Why Fashion's Most Daring Moment Was Never On Instagram

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When said out loud, "Fashion Week" is a double entendre — and for anyone who's ever been a part of all the action, feeling weak is not only par for the course, it's often the reason we love fashion to begin with. So, in honor of the moments of chaos, beauty, and excitement that made us feel weak, we present My Fashion Week-ness: a compilation of accounts from some of the industry's biggest players. They're spilling their most memorable stories from Fashion Weeks gone by, and the ones that keep them coming back for more.

Joe Zee is not only one of the fashion industry's most respected authorities; he's someone who can remember when images of new collections didn’t start hitting your Instagram feed before the model even got to the end of the runway. Not too many of us can say the same. In this edition of My Fashion Week-ness, the Yahoo Style editor-in-chief (formerly of Elle, Allure, and W) fills us in on one of his favorite NYFW moments from the '90s — one that was undeniably Instagram gold. You know, if only such a thing had existed.

“I started out as an assistant at Allure, but when I became a real market editor, one of my first shows I ever went to was about 20 years ago, in ’94. And, one of my most memorable Fashion Week shows ever was a show I went to for Isaac [Mizrahi]. It was the one he did that you ultimately saw in Unzipped...where the fashion show happened all on stage, behind the scrim. So, all of the backstage was on the stage. Back then, it was like Linda, Christy, Naomi, Carla Bruni, Claudia, Cindy...all of these models were literally stripping off their clothes and changing into their next outfits behind the see-through scrim with dressers, hair, and makeup. 

"When I describe it now, it sounds like, 'Oh, it’s no big deal,' but this was 1994. There was no social media back then. The fashion industry was very much a mystery. You didn’t see anything that went on backstage. You didn’t know anything that was going on. It was all about the supermodels. And, all of a sudden, Isaac put it all right there for you to see. Girls were in their underwear. I mean, today girls in their underwear are no big deal, but back then, it was like, 'Oh my God, this is crazy! Scandalous!' And, I loved it — it was like literally seeing the magic of fashion happen right before your eyes. Saying that today is hard because everything is on TV, everything is online, everything is on public view. 

"20 years later, I’m stilling talking about it. I interviewed Isaac recently, and we talked about that very show and Unzipped and all the impact it’s had... It’s great. I mean, that was social media long before social media. That was an Instagram pic waiting to happen, long before Instagram. And, it was probably one of my best experiences. ” 

For more from Joe Zee and his take on New York Fashion Week, check out Yahoo Style's daily, lunchtime, round-table talk, now through Wednesday the 18.
For all things Fashion Week around the world — including street style snaps, designer news, and the trends you'd actually wear — head over to Refinery29's Fashion Month hub.

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