We spent some of Tuesday and the first half of Wednesday questioning — maybe a little crankily — why Vanessa Hudgens would attend several fashion shows, yet avoid giving any front-row interviews. So, of course, we walked into the Marchesa presentation Wednesday afternoon, picked up some champagne, and found ourselves chatting up Vanessa Hudgens.
Vanessa copped to being a little starstruck at her first fashion week. "I sat next to Kanye West at [Jeremy Scott's show]," she said. "It was awesome. We totally talked for a minute, he was so nice. He was Kanye. I felt like a baller." She did not say whether their conversation included any information about his interior-decorating problems — so often enumerated on Twitter — but maybe that's small talk for another occasion. Hudgens seemed calm despite her brush with Kanyeness, gleefully stroking the sides of her snug, red, ruffled Marchesa. "I'm totally standing here, like, petting myself," she said, with a laugh. "But it's so soft. I can't help it." We would've done the same in her shoes, which, incidentally, were brown YSL sandals — she said she wasn't totally sure they matched, but they were her best improvisation because of "a horrible packing job" after a month-long movie shoot in North Carolina and then a trip to Disney World. This is why knowing a bunch of clothing designers comes in handy. "I showed up to my hotel room and there were seven different garment bags all sitting on my bed," she said. "I got to shuffle through all of them, poured myself a glass of wine, and tried on these amazing clothes and had a great time."
Not everyone inside was having as much of a blast: Rapper Eve and Michelle Trachtenberg were all smiles, pointing excitedly at almost every single gown, but the girls actually modeling them were starting to struggle. They were positioned on pedestals under hot lights, wearing incredibly dramatic Louboutins with what looked to be six-inch heels that were as skinny as pencils (and no platform to mitigate the foot strain). As we rounded a corner, a wilting model started to wobble on her feet as a PR girl sped over to help her sit down, because the poor model looked like she wanted to vomit or pass out — or vomit and then pass out. Two pedestals down, another model had already been moved into a sitting position: She was staring at the ground as if trying to maintain her composure while another PR girl unhooked the tall lace collar of her (stunning) dress, and gave her water and peanut-filled M&M's.
We were trapped in the scrum between the two models — both of whom were the object of much sympathetic rubber-necking from the guests; they must have felt like exotic animals at the world's chic-est zoo — when we noticed standing behind us model Irina Lazareanu, wearing a white, feather-trimmed Marchesa with bowling shoes. Irina looked quite concerned about the first model, and although she exchanged worried glances with us, we never could have predicted what happened next: Irina turned tail in the crowd and fought her way back to the girl's side, where she appeared to give her a few sympathetic and concerned words of wisdom, or a pep talk of some sort. Irina then made her way back over to where we were standing. "It's so scary, this is so hard. I've been there. They're just babies. It's crazy," she said, totally unprompted. "They're just 16-year-olds. They've been here over an hour already. It's heartbreaking." We have to admit that we never thought much about Irina one way or the other, beyond wondering how we felt about her bangs on occasion, but she certainly seems awfully kind.
Irina then wandered off to continue her Model Humanitarian Efforts throughout the rest of the venue — where her ministrations were still needed, because a mere few pedestals down the row from the first two girls, yet another model had to be helped to the ground, and a fourth was only upright because someone was holding her hands while she gave her feet a break, one at a time. Amazingly, almost all the seated girls got back up and gutted it out, because they are pros. But between girls falling on the runway and swooning at presentations — or, in the case of the Chris Benz show on Monday, full-on fainting — we have learned two things for sure: We will never doubt another Top Model contestant who looks dolefully into the camera while dressed as a Zodiac sign and tells us modeling is hard work ; and we will never let anyone tell us Irina Lazareanu isn't awesome.