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Taken from the C-List: My Adventures at Fashion Week

THE TREND IS NIGH

It takes a tough and rugged disposition to be a minor celebrity.

Take Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton’s buxom, collagen-enhanced best friend, who briefly dated Nick Lachey and then promptly released a sex tape starring none other than Ray-J, Brandy’s little brother.

Kim Kardashian, I think, has a hard life. Not only must she carry an absolutely shiteous, metallic tote bag to the beach while she and Paris are vacationing in Australia (just so she and Paris can have matching shiteous tote bags in almost neon shades of bronze), she must also content herself with the knowledge that no one really wants to take a picture of her. Paparazzi would rather have a picture of Paris’ pet chihuaha than one of Kim Kardashian topless. It must be upsetting.

At New York’s annual Fashion Week, however, it is time for these minor celebrities—the Kimberly Stewarts, Michelle Trachtenbergs, and Kim Kardashians of the world—to come out of the woodwork and be validated in a way that they, the C-list of the celebrity world, are not usually validated.

WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE

When one goes to the tents at Bryant Park, it is actually quite a mindfuck to realize how large the world of minor celebrity actually is. Vaguely recognizable people from all aspects of entertainment and fashion—winners of reality TV shows, pundits on VH1, and the like—lumber through the tents in matted fur coats and are ushered to the fronts of lines in droves.

The C-list gets priority seating and huge amounts of media attention (I have never seen Kelly Rowland more mobbed for press in my entire life). Really famous people may have attended the shows—according to the paparazzi photos I viewed after the fact, they actually did. But I never saw them. Ever. I did see Laura Bennet from “Project Runway” about 700 times, though.

“Is that Anna Wintour?” I would yell at my friend Felicia while we, the plebeians, waited in line as several famous-looking anorexics glided to the front of the line and straight into the shows. As several goblets of champagne had already been foisted on us, almost without our knowledge (it is apparently required that one be drunk at 10 in the morning while viewing the collections), I shouted this question rather loudly.

“No!” my friend would whisper back to me, slapping me upside the head as I reached down to grab a miniature low-fat cupcake from an outlying table. “You have thought, like, about 15 people were Anna Wintour today, and one of them was a man wearing a leopard trenchcoat! You may never see her! She is like the lost city of Atlantis or the director’s cut of “The Magnificent Ambersons.” She is just not meant for the rabble like us. Get over it.”

As this conversation took place every five minutes, I nodded solemnly, dropped the subject and wept a bit into my horrifically strong cosmo­—pressed into my hand by a withered girl with a pixie cut.

A JOB TO DO

“Oh I don’t know, stop making me sad,” I would say. “Let’s teeter to the concept car!” Fashion week is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, so there were concept cars littered all over the tents. I would always say this as a last resort in my despair—I hate cars and have gotten into six accidents where I confused the gas and the brake, hitting inanimate objects, such as poles.

“No!” Felicia would say, prying the cosmo from my hand. “You didn’t come here to see Anna Wintour, you came here to view a collection. Get to work!”

“You’re right!” I would say, and look inside my press goody-bag to find a yellow umbrella made out of recycled plastic. It made me feel better about myself.

Once inside the shows, surrounded by the horrific trends that will populate 2007, I felt incredible. There is nothing like the true excitement of being at a fashion show. There are three things that make it a particularly incredible experience: (1) You get to see true anorexia on a much larger scale than you have ever seen before. It’s like when Dr. Phil had those anorexic twins on. Fascinating! (2) The clothes really are incredible. Even if they’re neon smock/sack dresses with turtlenecks, they are done in the most beautiful fabric and shown in the most fabulous ways. (3) Sometimes you will think you will see Morrissey wearing Ugg boots and bopping his head to music. It may not be Morrissey (perhaps a mere gay man with rhythm), but you can amuse yourself with this imaginary brush with stardom for hours and hours to come.

THE AMERICAN DREAM

After the show, you get to hear incredible C-list conversations. Examples: “Wow! I fucking loved those sack dresses! Brilliant!” “I’m just so glad to give back to causes such as heart disease!”

You then peer across the room, desperately searching for Britney Spears, who you do not find. This is OK. In many ways, New York Fashion Week, eclipsed by its more famous cousins of Paris and Milan, is the C-list of fashion weeks.

It is appropriate that you can never see the truly famous. They hover like Dr. T.J. Eckleburg at one of Gatsby’s parties—glowing retinas and all. Perhaps it is even emblematic of American meritocracy that myself, Anna Wintour and Kimberly Stewart can all exist in the same tent. It’s sort of like a Horatio Alger story without the newsboy caps.

THREE TIPS FOR ENJOYING FASHION WEEK:

1) Even though people are pressing drinks into your hand like you are Lindsay Lohan during a particularly rough night at Hyde, try not to drink them. They are made for seasoned alcoholics and not for people that throw up after one beer.

2) Don’t let the bouncers deter you. You are a deserving person in your own right, even if you were never on “As the World Turns.”

3) Don’t let people dissuade your judgment. If you think something is ugly, then it probably is. For example, just because there are people wearing garbage bag jumpers doesn’t mean you have to wear them too. Those are not brilliant. They are dumb.

—Staff writer Rebecca M. Harrington can be reached at rharring@fas.harvard.edu.