Sunday, September 10, 2006

Baryshnikov, seat Nazis and Sabyasachi performs a miracle with the handicapped

So I am standing in a light-drenched space with bare concrete walls and floor-to-ceiling windows at the top of a midtown building near the Hudson River, waiting for the Naum show to start. And what a ceiling - seemingly all 40 foot of it.

So far it's just me and a dozen people standing around the edges of the space, behind two rows of grey plastic chairs that have been arranged against the four walls, around a central, square "runway" space.

There are also about eight photographers huddled in one corner, trialling camera angles as the models do a walk-through. They have their hair and makeup done, but are wearing their own clothes - a mix of floor-length, tiered boho skirts, skinny jeans and singlets. One model is wearing a black singlet with the following words printed down the centre:


I am leaning in fact against two wooden bars which run right around two of the walls.

The opposite wall is covered with a mirror. Yes, it's a dancer's studio - the Baryshnikov Arts Center in fact. I feel like I am in the middle of an audition for A Chorus Line and as such am tempted to take the barre and perform a plie. Had my ankle-length, A-line, Funkis shift dress been fashioned from anything a little more accommodating than Florence Broadhurst upholstery fabric, I might have carried it out. In the current textile context however, I fear a plie may be a little too ambitious.

The room suddenly fills. The show starts. The same model who had been wearing the "money crime drugs vice sex" singlet is now dressed like an altar girl. She glides past in a pristine white cotton shirt with buttoned collar and extended cuffs over a voluminous, white A-line skirt that is partially covered by a mushroom-coloured organza apron. It's a very pretty, minimalist collection.

A plane flies past in the distance across the Manhattan skyline and I shudder. Choosing to follow a horde of people down six flights of fire stairs instead of taking the lift afterwards, only exacerbates the uncomfortable feeling. I can't get into the daylight quickly enough.

Into a cab and back to Bryant Park. The farcical fash pack is out in force and any notions of terrorist forboding swiftly dissipate.

A seat nazi on the front desk of newish designer Sabyasachi tells me that she cannot possibly accommodate me because I don't have a ticket. I tell her that I believe I may have RSVP'd to the relevant PR agency but that the ticket did not arrive at the hotel and in any event I am more than happy to stand at the show of a designer I don't know from a bar of soap because I am very keen to see what he is doing.

She grudgingly gives me a "ST" (standing) ticket.

In a moment of absurdity, I watch as a man wheels an elderly woman in a wheelchair over to the same flack. She gives them some attitude and then proceeds to hand both of them "standing" tickets.

"Gee, that's going to be an interesting one to watch" I think to myself.

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