A Random Recollection of a Spring 1997 Collection

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While we New Yorkers can’t tell by looking out the window (snow again? really?), yesterday, March 20, marked the official beginning of spring. What does that mean to you? Does it make you all warm and fuzzy inside with thoughts of Easter bunnies, April showers and May flowers? Do you have your game face on, engulfed in sports magazines, reading up on spring training happenings and NFL draft predictions? Or are you eagerly awaiting the return of some of your favorite shows like Game of Thrones on March 31 and Mad Men on April 7? Whatever state spring puts you in, I think for the most part we can all agree it is a positive time. Kids are graduating and attending proms, moms and dads are clearing cobwebs during annual spring cleaning sessions and buds are blossoming on trees. It should also mark the official good-bye to that cold, cold weather that makes it almost impossible to get out of bed and go to the gym. Who am I kidding? I don’t go to the gym in the summer either and it has nothing to do with coldness but I’m sure I’m speaking to some of you when I say with spring comes a resurgence of exercise. What else comes with spring? Well after a very simple Google search of spring 2013 – yes, that’s what I did – I realize there is a topic I’ve failed to mention thus far: fashion. Sure enough the first couple results Google spit back at me all had to do with fashion trends, shows and colors. Which got me thinking about my experience with the world of fashion shows.

In high school, I worked for a mom and pop photography store on 5th Avenue. I would go there for a couple hours after school each day and do random jobs. The wife made dupes of 35mm slides for a list of clients she had had for decades, while the husband shot fashion photos at New York, Milan and Paris fashion weeks. So cool, right? He had a list of clients (that depleted every year thanks to the rise of Getty Images) like Nordstrom and some other fashion companies I had never heard of, and I would take care of labeling the slides on this fancy-pants slide labeler. Literally, this thing was from the ’80s and I giggle thinking about how far technology has come since then. I would enter the data, line by line, and watch the machine noisily shuffle through the slides to the sounds of an old computer printer – you know what I am talking about (http://www.soundsnap.com/tags/old_printer). I had my favorite designers – Betsey Johnson, Nicole Miller and Diane von Furstenberg, and I was proud to know these names way before they became staples in most of my friends’ closets. But the coolest was when I got to go to the New York fashion shows.

My boss would put in a request for an assistant to come with him and, really, all I did was carry in a step stool for him to sit on. Then I was off to explore. I remember the first time I went to a show – Calvin Klein circa 1997 – and I felt sooo cool wearing my badge and looking as professional as I could muster at 16. There was a turtleneck involved. Anyway, this was before all the shows were corralled under the tent at Bryant Park and you had to literally have a printed invitation (they were very elaborate) to know where to go. This one was at a vacant studio on West 16th street. Gwyneth Paltrow was there. The whole thing was so very New York. My other memories are vague (oh, if I had only had an iphone). One year I know I sat pretty close to Puff Daddy but I can’t remember at what show. Another time I went up to Alyssa Milano, who was sitting in the front row, and told her I loved her on Melrose Place, but again, I have no memory of what designer was about to take the stage. I remember Donna Karan was always about the pant suit and I remember being surprised to see polished collections from Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss as I didn’t realize they made more than street wear. I do remember the viciousness that was involved in getting a spot in the photographer section, as the vets banged elbows with the up and comers. It’s the same now on red carpets and when paparazzi vie for the latest photo of the Biebs – only the strong survive – and I remember on more than one occasion my boss ending up on the losing end (the floor) of a photographer brawl. But it sure was exciting. And it provided a nice element to my college resume.

So that’s my random recollection of a Spring 1997 collection. Which of these iconic designers still making fashion today is your favorite?

Betsey Johnson
Calvin Klein
Diane von Furstenberg
Donna Karan

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