by VICTORIA HENLEY
Top tier productions, incomparably beneficial networking opportunity, and a live, up close and personal look at the season’s hottest trends long before they make their way to stores, has drawn millions of fashion enthusiasts and professionals to New York Fashion Week since the first- ever official “Fashion Week” production in 1943.
Hundreds of productions throughout the city have produced events since that landmark initial showcase; However, 2020 marked an unprecedented NYFW hiatus as Sept 2020 (and most of the Feb 2021 events, aside from a handful of smaller presentations ) were cancelled due to the pandemic.
September 2021 officially marked the return of the United States’ most prestigious fashion related events, as models, designers, stylists, photographers, and other professionals from across the globe eagerly made their way back to “The Big Apple” for the first official New York Fashion Week since disaster took the world by storm.
This season’s NYFW had a palpable energy that felt like more than merely a fashion show…this season felt like a comeback, a renewal of hope for those in the fashion community, and a grand reunion of people within an industry whom have built, over the years, not just working relationships, but also friendships.
I scoured the best of the best productions, venues, designers, and places to stay on your next New York City for CTFashionMag and iHeart Radio.
WHERE TO STAY:
THE HILTON GARDEN INN ON WEST 35th St.
The Hilton Garden Inn on West 35th is a sleek, contemporary hotel conveniently located in midtown Manhattan, merely steps away from some of New York’s most iconic and popular attractions, including the Empire State Building, the world -famous Macy’s at Herald Square, Fifth Avenue shopping, Broadway Theatres, Madison Square Garden and a myriad of restaurants and upscale nightlife attractions.
The hotel’s location was extremely well-suited to all of our NYFW bookings, the majority of which were well within walking distance, and the picturesque views offered a stunning atmosphere for us to begin and end each day.
During our busy and stressful booking days, the hotel staff could not have been more accommodating, always standing by to help with directions, assist with special requests, and generally go out of the way to ensure that our stay was both pleasant and comfortable.
Compared to most rooms you will find within the Manhattan vicinity (and especially nearby in Times Square), the rooms were spacious enough to accommodate our ample garment bags and racks we are required to bring with us for Fashion Week, and the beds and linens were extremely comfortable.
Included in your stay is a 24 hour fitness center, business center tablet and printer, and onsite amenities include a newly reopened lobby bar ,a 24 hour shop, offering assortments of brand name snacks, soft drinks, and canned libations, as well as a coffee machine, serving up assortments of caffeinated beverages available for purchase.
Two-hundred-ninety-eight modern guest rooms are available (including two luxurious suites, which book up quickly due to high demand, so please ask a front desk agent how to book a deluxe room today), each offering 49 inch flat panel televisions (with a wide array of mainstream channels, as well as the exclusive to NYC Broadway Channel, which gives viewers an inside scoop on all the best shows to see during your visit, many of them located only a couple blocks from the hotel) , refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and alarm clock radio with MP3 connectivity.
Business amenities include a large work desk with adjustable lighting, ergonomic chair, a security safe, and you can take care of work with peace of mind as complimentary high speed wired and wireless internet access is available, along with a secure remote print station.
The beds are sizable, and the Serta mattresses offered up some of the most restful sleep I have ever had during my NYFW bookings.
Fully handicap accessible restrooms are also available , and if you forget essential items and basic toiletries, the friendly onsite staff is on standby and ready to help around the clock.
Thanksgiving is an extremely popular time to visit the Hilton Garden Inn on West 35 street, as the hotel is conveniently located to the parade route, and many of the rooms offer a prime vantage point of the world famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Whether traveling for work, fun, or a little bit of both, The Hilton Garden Inn is your destination to feel right at home and get some rest and relaxation in “The City That Never Sleeps.”
PHONE NUMBER: (212)594-3310
FASHION WEEK “BEST OF THE BEST” SHOWS AND DESIGNERS:
ARTISTICALLY DESIGNED BY D:
Debuting as our official jewelry designer of NYFW ‘21, Artistically Designed by D features an ornate wire wrapping technique orchestrated on precious metal types, hand-made and masterfully designed by visionary designer, Diana Winuk. Featuring well known and exotic all natural gemstones and creative pendants, including unique juxtapositions and shapes, Artistically Designed by D offers just the right accessories to pull together any wardrobe look and make it pop. Be sure to look for Artistically Designed by D on the runway at upcoming Magnifique Runway Shows as well as affiliate showcases across the US.
Hosted at Gotham Hall (formerly known as “The Hiers Building” , one of the most brilliantly designed pieces of architecture in New York, The PRESTIGE NYFW shows largely feature budding models, ranging in age from baby and toddler to tween and preteen, wearing high end couture pieces from skilled international ateliers.
RACE AUSTYN ( a burgeoning teen designer, @sunflowerbyraceaustyn) created my finale piece of a distressed denim jacket over a skintight black mini dress with silver embellishments, while a dazzling beaded yellow gown by masterclass label DRISHA’S CLOSET (@drishacloset) and a custom headpiece by CHRISANTHI COUTURE (@chrisanthicouture) stole the spotlight.
I felt like a queen in a regal hot pink gown with gem encrusted detail and a detachable cape by accomplished teen model and designer, Katie Davis of CHARJEAN COUTURE (@charjeancouture), who had the audience buzzing with several premier shows throughout the opening day of Fashion Week.
THE SOCIETY FASHION WEEK (@thesocietyfashionweek) has been steadily building a reputation as one of the top fashion production companies in the United States and made their post-pandemic “comeback” with a bang , with nearly all sold out shows, featuring a wide variety of designers, top media outlets, and reality TV personalities from accross the globe.
Owned and operated by the dynamic husband and wife duo of Brady and Krissy King, The Society Fashion Week brought all the good vibes and high fashion to the beautiful and iconic Angel Orensanz Foundation.
I kicked off my SOCIETY walks with a bang, quick changing for an array of artistically gifted designers including BIG LOMMOZ (@biglommoz_couture), featuring breezy, yet chic casual wear from Ghana, SMOCK ME (@smockme), a fun ready to wear line featuring vivid colors and a 90’s aesthetic, HEMISTRY (@hemistrydesigns) created by acclaimed photographer, designer and magazine editor, Christina Weeks, an edgy presentation with a “Beginning of the End” theme.
My second day of bookings with THE SOCIETY began at 10:30 am with stellar shows by ABNOIRMAL (@abnoirmal), where I donned an unbelievably comfortable and fashionable peridot colored shirt and pant set, WANDERING WILLOW (@wandering.willow.designs), highlighting bold & daring bohemian body jewelry, and Wav3s (@wav3offivial), a minimalist line featuring muted tones and streamlined patterns.
My 1:30 pm shows included walks for the gothic line Dark Jasmine (@darkjaminefashion), where a noir twist is given to the traditional “Little Black Dress” and StarLife Fashion Company (@starlifefashionco), starring skintight styles and bold, loud prints for both women and men.
Star Life Fashion Images: Mike Chaiken
Upon the conclusion of our afternoon shows, @lynnhenleyphotography and I made our way to the iconic Grand Central Station and Times Square to shoot some of our Magnifique Models in stunning couture from SAKE CLOTHING (@_sake_clothing) Holland’s Pageantry and Formals (@hollands_pageant_formals) and House of Bobbi (@houseofbobbi), a brand beloved by social media influencers for its big and bold styles for high fashion editorial fun that lasted well into the night. Lynn Henley Photography took primary photos while Glow Art Photography (@glowartphotography) photographed his own technicolor, brand, that can also be seen at most Magnifique Shows. Mike Chaiken (@mikechaiken ) of CTFashionMag and Studio Prime Time (@studioprimetime) served as our second shooters.
Photo credit: Studio Prime Time
We arrived bright and early to the Stewart Hotel for the BEAUTIFUL YOU FASHION TOUR (@beautifulyou_fashiontour) on Sunday for the Magnifique presentation featuring Glow Art and a variety of designs by Victoria Henley and Magnifique affiliated designers and retailers.
Following our Beautiful You presentation, I headed to the New Yorker Hotel to emcee shows for the global production platform, The Fashion Life Tour’s (@thefashionlifetour) 4 p.m. shows in conjunction with Indie Fashion, a global production platform making its official NYFW premier debut. 4 p.m. walks included bookings for Saima Chaudry, Burning Guitars, Get Haute by Jessica Surls and Shameless Opinion, each bringing a completely unique vision and aesthetic to the stage. I walked the “Showstopper” look (a spandex one piece swimsuit covered in intricate graphic art, featuring a flowing train and Diana Winuk accessories) for artistic mastermind, Archana Aneja, and I closed out the evening shows for the Indie Fashion Show production, wearing a dazzling crystal encrusted bodysuit paired with a detachable black tulle skirt.
Photo Credits: Lynn Henley Photography and Pix by GG
My two days off from walks were filled with fashion editorial shoots, starting off with a downtown NYC Shoot with acclaimed Getty Images photographer, Thomas Concordia (@thomasconcordia) featuring jewelry from premiere statement jewelry brand (always booking social media influencers), HOUSE OF BOBBI (@houseofbobbi) paired with various runway looks from Big Lommoz Couture, Glow Art by Ron Vestal, Star Life Fashion Company, Saima Chaudry, Sunflower by Rayce Austyn, and more.
Photo credit: Thomas Concordia
A long trek through the rainy streets of NYC led back to the Stewart Hotel, which served as the location for my evening shoot with photographer, magazine editor, and The Parachute Goddess Project (@the_parachute_goddess_project) founder, Laylonna Hurley (@embracebeautymagazine), featuring a British military grade, floor sweeping, pink parachute worn as a skirt, and paired with various colored corsets, head-dresses, and jaw dropping Artistically Designed by D accessories.
Photo Credit: Lynn Henley Photography and Laylonna Hurley)
NYFW was drawn to a close with a busy day of fittings and the subsequent shows for New York Live, a full production show by William Michael Reid, on location at the swanky Mezzanine venue in New York’s financial district.
My opening walk for Ella Price highlighted flowing baby blue casual wear, an edgy and futuristic take on tropical wear by Cecil of Khaos Atlanta, a striking and elegant silk wrap dress by Sainte Dame, a rainbow colored bikini by Alvertis Alexander and a forest green colored, exquisitely tailored evening gown by Malcom Staples.
Red carpet photo ops, networking, and many grateful hugs and handshakes were had during the closing of a memorable and productive fashion week, celebrating a community of professionals thankful to return after an unwanted and unwelcome break.
NYFW was not only a successful platform for couture creatives to elevate and showcase their product, but also a statement that we can all join forces and come back stronger than ever, even after overwhelming adversity.
Instagram @victoriahenley @lynnhenleyphotography @vickilynnpecans
Facebook.com/Backstagepasswithvictoria (www.iheartradio.com, IG @iheartradio, @fcbradio)
Victoria Henley is host of Backstage Pass on IHeart Radio/FCB Radio and a former contestant on “America’s Next Top Model.”