by VICTORIA HENLEY
Initially produced in 1943 by the New York Dress Institute’s press director, Eleanor Lambert with the intent to highlight American designers for fashion journalists, New York Fashion Week has evolved, rebranded, faced the threat of obsoletion, and returned stronger than ever, some 79 years following its inception.
New York Fashion Week is now not only an outlet for designers to attain unprecedented exposure through a prestigious and internationally recognizable platform, but also a culmination of models and influencers, diverse in ethnicity, height, size, and age, and a networking symposium for a plethora of creatives and entrepreneurs working in many facets of the fashion arena.
Accompanied by Lynn (house photographer for the Magnifique brand), I attended February’s fashion week as a model, designer/presenter, and a booking liaison for models, all while making time to scope out the best place to stay while in the city for work or play as well as the NYFW productions and designers you simply cannot miss.
Note, at the time this article is written, many indoor activities in New York City—such as dining– will require you to flash your COVID-19 vaccination card.
WHERE TO STAY
HILTON GARDEN INN WEST 35th STREET
Located in Midtown Manhattan, under a mile from New York landmarks, Herald Square, Times Square, and the Empire State Building, The Hilton Garden Inn on West 35th Street offers a prime vantage point of all the NYC excitement paired with the Hilton hotel brand customer service and hospitality which you have grown to know and love.
Only five minutes away from the legendary Herald Square Macy’s flagship store (the largest department store in the United States), you are sure to never experience a dull moment during your stay. Conveniently located to all of New York Fashion Week’s top production venues, The Hilton Garden Inn on West 35th Street is the premier hotel choice while in town for Fashion Week, as you’ll find most booking, shooting, and show locations are only a brisk walking distance from the hotel. A minimal distance from many top Broadway Theaters, a delectable selection of eateries, art galleries, and all the shopping your heart desires, The Hilton Garden Inn on West 35 Street is also the place to choose if you are simply visiting “The Big Apple” for fun, offering a front row seat to all of the concrete jungle’s biggest and best “bucket list” attractions.
Should you plan to be one of the 3.5 million people to visit New York City for the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you’ll want to book your stay months in advance as the Hilton Garden Inn on West 35 Street is consistently booked up during this season due to its optimal views of the parade, which is routed along the streets encompassing the hotel.
The hotel features a friendly, knowledgeable staff, available to answer your questions and fulfill your needs 24/7 as well as an array of convenient amenities to ensure your stay is as comfortable and relaxing as possible in “The City That Never Sleeps.”
Magnifique Showcase brought dozens of models from the team along with us to this season’s New York Fashion Week for a special “Magnifique” room rate block, and we received tremendous feedback from our team regarding clean rooms, convenient location, helpful staff, and a great group discounted rate.
The rooms featured king beds and double beds with a variety of views. Most rooms featured amenities like a 49-inch flat screen TV and Wi-Fi, and many came with microwaves and coffee makers.
Mobility and hearing accessible rooms also are available.
THE FITNESS CENTER
A 24 hour-accessible fitness center, offering a vast array of top-of-the-line standard fitness equipment (including treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bicycles, free weights, yoga mats for stretching, and more) are available in the Lower Lobby area of the hotel. Other features include wall to wall mirroring, numerous charger outlets to stay connected, and a flatscreen television to keep you entertained as you get your daily cardio quota.
Several meeting rooms located on the lower level of the hotel are available for intimate office gatherings, PowerPoint presentations, corporate meetings, or small family events. Regardless of your needs, The Hilton Garden Inn on West 35 Street has you covered with numerous customized meeting room rental options.
An elegantly designed, beautifully decorated bar is available in the lobby, serving a variety of coffees, pastries and muffins and breakfast items in the morning with a selection of fine wines, specialty cocktails, craft brews, and liquors available during the evenings.
Should you find yourself in a more outdoorsy mood, make your way outside to the patio to enjoy colorful views of the “I Love NY” mural and all the busy city street life.
THE LOBBY SHOPPE
Accessible 24 hours, the shop in the lobby offers a wide selection of microwaveable entrees, canned and bottled libations, snacks, assorted sundries, and NYC Themed novelties, as well as a microwave for your convenience.
The business center offers a computer with high-speed internet access and a printer so you can check into your flights, print your boarding passes and handle all of the “out of the office” needs you may have during your stay.
The lobby offers two lounging/ relaxation areas to unwind after a long commute or to wait for your departure, complete with comfortable couches and spacious tables, with large flat screen TVs and views of the high energy city streets.
PHONE NUMBER: (212) 594- 3310
NYFW STANDOUT SHOWS, DESIGNERS, AND EVENTS
Jewelry designer, Diana Winuk, the visionary artist behind the brand, Artistically Designed by D, brought a dynamic blend of crystal chokers, statement earrings , infinity necklaces, multi-tier classic freshwater Pearl sets and signature wire wrapped chokers with natural gemstones to the runway for accessories which exquisitely complimented each individual wardrobe item shown throughout the season. Artistically Designed by D has previously been featured as a headlining and multi award winning jewelry designer at Victoria Henley’s Magnifique Runway showcase and networking events. You can follow the brand on Instagram @dianawinuk1 and send a message to order your own unique, custom made, one of a kind piece.
ATELIER AND GUEST RETAILER
Sarah Ake, the ingenious designer and CEO behind the Colorado based label, Sake Clothing (@_sake_clothing), known for her innovative and wildly unique approach to design and Holland’s Luxury Apparel (@hollands_luxury_apparel), featuring a mind blowing line up of Sherri Hill, Mon Cheri, Dave and Johnny, Johnathan Kayne formals and more served as our respective headlining guest atelier and retailer for the February shows.
Specializing in emblazoned suit jackets for all genders, accessories, and high fashion apparel, Elie Balleh is recognized globally as a leading high fashion brand. My tailored, black, androgynous jacket during my opening NYFW booking was accented by beaded, gold tone, leaf appliqués and complimented with an ornate updo, smoky eye, and nude lip by the award-winning Make Over Artistry by Donna Sousa team.
PHOTOS by HIDEKI AONO
My second booking day at NYFW began with an on-location mini editorial shoot with Lynn Henley Photography (@lynnhenleyphotography) at the Hilton Garden Inn on West 35 Street featuring an army green jumpsuit paired with a structured black cape, accessorized by a leather and silver black statement choker and dangle earrings by Artistically Designed by D.
THE SOCIETY FASHION WEEK
Owned and operated by powerhouse couple, Brady and Krissy King (also presidents of Platoon Media Group), Society Fashion Week has quickly and quietly achieved notoriety as a top fashion production company not only in New York, but also many other major Fashion Markets. The last two Society Fashion Week events have been produced onsite at The Angel Orensanz Foundation, an exquisite venue widely revered as the top event destination for fashion production in New York City.
Standout production members include production coordinator, Luis Lopez, who kept things organized and streamlined while fostering a positive team morale, and the incredible bartending staff, who kept spirits high with a wide selection of fine domestic and import wines, cocktails, and more served up with smiles and unparalleled hospitality.
The Society Fashion Week opened with the ultimate kickoff party, the Ice Ball, featuring a stellar line up of formal gowns, suit jackets and more by MM Milano, The Brand.
NYFW Fashion Week, Day 3, began bright and early with a showing at Prestige NYFW, produced at the legendary Gotham Hall, featuring a beaded feathered formal gown and a burgundy organza show-stopping ball gown designed by Drisha’s Closet.
The day commenced with a workshop I instructed for the global production powerhouse team behind The Fashion Life Tour (follow and connect with them @thefashionlifetour on Instagram) (spearheaded by the inimitable team of Julie, GG, and Kiara Belen from Cycle 19– my season– of “America’s Next Top Model,” and I was absolutely honored to instruct runway, posing, networking, and branding skills to dozens of the company’s model mentees.
My evening bookings consisted of walks at The Society Fashion Week for Will Franco (wearing a glistening green sequined strapless gown), Imperial Legacy Clothing (donning both a black and white romper and an A-Line casual dress) and a gold tone sequin party dress by Venezuelan label, Idol Jose.
Day 4 comprised arguably the busiest and most high-octane booking day as nearly 50 Magnifique Models from across the United States convened to walk the runway at the Magnifique Presentation by Victoria Henley at the Beautiful You Fashion Tour, produced by master director Mr. Debonair, on location at the Stewart Hotel Ballroom.
Shortly after the conclusion of our Beautiful You show, my intrepid team and I trekked all the way across town for an appearance at The Fashion Life Tour segment of Indie Fashion Week, featuring a sleek runway aesthetic and a staggering line up of top-notch press and media. Upon conclusion of the evening’s shows, the night was far from over as select models and I braved the (literally ) freezing temperatures and made our way back to Times Square for a series of editorial photo shoots with Lynn Henley Photography amid the dazzling technicolor billboards, which lasted until around 1 a.m.
Day 5, the final official day of NYFW production, consisted of walks for Elizabeth Cordelia Clothing (featuring a sophisticated pastel pink dress with royal blue butterfly accessories), a body conscious black frock with a pleather jacket by eco-friendly, sustainable line, Funari New York, specializing in luxury matching human and canine couture (I was accompanied by the adorable chihuahua model/influencer, “Little Bear”, rocking an edgy ensemble, complete with over-sized gold trimmed aviator sunglasses), as well as walks for upscale Indian designer, Saima Chaudry, another walk for the equally comfortable and stylish Imperial Legacy line, and an edgy, unconventional jacket and pant set for Phorpopes, who closed out the NYFW live shows with an unforgettable impact with a live marriage proposal during the model finale walk.
My incredible fashion week experience ended with a campaign/billboard shoot for Heritage India Fashions, owned and operated by Prashant Goyal (an Indian designer who has been internationally published in Elle, Cosmo, Glamour and more) featuring three total looks: an emerald green coat with gold accents and buttons, a show stopping two piece gold tone floral dress with traditional jewelry, and a cozy blue crocheted sweater with a merlot colored mini skirt.
Fast paced, unpredictable, and indescribably exciting, New York Fashion Week is the nation’s premier fashion event and the Feb 2022 season delivered on every single level.
Special thanks to Lynn Henley Photography, all the Magnifique Models, the production teams/liaisons and more for yet another outstanding New York Fashion Week experience.
Victoria Henley is a former contestant on “America’s Next Top Model,” a host on iHeartRadio and a regular contributor to CTFashionMag.com.