Fug Girls: A Near-Death Experience at Cynthia Rowley

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Cynthia Rowley's show on Thursday afternoon was a death trap, a fire hazard, and a claustrophobic's worst nightmare. Usually held in a huge, cavernous space, the show was this time held in a small loft that could be reached only by climbing the steepest, scariest, narrowest stairs. Once inside, those of us in the cheap seats discovered that said cheap seats were actually rickety old wooden bleachers, seven rows high and fifteen seats across with no aisle at all. Imagine, if you will, wearing a skirt and four inch stilettos and attempting to climb over several wobbly knee-high benches while holding a ten-pound bag and having nothing to hang on to. Add to that the fact that every row of the bleachers had an approximately one-inch crack down the middle, the better to get your heel stuck in, if its unsteady construction hasn't already pitched you fifteen feet to the concrete floor. Every woman on the bleachers with us said something along the lines of "I seriously don't know how I'm going to do this," "There's literally no way I can get up there," or "I'm scared." One woman had to kind of crawl to her seat. Most people required a helping hand from nearby strangers (offered with sympathetic "we're all in this together" camaraderie). It was miraculous that no one fell, and broken bones were averted only because practically everyone who was assigned seats at the very top of the bleachers decided not to risk it. And if that weren't bad enough, the show opened with oversize, blinding lights, as if we had all been tricked into coming to a group interrogation session. The crowd actually cried out in pain when the light hit them.

Of course, the celebrities in attendance didn't have to deal with the majority of this. Sans the threat of imminent death, they seemed to be having a grand old time. Rowley's shows always seem to attract people who know each other, and who spend much of the preshow time catching up, and this was no exception. We spotted Jill Hennessey — all legs in a short, flattering dress — as well as Julia Stiles, who seemed somehow shorter today than when we saw her at Matthew Williamson. Also spied: Tatum O'Neal, who posed for pictures first with a gloomy, bored expression, then with a series of goofy smiles. Maybe she's just trying to keep things interesting for the photographers. Later, we saw Candace Bushnell, who never seems to age, and Alan Cumming, wearing a cozy little hat. Getting the most attention, though, was Olympic swimmer–Playboy model Amanda Beard, who was super friendly to reporters and who looks too thin in person to be able to swim so fast.

The show closed as oddly as it opened: The last model walked off, there was another blinding flash of lights (perhaps to simulate lightning?) and the attendant cries of pain, and then, nothing. No final parade of looks, no bow from Rowley. Everyone just sat there, looked at each other, and then got up and tried to gracefully crawl out of their seats.

View backstage and front row photos
from the Cynthia Rowley show.
View a slideshow of the Cynthia Rowley collection.
Cynthia Rowley's Swag for the Skinny-Assed [NYM]