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Reporter’s Notebook: Behind the Scenes at New York Fashion Week

by Jenn Menendez, Manager-Communications Content Production

Spectrum News NY1 arts reporter Stephanie Simon has been covering New York Fashion Week for nearly 20 years. That’s a lot of runways, dresses and stilettos.

Stephanie, who also covers arts, music, and culture for NY1, mines New York City for compelling stories about fashion this time of year in order to bring the exclusive world to her viewers. In our ongoing Reporter’s Notebook series, Stephanie takes us behind the scenes at one of winter’s hottest events.

It’s More Than the Clothes

Stephanie Simon at Fashion Week

Fashion Week has been “democratized” through social media, says Stephanie. It’s no longer just for the elite.

Charter Newsroom: What makes Fashion Week exciting to cover?

Stephanie: One of the fun things is seeing the evolution, seeing how designers evolve over time, and maybe move into something far out and then come back to their core vision. It’s also fun to see the young up-and-coming designers make their mark. It is not just the clothes.

It’s the lights. It’s the styling. It’s the music. It’s the sequence of the models, the sequence of the look. They are really creating a mood and creating an excitement. It is a show.

Fashion Week Draws More Than Just Celebrities

Charter Newsroom: Are the runway audiences star-studded?

Stephanie: The celebrity thing has sort of gone up and down over the years. When I started it was actually a lot more socialites and you didn’t see a ton of celebrities. A few years later it was all celebrities. Then some seasons it was more the bloggers and social media influencers. And now I think it’s just a mix. There’s been an evening out of the audience.

Charter Newsroom: What are some of your favorite Fashion Week moments?

Stephanie: Interviewing Bill Blass, because he was such a legend. When you come from somewhere other than New York City, just to meet people who have names you grew up with. Oscar de la Renta, is in that same category, Carolina Herrera. Because you don’t know them as human beings when you’re a fashion fan growing up. They are these names. They’re labels. Then you meet them and chat with them about their collections and get to be in the front row, seeing their passion and vision realized. It’s pretty amazing.

Anything Can Create a Fashion Statement

Charter Newsroom: This year’s Fashion Week coincided with a major winter storm. We are picturing a lot of high heels in the snow. Does the weather get in the way?

Stephanie: Having lived through another snowstorm that landed during Fashion Week, I can tell you people come and they make it work. It’s one more way to make a fashion statement. People might wear hilarious muffs, crazy hats. They might layer in an unusual way or come with outrageous slickers or funny boots. But the show will go on. I can tell you, just like on Broadway, the show will go on.

Dressing For Fashion Week Is No Chore

Charter Newsroom: Does fashion week inspire your dress, or make you want to pull out anything special from your closet?

Stephanie: I definitely try to think about what looks good instead of what the trend is. I don’t think it would make sense for me to come out in something that is super trendy but doesn’t actually look good on me. I don’t think I would be sending the right message to the viewers and we definitely try to give them great fashion tips and insight.

I do borrow a lot of stuff during Fashion Week. I’m wearing a lot of Theia this season. Don O’Neill is the creative director there and he’s dressed everyone from Oprah down the line of celebrities. He creates clothes that look good on a lot of different figures. So I think he’s a go-to for me. I’m short, so I’m not going to be wearing something that a 5-foot-10 model is going to be wearing.

In Fashion, Everything Comes Back

Charter Newsroom: Do you have a favorite Fashion Week story?

Stephanie: One of my favorite stories that I’ve done in all these years was just this week. … A Brooklyn designer, originally from Trinidad, created a zero waste collection.

She starts with remnants that other designers bought and then didn’t want. Right away, there is no buying anything new. It was going to wind up in a landfill. She takes it, she designs the dress in a certain way so that anything that is excess can be reused. It’s not cut in a way where now it’s a scrap. And anything that is leftover gets used in another dress or in a scarf.

It sounds kind of new-agey, but actually this is how clothing was always made probably up until the 1960s. This is how your great-grandparents made clothing and now we’re, re-learning that.

Be sure to watch the video above and follow Spectrum News NY1 Fashion Week Coverage here.