My Best Fashion Week Friend Was An 8-Year-Old

Shot by Jack Pearce and Kenny Wu. Edited by Shane O'Neill
I've been attending Fashion Week on behalf of Refinery29 since I was in college. At first, I was an intern, starry-eyed and amazed. Then, I was intimidated. Then, I was frustrated. Then, I was jaded. It's not something I'm proud of. I love fashion — I love when the lights go down and the music comes up, and the photographers in the pit start freaking out at the front row for having their legs crossed. I love when the plastic cover gets peeled off the runway. I love the models confidently bouncing their way toward the flashes. I love the clothes. I love when the designers take their bows. And, I love so many of the people in the industry.

What I don't love is all the other stuff: the blisters, the occasional phoniness, the feeling of inadequacy that sometimes goes hand-in-hand with being invited (or not) to the overwhelming number of miss-it-and-you're-dead-to-the-world Fashion Week events. In order to shake off the NYFW scaries this season, I wanted to get back to my roots. To the days when I was nine years old, making dresses out of tablecloths and hair ties, dreaming about one day being part of the biz. So, I decided to see the world through those eager eyes once again.

I held a casting call for kids that want to be fashion designers when they grow up and surprised one of them with a trip to sit front row at Karen Walker's spring '16 runway show. What ensued was even better than expected. I got to know a sweet-as-sugar girl who wants to be known for her designs, yes, but also for her kindness. Wise beyond her years much? Eight-year-old Ava's excitement was palpable and contagious. Not only did she get to see what her dreams might look like when realized, but the entire front row of a must-see show got to see and feel the excitement of a fashion newbie again. Watch the journey and get inspired, too. I know I feel revitalized! Bring it on, fall/winter '16!
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