That One Time Caroline Snuck into Fashion Week

Illustration by Mats Meyer

Illustration by Mats Meyer

This article is an excerpt from “Making it in Manhattan: The Beginner’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the World of Fashion.”

Chapter 11: The Sneak Attack

I hate to admit it, but I have done the unthinkable. I’ve shown up to a show and snuck in without a ticket and ended up sitting front row! The fashion week show I previously told you about when I went as a “stylist” is the same one I snuck into with my friend who I mentioned I met up with for lunch. My friend went to college in the City and was interning for a blogger at the time. Interning for a blogger during fashion week is like the Holy Grail, especially if it’s a blogger who doesn’t live in New York and doesn’t want to make the trip up; bloggers might only want to make the trip to New York to attend the bigger shows (especially if its February and freezing), so interns are (most likely) given the other tickets! Getting invited to fashion week, even if it is a smaller show, you always want to go or send someone in your place to build a good relationship with the designer and their team. So my friend was extremely lucky and got to attend a ton of shows in her boss’s place.

I remember being in my friend’s apartment with her an hour before one of the shows at Lincoln Center. Her boss had emailed her an invite, and she started convincing me she could get us both in with one ticket! Believe me, I was skeptical, and believe me, I was terrified of getting in trouble, but there is just nothing like attending a fashion show, so after a lot of her reassuring me we would be fine, I was in.

Our plan sounded super simple: we would print out two copies of the same ticket (yes, that’s when people actually printed their tickets and didn’t just scan them on their phones). She would walk in first and I would walk in a few minutes behind. Her ticket would scan but mine, of course, would not since it had already been used, but security would just think the scanner was acting up and let me in. Sounded like the perfect plan at the time, but nothing ever goes as planned in life, especially when you’re running on a New York City high (and not necessarily thinking clearly). Something was bound to go wrong with our half-baked plan.

When we first showed up at Lincoln Center, all was going well. My friend walked up, scanned her ticket, and went right in, then a few minutes later I strolled up with the second copy. I tried my best to act confident, like I wasn’t doing anything wrong, except when I scanned my ticket, security wasn’t as ready to just let me in as we had thought they would be. I was faced with many questions. “What’s your name?” “Are you sure this ticket hasn’t already been used?” “Who are you covering for?” Gulp. My heart was racing. I thought, is there such a thing as fashion week jail? Because if there is, I was totally going to end up in there. The key, though, to the whole plan was to play it cool and really act like I belonged there and wasn’t doing anything wrong. Pretending like you’re meant to be there rather than like you got caught is usually the best option. Thankfully, it was only a few minutes until show time and they were being bombarded with other problems, so I was able to slip through the cracks when my friend walked out and exclaimed, “Oh, there you are!” and just dragged me in through the crowd. Amid the confusion, no one said anything—we were in!

Inside the venue was really dark and my friend’s ticket was slated for front row. I didn’t really have a ticket, so I asked her where I should stand. She convinced me to just sit next to her in the front row and play it cool, easier said than done, obviously. I don’t think there was any way I could really “play it cool” with the thought of getting in trouble at fashion week (of all places) racing around in my mind. As more and more people poured in, I was freaking out that someone was going to confront me and take me to “fashion week jail,” unglamorous mug shot and all. When the PR people running the show walked by, I just kept my head down hoping they wouldn’t notice me.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the lights dimmed and the show started. I had made it, I was sitting in my first front row seat at New York fashion week. (Please don’t pinch me this time, I never want to wake up!) The show was incredible and made even sweeter because I was front row, and, oh, did I mention there were gift bags?

Full disclosure: I am not recommending you sneak into a fashion show because 1. I’ve never been so nervous/anxious/sweaty in my life, 2. I don’t want you getting into trouble, and 3. Earning your ticket in feels one thousand times better because there is nothing like knowing you are supposed to be there. (But, I will say it proved to be an incredible experience and a really good story to tell.) A few months later, a short video came out recapping the show. Lo and behold, whose faces were in the background? My friend and I were spotted on film! Ha. To this day I still talk about our “sneak attack” and how far we’ve come since then.

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