By Mawuse Ziegbe
New York Fashion Week is like a flu virus: most people are affected and the city is overrun with lots of sickly-looking people pretending they're extra fabulous. But, it's an NYC rite of passage and like all stupid traditions you have to do it once. I have one of those freakishly put-together friends who just mounted her first fashion show for the Spring 2009 collection of Harlan Bel. Underfed waifs stalked down the runway to the startlingly cool sounds of The Pharcyde's "Passing Me By," The Knife's "Heartbeats," "I Belong To You" by Lenny Kravitz and "Blow Ya Mind" by Styles P. The clothing was a survey of sleekly architectural construction; prim minidresses detailed with sharp pleats, daringly asymmetrical cocktail frocks and pin-thin slacks with choppy, low-slung waistbands. The types of looks you might find in the Judy Jetson Resort Collection but not at all cartoony and comfortingly wearable.
However, the lead-up to the show was the most nerve-wracking thing, not because I was involved in the process but because I had to show up to the damn thing looking, well...good. After stressing for days, I finally settled on a beige tunic, shorts and these vintage-y black and white flats that made me look like an abolitionist out for a lark. I was all smug until I arrived and realized that next to real fashionistas my "effortless downtown chic" looked more like "useless bumpkin," complete with the sad clown shoes. Good thing the actual show was no longer than 20 minutes and I was free to run off into the night where I could be judged not by ability to accessorize but by my hearty alcohol tolerance.
Fashion week is all about celebrities - none of whose shiny Botoxed glamour I've witnessed up close - but some of them still release music on these flat donut thingys called compact discs. Solange's second album, Sol-Angel and the Hadley Street Dreams is the best reason I've seen for not stopping at one child. Beyoncé (or Robot Knowles as I like to call her) is all oiled abs and billowy hair extensions and not enough actual personality for my taste. But Sol-Angel swings from downy, Mid-century soul to ethereal trip-hop to languid, churchy blues; all powered by Solange's plucky vocals and candid, catchy lyrics. On this record she gets mad, ecstatic, vulnerable and high on "life." Plus, she prances about in obscene amounts of chiffon like an extra in Mahogany. Lovely.
And since I have a degree in Political Science and not fussing over dry-clean only clothes, my only other fashion week event was a Barack Obama fundraiser at Sutra. Questlove lorded over the club crammed with supporters still gussied up from the tents. It was fun and all but I'm just praying that America judges the candidates on their ability to lead and not the just their runway potential. Although Obama has it sewn up either way.