A Straight Male Outsider Takes On New York Fashion Week

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Time magazine sent Joel Stein to New York Fashion Week. Stein doesn't cover fashion, and might not have ever covered fashion, but his fresh take on the whole spectacle is remarkably spot-on:

[F]ashion shows are the most serious events in the entire world. Nobody in the audience smiles or talks; the models look like they're on the Bataan death march; and people slowly, lifelessly clap at the end. I've been to political panels, criminal trials, locker rooms of playoff losers, graduate English classes and the Ron Paul convention, and I've never seen people take themselves quite this seriously.




Vogue editor Anna Wintour, whom I vaguely knew as the lady who wears Prada and is remarkably similar to the Devil, has two bodyguards — that's how serious fashion is.


Our heads are so buried in the fashion sand pit we never even questioned La Wintour's bodyguards. But Stein raises a good point — why does she have them? Most reporters working the front row are too scared to talk to her; photographers likewise approach cautiously.

We might fear Wintour, but Stein didn't fear rubbing elbows with models. He found it confusing that the models don't turn him on and he didn't find them hot. We thought that was just something guys said to make non-models like them, but Stein is rather convincing. To explore his confusing turned-off feelings, Stein ventures backstage at the Donna Karan show to get an "up-close look" at model Arlenis Sosa. (We know — it sounds kind of creepy.)

Sosa, 19, was pretty and awfully nice but mostly just really tall and outrageously skinny. Though she bragged to me about having just finished a salad and a kiwi, she paused when I asked her if that salad had dressing. "I don't like dressing," she said. I gave her a look. "Because I can't be fat," she continued. "I do like it. But I don't want any."



Moving on! Stein asks another question we can't believe we never asked ourselves: Why does Harvey Weinstein own Halston?

When I asked him why he bought it, Weinstein said, "I'm a red-blooded American male. I get to hang out with models." We both laughed a particularly creepy kind of laugh, and then he said, "You and I know the least about fashion in this room. But I bet you can tell me Ty Cobb's batting average."



On second thought, maybe we didn't want to know the answer to that question. Charmers, these two are.

Fashion Frills [Time]