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New York Fashion Week after dark: The shows, the parties and the people

Much like its hosting city, New York Fashion Week is style event that never sleeps.

With shows and presentations running back-to-back from 9am till 10pm for eight days and parties stretching into the wee hours, there’s barely enough time to catch your breath let alone any precious moments of shut-eye.

Fuelled by adrenaline and an endless stream of complimentary coffees, the days can feel unrelenting, but it’s worth saving some energy (and a few espressos) for the evening.

When the puffa jackets come off and the sunglasses stay on, the streets become amass with show ponies in sequins and glamazons in glitter, all worthy of David Attenborough narration.

The prime reason for this is that all of the main, or ‘major’ as per the fashion lexicon, shows take place during the evening e.g. Tom Ford, Alexander Wang, Calvin Klein, drumming up an instantly elevated sense of occasion when the clock strikes 8pm.

Palatial locations such as the American Stock Exchange and the Park Avenue Armory make for quite the spectacular setting, not to mention the cacophony of celebrities (and people who look like celebrities) gliding in like swans.

In terms of refreshments, there is rarely food, but there is almost always alcohol.

At Raf Simons, which took place at the prime time of 8.30pm, there were individually poured crystal glasses of red wine scattering the runway.

After much deliberation (“no, you take one, go on, oh alright”), guests eventually began to help themselves.

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Cameron Dallas, Richie Akiva and Alanna Arrington at the amfAR Gala after party, New York (Rex Features)

Less taken advantage of were the bountiful bowls of blueberries, waffles and brie which, paired with the wine, paid homage to a Flemish still life tableaux.

At Tom Ford, handsome male models handed out champagne flutes and gin cocktails on arrival, which left guests ravenously chomping down roasted cashews and Goldfish crackers afterwards, as most made the commute downtown for Jeremy Scott, which was due to take place just half an hour later.

Given that these shows are at the end of the day’s schedule, they tend to run late.

Plus, most designers will hold them for longer to allow time for key guests and editors to arrive.

In other words, you’re unlikely to see Anna Wintour brushing sweat off her forehead because she’s worried she won’t make it in time for Carolina Herrera.

She will always make it in time for Carolina Herrera because Carolina Herrera waits for her, not the other way around.

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Sita Abellan at the Jeremy Scott x MAC Party, New York (Rex Features)

Unsurprisingly, Ms Wintour and celebrity attendees seldom arrive first (perhaps they aren’t the most reliable timekeepers), meaning there’s usually a lot of waiting around for guests who arrive on time to watch the chaos unfold.

Celebrities who do manage to make it in good time typically gather on one side of the runway to pose for pictures while editors stand opposite, playing nice while quietly competing over who has backstage access and interview time.

Then you have the stragglers, the ones who have clearly gotten a little over-excited and have combined a myriad of trends in a single outfit in the hope they will become the next street style star.

They will linger on the runway up until the very last minute to increase their chances of being ‘spotted’ by someone with a camera.

Then of course, you have the show itself, which never lasts more than 10 minutes.

Once the lights come up and the final model has made her turn backstage, it’s go time.

People leap out of their seats faster than you can say ‘stiletto’, because at fashion week, everyone who’s anyone is in a hurry, even if they have nowhere to go.

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Bella Hadid heading out to paint the town red, New York (Rex Features)

Now comes the tricky part.

If you thought getting into the shows was tough (and it is, believe me), the parties are like US immigration, except with glitter.

Once you’ve made it past the queue, usually lasting 30 minutes or longer, it’s time to find your name on ‘the list’ and that is no mean feat.

Funnily enough, the concept of ‘fashionably late’ doesn’t really apply to fashion parties.

If you arrive more than 20 minutes late, the party will probably be at capacity, meaning it doesn’t matter what ‘list’ you’re on, no level of fabulosity or superiority can get you in.

To the delight of innocent passers-by, these unprecedented rejections typically result in reality show-worthy tantrums which, were they to be digitised into GIFs, would undoubtedly go viral.

They’ll huff and puff for a while before ultimately sharply storming off and shouting as they descend into the dark New York night in search of the next party.

Because that’s the thing about New York Fashion Week, there’s always another party and another socio-political power play just a hop, skip and an overpriced cab ride away.

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