Don’t Make These Fashion Faux Pas at NY Fashion Week

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simon ungless
Simon Ungless

Photo Credit: Isabella Bejarano

San Francisco fashionistas, metrosexuals and lumbersexuals too, if you’re headed to New York for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, taking place Feb. 12-19 at Lincoln Center, you’ll first want to read these tips on navigating America’s premier style event from Simon Ungless, executive director of the School of Fashion, Academy of  Art University. Be it a fashion faux pas or trying to snag a coveted front-row seat, there are unspoken rules that must be observed.

Since 2005, AAU’s School of Fashion has premiered the collections of students and recent graduates during New York Fashion Week, and Ungless has produced all of the shows. This year, 15 M.F.A. students will debut their thesis collections on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 4 p.m. PT. You can check out some of their sketches below and find out how you can watch the show in case you’re not in Manhattan.

But first, Ungless answers our questions on the do’s and don’ts of New York Fashion Week, designed to help attendees achieve the style and preparedness of the pros.

HL: What kind of footwear would you recommend?
SU: For shows, a good heel or a Dior running shoe…then a sensible flat for the trek to the next venue. Change shoes just before you exit the taxi.

HL: What should all women have in their purses when attending the shows?
SU: iPhone with all social media apps downloaded and on, breath mints, colloidal silver spray (all those fashion kisses in hot venues are a breeding ground for bugs; spray liberally wherever you go), hand wipes for the same reason, Band-Aids for blisters. Le Mer sample sizes of concentrate—apply during and after shows—and a bottle of wellness herbal remedy.

HL: Should people dress up or down?
SU: Both. Dress up and down in each look you put together. It’s all about high mixed with low. Fashion Week is work for most people, and they are on the go from dawn until late at night. Don’t over do it with the dress up; people will know you are a rookie.

HL: When should show goers schedule their meals, and where you would recommend?
SU: First stop of the day should be Hu Kitchen at 78 5th Ave to stock up on healthy snacks and juices. Eating and sipping small amounts throughout the day is great for energy, especially their cold pressed coconut water. After the last show, head to Moscow 57 for late night Russian food, live music and a seriously non-fashion crowd.

HL: What are the best places to be seen and/or photographed?
SU: The steps of Lincoln Center are always swarmed with photographers, so if you’re looking to be photographed just take a stroll through Lincoln Center Plaza. Any of the numerous post-show parties are also good spots to be seen and have your photo taken for nightlife or society sites and blogs.

HL: How can women maintain fashionable attire in the extreme cold?
SU: Hire a driver for the week, have multiple looks in the car and layer up and layer down at will.

HL: How early should you show up to get a good seat?
SU: Most shows have assigned seating and don’t start admitting guests until 15 minutes before show time, so there’s no need to arrive early unless you need to budget time to be photographed outside the venue before the show.

HL: What trend would you advise attendees to avoid?
SU: Fur anything.

HL: Are the best shows usually in the AM or PM?
SU: Time of day is not an issue; there are good and bad shows at all times of the day.

HL: What is one tip you’d give to a fashion week first timer?
SU: Don’t wear sunglasses inside the venue unless you are an editor-in-chief at a major publication, and don’t try to sneak a front row seat if it’s not yours. It’s deeply embarrassing to have security move you.

With insider tips like these, AAU students will be in good hands with Ungless. He says the 15 students chosen stood out for their focus on transformation. “They are using fabric manipulation and printing techniques to change the inherent qualities of textiles to create new textures and surface qualities,” Ungless states. “There is a focus back to the body and wearability in silhouette, which the designers have utilized advanced tailoring techniques to achieve.”

AAU’s show will be streamed live at Here’s a sneak peek at the looks you can expect to see on models strutting down the catwalk.

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