So I am wandering about the gi-normous Lexington Armory. Crawling with National Guard, it is also packed to the rafters with munitions. One large central atrium space, which looks like it is big enough to park three 747s, one top of the other, gets rented out for various functions but most notably big fashion shows. Victoria's Secret had its last show here and it seems to be the venue of choice for Marc Jacobs. His main line's show last night was staged here, ditto this afternoon's show for his diffusion line, Marc by Marc Jacobs.
Our bags are checked as we walk through the door. For weapons, presumably. It's not like they need any more - around the walls and corridors all sorts of munitions are displayed behind teak and glass cabinets, including something that looks very much like a shoulder-launched Stinger missile.
With all the money being spent on US military activity in Iraq, I guess a little extra on the side made by renting out some military assets to the fashion crowd must come in handy.
Coincidentally of course, military is apparently never going away as a fashion trend. David Jones I noticed recently has only just started stocking cult UK combat brand Maharishi (better late than never). We saw a bit of it at Luella Bartley two days ago and now again today in Marc by Marc Jacobs, with some cute patchwork khaki shorts, cropped combats and khaki bum bags and satchels.
It seemed entirely appropriate then to approach some of the clearly very fashion-forward, top-to-toe camo-clad National Guard and grill them on matters fashion.
SO THIS IS THE LEXINGTON ARMORY OR THE STATE ARMORY?
First Lieutenant Joseph Minning: It's the Lexington Armory, it's part of our New York State Department of Military and Naval Affairs.
WHY IS MARC JACOBS HAVING HIS SHOW HERE?
I guess they rent out the building. And because of the size of the armory and the flexibility of it, they are able to modify the drill floor into whatever they need to modify it into.
DO YOU THINK CAMOUFLAGE IS A GOOD LOOK FOR THE AVERAGE PERSON IN THE STREET?
Well I have a pair of camouflage shorts.
DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE YOU ARE AT WORK WHEN YOU ARE WEARING THEM?
SEEN ANY ACTIVE DUTY?
Yes. Ten percent of the reserve force is active duty. Just because we're attached to the National Guard, we are still attached to active duty. I've been on active duty since 1997. I've been to Iraq, I've been to just about every state, Kuwait, a lot of different training events and so on.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE FASHION SITUATION IN IRAQ?
The fashion situation in Iraq? [Laughs] They need some help.
I THINK THEY NEED HELP IN QUITE A FEW AREAS.
WHAT ABOUT CURRENT TRENDS IN FASHION? LEGGINGS? PLATFORM SHOES? THE DRESS?
What do I think about the current fashions? I have to be honest with you, you'd be better off asking my girlfriend about that.
BUT DON'T YOU THINK PEOPLE THINK YOU ARE SOMETHING OF AN AUTHORITY JUST BY VIRTUE OF THE FACT THAT YOU WERE IN COMBATS LONG BEFORE BALENCIAGA PUT THEM ON THE RUNWAY?
I don't think I'd be an authority on fashion though. If you want to ask me a bunch of military questions, it might be different.
OH OK THEN. IS FASHION TAKEN VERY SERIOUSLY IN THE MILITARY?
[Laughs] We pretty much have one or two fashions. We have a PT uniform, a duty uniform and a dress uniform. That's our fashion.
AND DO THE TRENDS CHANGE MUCH?
[Serious] Depending on the environment and the situation we're in.
HOW MANY GUARDS ARE HERE?
How many soldiers do we have in our armory on a normal basis? Day to day, probably around 25.
HOW MANY GUNS?
WHAT'S KEPT HERE?
A lot of stuff.
I can't elaborate on all this stuff.
HOW ABOUT WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION?
[Worried] No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
IS THIS FEDERAL OR STATE - DOES IT HAVE MUCH TO DO WITH GEORGE BUSH?
Sure it does.
DOES HE EVER TURN UP?
Has he turned up here? I haven't seen him here.
DO YOU THINK GEORGE BUSH IS FASHIONABLE?
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