empire Hotel. HP did a stellar job of converting the already gorgeous space into a sophisticated land of technology with touchscreens everywhere you looked and a cocktail menu with drinks named after the judges.


Oh, and a red carpet which was the single most surreal moment of my life.

This was our view and the weather was perfect. (Contrary to weather reports that it was supposed to rain for the entire four days I was in town, it didn’t until Megan and I were headed to the airport the next day.)

PHOTO: Jaime Derringer

Our designs from the season were rotating on a Touchscreen while the contestants were on another.

PHOTO: Jaime Derringer

PHOTO: Jaime Derringer

Like any good party thrown in 2011, there was of course a photo booth with props. After snapping away you could walk over to a row of HPs to print them out and email the shots to yourself! Jaime and I of course took full advantage.

PHOTO: Jaime Derringer

It was a blast people watching and trying to decide if someone was someone.

I especially loved this gal’s Betsey Johnson number. Her shoes were horrendous, but I was too focused on the tulle skirt to pay much mind to them.

PHOTO: Jaime Derringer

Have you noticed all of the photo credits yet? I did in fact bring my camera to New York, but never once took it out of my suitcase.

Of course there were party favors, a sweet pair of carbon blade scissors and a plaque commemorating the event. The designers in attendance walked away with their own HP Mini!

Sunday morning I met up with Susan from House of Brinson and Shayna of Pattern Pulp for an amazing brunch at Tipsy Parson.

Joanna of A Cup of Jo was supposed to join us, but had to bail at the last minute so she had this massive tray of goodies sent to our table in her stead. Such a sweetheart. I had their decadent mac and cheese which I highly recommend. (This is the point in the story where I let you know that I completely understand if you think all I did was go out to eat a bunch on my own. Because instead of taking photos of the lovely people I was with I focused  on the eats.)

And that was it. The end of the adventure. Megan and I were picked up at the hotel and taken to the airport for our rendezvous. I watched the Steelers lose their first game of the season in between flights, ate some Taco Bell, then hobbled home on my maladjusted tootsies.

This past Friday I had the chance to submit a few questions for a sit down HP was having with the winner, Anya Ayoung Chee.

Other than yourself, who was your favorite to win?
Having seen Laura’s collection, even though she wasn’t in the top four, I really think that she could have won. Her collection was super strong.

Which challenge do you wish you had the chance to do over again?
I think I could have done a much better job at the Garnier Sheep Dog challenge, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to do it over.

How does creating fashion inspire other areas of creativity in your life?
I like to experiment with different art forms. It usually goes the other way around, and I experiment with other art forms like photography or film and it influences my designs. I find that one way or another all of my influences come back together in my work.

  • adele

    October 31, 2011 at 11:26 am Reply

    So fab that you got to go & thanks for sharing the pics xoxo

  • claire@gibsonking

    October 31, 2011 at 6:43 pm Reply

    i have been waiting for this post from you. I was just thinking how i could not wait to hear what you had to say! Great photos…sounds like a blast!

  • Lulu

    October 31, 2011 at 10:30 pm Reply

    Yep. It’s from Cole & Sons “woods”. I was obsessed with it for a while.

  • whitney

    November 1, 2011 at 7:15 am Reply

    dang! sounds like a whirlwind awesome time. i had been waiting for this one 🙂 so great.

  • Carlen

    November 3, 2011 at 1:12 pm Reply

    So incredibly jealous of this experience, and I love that you ended the trip with brunch at Tipsy Parson. I’m friends with the executive chef there, and finally had a chance to eat there in June when I was in the city. So delish!

  • Madison

    November 5, 2011 at 1:49 pm Reply

    The wallpapes is from Anthropologie. I love it.

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