Why do stars go? How can I watch? And what IS Fashion Week? We answer here!

By Kate Hogan
September 04, 2012 01:00 PM

Karl Prouse/Catwalking/Getty

It seems like only yesterday we were watching Gisele Bündchen walk the runway for Alexander Wang, previewing Whitney Port‘s debut fashion show and dissecting the meaning behind Emmy Rossum’s backward dress. But here we are again, about to toast the next exciting round of New York Fashion Week.

Before the fashion fun begins on Wednesday, however, we thought we’d give you a little insider info on the big event:

So … what is Fashion Week? Fashion Week is a week (actually about nine days) in which we see what’s hot for the coming season; in this case, spring of 2013. Big and budding designers descend on the Big Apple, showing their latest looks for audiences that include buyers (shopping for their stores), stylists (shopping for clients), journalists (shopping for stories) and some lucky fashion fans.

Many shows are held at the heart of it all — the “tents” (more like a really nice, temporary set of auditoriums) at Lincoln Center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side — but some designers pick alternative venues like lofts, event spaces or unique spots like the New York Public Library.

Though so much planning goes into every show — invites, seating charts, getting celebs settled in the front row, fending off reporters and photographers for said celebs, casting models, hair, makeup and, you know, designing — most shows last for only about 10 minutes. Then it’s lights up, and everyone’s off to the next show or back to work.

Fashions outside the tents counts, too. In recent years, people attending shows — and people who don’t have invites but hang around Fashion Week venues in hope of slipping in to see a show — have been dressing even better (and often crazier) than before. The reason? They want to be noticed for their style.

Street style blogs go nuts during Fashion Week, posting the chicest, and yes, sometimes the craziest, civilian looks of the day. If a fashionista is really lucky, she might end up being snapped by The New York Times‘s beloved photog Bill Cunningham.

Why do celebrities go to shows? It depends. Some go to shop for dresses — the Emmys are just weeks away — some for fun and some as favors to designer friends. Reportedly, there can be perks — a paycheck here, some free clothes there — and some front-row photos and solid interviews can really raise an up-and-coming starlet’s profile. But this season, what’s probably more interesting is how many …

Celebrities will be showing lines at the tents. We’ve already told you about Katie Holmes; along with her stylist, Jeanne Yang, she’ll be presenting her Holmes & Yang collection at Fashion Week for the first time ever. There will be veterans like Victoria Beckham and Rachel Zoe, both showing namesake lines, and Avril Lavigne and Whitney Port, each making second appearances. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen will pull double duty, presenting Elizabeth & James one day and The Row another.

How can I see a show? If you’re not planning to come to New York and bum an unused invite off an editor, you can join in the fun online. We’ll be Tweeting from the tents (check back later this week for a list of all the accounts you should be following once the shows begin), sharing fun photos, surveying the front row and giving commentary on our favorite looks, too.

You can also watch lots of major shows online; YouTube is again presenting its “Live From the Runway” series, offering livestreams from the catwalks of Rebecca Minkoff, Monique Lhuillier, Nicole Miller, Diane von Furstenberg and many, many more. They’re worth checking out, and trust us, you’ll have the best seat in the house! Tell us: Are you excited for New York Fashion Week to begin?

–Kate Hogan