Let These NYFW Attendees Give You The Lowdown On Who Really Sits Where

Photographed by Cait Oppermann.
Every Fashion Month brings with it heaps of showgoers who, for self-promotion's sake or otherwise, are in it to win it. Their mission is simple: Get snapped going into the show, get photographed sitting front row, and if they're lucky, get caught by Bill Cunningham on their way out. Filter, tag, share. Mission accomplished.

But the fans we met this season will give you hope that in the midst of the glamour and chaos stand those who see through the flashes. Fashion, to them, is not a show, but a sporting event. Not all is lost of the crowds, of course, because fashion is and always will be something to talk about, but these guys make watching from the back row that much more meaningful. Their stories reveal the softer side of the who's-who game and make you forget the elitism that comes between seated and standing. But most importantly, they're just happy to be there. Check them out in the slideshow ahead.
1 of 5
Photographed by Cait Oppermann.
Without a doubt, the best accessory at New York Fashion Week is a best friend. And when we met pals Shardé Green and Danielle Young at the Hervé Léger show, we could tell they were inseparable. As they clutched their invitations waiting for the show to start, their genuine excitement was infectuous.

“I’m the personal assistant to the CEO of the One Group," Green says. "I’m here because my friend is the director of the PR of the company who puts on the show. And honestly, I’m just happy to be here. I think it’s a great experience, no matter where you’re sitting. I don’t need to be photographed. That’s cool, sure, but it’s cooler to just be amongst other creative and stylish people. Wherever you sit — who cares? As long as you’re in the building."

And little did we know her plus-one was celebrating a type of Fashion Week anniversary on her own. “I’m a sales specialist for Gerard Darel," Young explains. "I’m with my dear friend, we went to FIT together. I consider myself very blessed. I’ve always wanted to be at NYFW. When I worked for Zac Posen, it was my first time ever sitting in a show. This is my first time after 10 years, so it’s exciting to be back in New York City in general. I’m so appreciative. I definitely want to see collections before they hit the stores because, potentially, I’d like to get into personal shopping. And don’t worry, I’ll probably be in the front row soon.”

Without missing a beat, Green chimed in to show her support: “And I’ll be her plus-one!” Aw, you guys...
2 of 5
Photographed by Cait Oppermann.
With the amount of publicity that surrounds Fashion Month, it’s sometimes hard to remember that fashion exists (and flourishes) outside of its four axes. There’s New York, London, Paris, and Milan, but for Hawley Dunbar of the Canadian fashion blog Sidewalk Hustle, Toronto Fashion Week is more than just side component of the bigger picture.

"We’ve been around for seven years, but this is my first NYFW," she says. "I have writers here, but I’ve never come. And honestly, I’m just really grateful to be here. Even though I’m in the back row, I don’t really care. I’m a big fan of Dion Lee and Bill Cunningham took my picture earlier! It’s amazing.

“I think women’s Fashion Week should take a page out of men’s Fashion Week, because men’s is so presentation-based. I think it’s so much better, because it’s not about anyone else except for the designer and their clothes, it gives everyone the chance to pop in and out, and there’s less of a rush. Obviously, I’d love to be in the front row. And I’m sure that if I was, I’d be like, 'Fuck all those bitches in the back!'”
3 of 5
Photographed by Cait Oppermann.
If there’s one thing attendees can agree upon, it's that there are tons of new ways to see the shows. This season, Refinery29 invited five members of the Lower East Side Girls Club to the Rebecca Minkoff runway. And while these showgoers might have had to kneel on their seats to see and their iPhones may have been bigger than their hands, the chance to attend a fashion show was a classroom dream turned reality.

Chaperoning the girls was Kayla Patrick, a Lower East Side Girls Club activity specialist. And as it turns out, it was her first fashion show, too. "I work with our youngest girls, the 8 and 9 year olds," she says. "They got to get their hair and makeup done at Refinery29. They all take our ‘Fashion Couture’ class, where they learn how to make clothing and all different kinds of products. In their sewing class, they’re working on a lot of products for our little store we have called La Tiendita, at Essex Market. We do a lot of pot holders, aprons, and little homey stuff, because the girls and the moms both help make those. And then, we sell them to help run the programs at the Girls Club.”

Her favorite part? The pre-show activities, of course. "It was really fun for me to help them put makeup on. Some things they didn’t know how to use and they’re kind of exploring a world they’ve never really been a part of, so it’s nice to come to these things. They get so excited, because they never know who they’re going to see. And it’s just nice to see them so happy.”
4 of 5
Photographed by Cait Oppermann.
For Alison Turka, the assistant fashion editor of More magazine, fashion shows are 50% pleasure, 50% work.

“I’m kind of by myself this weekend at all of the fashion shows," she says. "We’re a very small team — we’re three people — so we divide and conquer a lot of the times. When it comes to being in the front or the back, there’s a big drop-off in the pictures you’ll get. Even in the second row, it’s not nearly as good as the first. I mean, I would love to be in the first row, of course, but it’s always just good to be here and see it all anyway. I’m not gonna not go to a show just because I’m not in a great seat.”

And besides, whether you’re in the front row or the back, you never know who you might meet. “A lot of times, I’ll chat to the person next to me. Chances are, we’re going to the same show, so we'll share a cab," she continues. "It actually cracks me up. Probably half the people here all came from the same show, but they all have their own car. And it’s so cold outside, I’m just like, 'I’ll take whatever I can get.'”
5 of 5