The Magazine

McFashion Week

A faltering economy can't stop the fabulousness.

Mar 9, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 24 • By SAMANTHA SAULT
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The industry was hoping for an Obama appearance at Fashion Week, and the press had been wondering for weeks if she would attend. She didn't--but Chicago boutique owner and de facto Obama stylist Ikram Goldman did, along with the White House social secretary, Desiree Rogers, who sat in the front row next to Anna Wintour at Thakoon, one of Michelle Obama's favorite designers.

Ikram Goldman attended the Zero + Maria Cornejo show, among others, and high-profile editors and fashionista guests in black arrived at the Robert Miller Gallery in Chelsea to cram into a small, stark space that smelled like fresh paint. Cornejo, who custom-designed a purple jacket that Obama wore on the inaugural train tour, described her collection as based on the "juxtaposition .  .  . of hard and soft, feminine and masculine." It featured black jumpsuits and dresses, dramatic draping and hoods, and a touch of vibrant blue. The critics loved it, and press rep Gabrielle Sirkin later explained that, although the company had sent out the same number of invitations as last season, the show "definitely got a bigger attendance than usual."

Comparable crowds gathered near the ropes outside the main tent an hour early for Narciso Rodriguez's 9 P.M. show. "I am not missing this show!" one young man with a camera told his companions--although PR reps were still scrambling at the last minute to fill a few seats. The designs were far more flattering than the black-and-red Rodriguez dress that Michelle Obama wore on Election Night; the finale dresses elicited oohs and aahs and earned much post-show praise. But I'd be surprised if the first lady wears the flashy colored silk dresses with black beading and lace details.

After the show a designer, like every designer, can only hope for favorable reviews before buyers visit the showrooms to order items from the runways. As this show ended, the elated crowd--including rapper Kanye West and French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld--filed out of the tents into the cold Manhattan streets, where Sale! signs adorn the racks and windows of New York's retailers, begging shoppers to buy.

"Everything is changing," said Reem Acra. "Everything, including fashion."

Samantha Sault is a deputy online editor at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.