“I dived head first as my heel caught on the edge of the ramp”
Talking the talk with the inside crowd makes walking the walk easy
"Lucky you didn’t fall all the way down," chuckled Maggie from behind the brim of her grey fedora.
"Yeah, your ass caught my face." We had just gotten back from dinner and were trying to get into the Tiberius runway show at Vienna’s MQ Fashion Week. There had been a few shows earlier in the day, but this was supposed to be the best of the night. The crowd was pawing impatiently at the entrance, but press passes in hand, we bypassed the line. That’s when I nearly fell, squeezing between the door and the velvet rope. Not the suavest way to make an entrance, but we were inside and that’s all that mattered.
The entry lounge was filled, but not packed. Guests who had made it past the bouncers were socialising around the Bosch bar and posing for photos with a pretty blonde by the VIP lounge entrance, in front of a Vöslauer backdrop that created the illusion of a red carpet. The intimate size of the event was evident; there was a nonchalance about the whole thing, as if even those in attendance doubted the legitimacy of Vienna’s young fashion week.
Maggie seemed to know everyone. For a new kid on the block, there was no better position to be in than by the side of a beautiful woman with a lot of friends. As we made our way through the lounge, a blonde woman photographer in flannel struck up a conversation. She carried on about how nice it was when the professional models posed for a photo.
"With those girls, you only need to take one or two photos and you have your shot. These others stand there with silly looks, and the photo doesn’t work," she said with a laugh. "Just look at me like a person!"
As we mingled, the room filled gradually, the crowd’s momentum throbbing toward the VIP entrance in the back corner. We gravitated too. Nearing the second entrance, I could hear the bouncers yelling out: "Black bands only!"
So the people with black Swatch bands were first. Those of us who had managed to maneuver to the front were forced to stand to the side as they rushed past with their wrists in the air proving they were among the chosen. The crowd was getting dense and restless as the tent floor creaked under the weight of the frenzy.
As we passed the second set of bouncers, the tent opened into a long hall with four sections of black risers and a white runway down the middle. For the first time that evening I actually saw someone I knew: the DJ. Dressed all in black with a latex top, baggy gym shorts, a stocking cap, and a spiked choker, Edgar Retro’s sharp features might make him seem unapproachable.
"I’m feeling a bit nervous" said Edgar.
"Don’t be," I smiled. "It’s only Vienna."
Maggie had found us seats in the second row with another of her familiars, a very tall, very thin man in circular sunglasses by the name of Martin. He was a local musician and something of a personality who seemed to have his hand in a bit of everything around town.
"Why is Alfons Haider in the front row?" he said dismissively, in a British-inflected Austrian accent. "He’s an actor. He has nothing to do with fashion!"
As the seats filled, the remaining crowd perched themselves on the risers in the most ideal angles to see and be seen. Some fanned themselves with large purple Vöslauer fans with "HOT!" printed on one side and "NOT!" on the other. Could prove useful.
The lights went low as heavy beats reverberated through the tent. The lights came up and there was a surge of applause for the first outfit, and the next. The crowd seemed to love it all, cheering nearly every outfit as the models paraded leather, latex, and knot-work pieces down the runway. The designer Marcos walked the runway to raucous clapping, and the show was over.
We took our time to get to Le Méridien for the after party, instead staying to critique the show and probe the drinks at the tent until enough time had passed to be fashionably late.
When we finally made it there, most of the crowd had gathered outside to smoke, leaving the bar sparsely populated. The place to be was outside, with patrons feeling out their networks and creating new ones. Though I had never met any of them before, constant introductions made me a fresh player.
A chosen few agreed to move on to another bar, but kept being intercepted. We finally got it together, and then Marcos, the designer, entered the circle. It would be several minutes more.
"This is Peter," someone said as my phone rang. "It’s very nice to meet you" Marcos said somewhat bashfully.
I muted my phone and complimented him on the show and asked him about my favourite pieces. And just as I was beginning to have the first real fashion conversation of my life, the group began to mobilize.
"Here, Facebook me or something," said the designer, handing me his card. I checked my phone busily, feeling almost as important as everyone else was behaving.
"Maybe," I quipped and just – had to go.