Bryant Park is a 9.603 acre (39,000 m²) privately-managed public park located in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is bounded by Fifth Avenue, Sixth Avenue, 40th Street and 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan. Twice a year Bryant Park is magically transformed into “The Tents” where the NY Fashion Week is held. This week I will be photographing celebrities that attend the Spring 2009 shows. For the next few days Philly Chit Chat will give you a glimpse of what goes on at NY Fashion Week Fall 2009 and what I can expect to encounter this season again. Arguably the city’s most glamorous event, is Fashion Week which involves 80 designer runway shows held in the 65,000-square-foot white tents in Bryant Park; other daily shows take place in venues throughout the city. The event is expected to attract over 100,000 people and generate around $235 million for the city. I think the one question people ask me the most, how can I get in to see a show?

Many events will be by invitation only. No invitation, no access. If you are a legitimate member of the press you can request coverage of the event but this may also be limited to amount of press and to where you can go. Legitimate means your work, writings, photos, video footage, appear regularly in a venue or several venues. It could be your own venue. If you are an employee of standing either in the retail, magazine, internet, or television worlds, you may get an invitation but even this is no guarantee depending on space. If you are not “important” enough to be invited check with your fellow workers, your boss or your network of connections for an extra invitation. In the past few seasons other opportunities for obtaining tickets have become available; before I became a legitamate member of the press, I traded in AMEX points (60,000 points) to see the DVF 2006 show with my friend Katie. For each show the fashion tent is completely transformed. Usually the seats behind us are white, but here they have been covered in brown hotel packages W Hotel’s Fashion Week packages or you could bid on a charity auctions that might pop up on Ebay. Another way to get into these tents is to get a job or volunteer. Many listings for various intern positions are listed in Craigslist 2 or 3 months prior to the shows. It’s in this are that I am allowed to photograph celebrites that come to the shows.
This is the grand entrance to “The Tents”; there are three tents underneath this big top; The Salon, where smaller, newer designer show, The Promenade, a medium size space and then the grand “The Tent” where bigger names hold their events, Heatherette, Donna Karan or Diane Von Furstenburg. New York primarily showcases American or New York-based designers, with a sprinkling of designers from Australia, England, Spain and Russia joining them. “If you want to do business in New York,” says Fern Mallis, senior VP of IMG, the firm that produces fashion week, “you show in New York.”
The photographers wait in this pen to be allowed into one of four rooms which hold the fashion shows. The wait time is time consuming at no less than 30 minutes. It’s a pain. This is also an area where I would wait so I can shoot the “Front Row” celebrities. Front Row is usually reserved for A Listers, editors, close friends and relatives of the designer. On the first day of the fashion shows, these same photographers have marked off the spot where they are going to shoot, and a freelancer like me would never dare invade their territory, it’s a cut throat business and I have seen many a fight over an inch.

The models dressing room

In between shows the runway is recovered in a white plastic so it looks brand spanking new. This is the smallest room, The Salon. At the end of this hallway is the stage door (which I will write about tomorrow). There is also a group of photographers lying in wait for any celebrity that may come there way, and

after the show they are allowed to go into the “W Hotel” VIP Room where celebrities and designers go to relax after the show. For the little folk (hotel package or trading in points) our VIP lounge is just as impressive, but no celebrities. Although Fern Mallis did sit next to me on the couch.
Damien from MTV’s TRL

As I mentioned before my primary job is to photograph the celebrities. In this shot I didn’t recognize Bob Colacello friend of Andy Warhol, editor of Interview Magazine (Which by the way I will be going to the Interview Party during fashion week where they will introduce their newly revamped magazine and cover girl – Kate Moss)
Welcome to my world. To shoot the runway at fashion week, I stand on a ladder praying to God that HughE doesn’t topple over and cause a domino effect to the photographers I just made friends with as I stood in place for 45 minutes before the show starts. But it’s fashion week and I love it!!

These are a few photos I took of the Red Dress Fashion show from the position I was in the above photo, standing on someone’s camera suitcase because I was in the last row and their was only about 2 feet of surface and had I put my ladder down I could have easily been knocked off and into the tent and then on the ground. Below is Ana Ortiz, this photo appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, as Ana, who is on Ugly Betty, grew up in Philadelphia.Jenna Fischer from the Office. The Red Dress event is held annually and kicks off Fashion Week and Women and Heart Disease Month.

Liza Minelli being greeted by Heidi Klum with Camryn Manhein in the foreground.Here’s a few shots that I took at the Diane Von Furstenburg show last year. I was bad and used a flash for this one as I wanted to capture all the rows. Now these folks were a good 100 feet away from me. Front row – Barry Diller, Ellen Barkin and writer Fran Lebowitz (who never wears anything but her trademark black sports coat, black pants and white shirt) Top celebrity front row sitters who are in demand: Katie Holmes and BFF Posh Spice herself, Victoria Beckham. Since marrying Tom Cruise, Katie’s stock has gone way up, and she can ask for $50,000 to sit in the front row, before the marriage Katie barely got photographed. I doubt Ellen Barkin charged her best friend DVF anything.
The Devil Wear’s Prada herself – Anna Wintour editor of Vogue. Many designers dole out as much as $500,000 and take six months to plan and prepare for their 10-minute presentations.
The fashion shows replace the park’s lawn twice a year, following the shows, which is what gives Bryant Park one of the world’s best lawns. Here’s Cherry Hill’s Ali Larter leaving the Calvin Klein show.