SEPTEMBER IS GLORIOUS IN MANHATTAN, AND THIS year was no exception. The temperature was a perfect seventy-ﬁve degrees, the humidity low, and the sky a cloudless blue. Coming back to the city from a restless summer, the weather is always a reminder that spectacular things can happen and that greatness is just around the corner. The air buzzes with excitement, and in one day, the city goes from sleepy to frenzied. There’s the familiar crawl of trafﬁc on Sixth and Park Avenues, the air hums with cell phone conversations, and the restaurants are full. For the rest of the country, Labor Day marks the end of the summer and the beginning of the school year. But in New York, the real year begins a few days later, with that venerable tradition known as Fashion Week. On Sixth Avenue behind the Public Library, Bryant Park was transformed into a wonderland of white tents where dozens of fashion shows would take place. Black carpeted steps led up to French doors, and all week, these steps were lined with students and fans hoping to get a glimpse of their favorite designers or stars, with Japanese photographers (whom everyone agreed were more polite), with paparazzi, with security men with headsets and walkietalkies, with the young P.R. girls (always in black, sporting concerned expressions), and with all manner of well-heeled attendees shouting into cell phones for their cars. The curb was lined with black town cars three vehicles deep, as if some terribly important state funeral were about to take place. But inside the tents, life was at its most glamorous and exciting. There were always ﬁve or six big shows at which attendance was required to secure one’s place in the social pecking order (or to simply remind everyone that you still exist), and the very ﬁrst of these events was the Victory Ford
show, held at seven p.m. on the ﬁrst Thursday evening of Fashion Week. By six forty-ﬁve, the scene inside the tents was one of controlled...