In our documentary age—of memoirs, magalogs, paparazzi, and reality TV—where does that leave the fantasy of who we wish we were? This issue answers that question by showing how actual New Yorkers are transformed by dressing up in this season’s resplendent fashion. From the commercial real-estate agent on our cover to each of the faces inside, we’re making a case that models aren’t the only beautiful people in New York, and far from the only stylish ones. Instead of approaching this from the no-context style Biosphere, we studied people in their habitats, from Nan Kempner’s drawing room to the rutted road behind artist Vanessa Beecroft’s country house. We crept around the hallways of a Web editor’s Chinatown world and made it up to lunch at The Four Seasons with Brooke Shields—who allowed us to tail her for four days last month, not in some haute couture fantasy, but riding the subway, having her hair highlighted, and shivering when she was caught in a rainstorm. Donna Karan, a pioneer in the creation of modern New York style, invited us along on her journey to define her new life, and generously gave herself over to artist Chuck Close’s vision—a collaboration that produced a searingly intimate portrait. This season is a return to a sort of streamlined elegance, a more formal, alert, and less louche style. Looking good in New York is necessary because we always have to see each other on the street. As one of our amateur models, a 23-year-old account executive, said, “I had no style before I moved here. I’m basically just copying anybody who looks good in the city.” Which is how most of us get our ideas. It’s a process of continuous suggestion, seeing what works on the people we pass on the sidewalk—a cool Helmut Lang dress, a chic Ralph Lauren suit, a ripped vintage T-shirt—or across the room at a party, or in the office, or even on the pages of a magazine. New York is the ideal fashion city, where every street is a runway and every person a kind of model, showing infinite variations of individual style.
Instant Cover Girl
No actual models were used to make this fashion issue.
Donna Karan’s Vision Quest
Donna Karan sold her design company and lost her husband in the same year. Now there’s a new Donna (with a thirtysomething boyfriend) being born. Portrait of a seeker in mid-voyage.
How to Be a Park Avenue Princess
Nan Kempner offers up her apartment, and her advice, to three bright young things.
Almost 25 years after she appeared as an impossibly slender, untouchable Calvin Klein model, Brooke Shields is a New York mom just as vulnerable as her fellow passengers on the local train.
How four Parsons class of 2004 designers spend one ambitious summer.
Extreme Brand Loyalty
Meet three fashion obsessives, including one with 85 Chanel suits.
Dov Charney, American Apparel’s unusual CEO, stretches his knit empire.
Playing detective in a search for fashion’s next trend.
Men on the Street
Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, the duo behind the women’s line Proenza Schouler, dress six regular guys in variations on American classics
Across a Crowded Room
A trip into the lives of four fabulous New Yorkers we spotted at a party, minus that awkward morning after.
A visit to the country with fashion-forward creations—and the art students who might actually wear them.