New York Men’s Fashion Week is always a busy week with multiple events to attend. You combine that with balmy July temperatures and a shitty MTA system, and it can go from fun and exciting to sweaty and overwhelming very quickly. In fact, that’s what happened to me on Wednesday. I was running late again. At 1:15 p.m., the goal arrival time, I was still on the subway platform in Williamsburg. I was running up to the Skylight, where the Parke & Ronen show was taking place, just as the clock was hitting 1:40 p.m. I was sweaty, out of breath, and yearning to enjoy the satisfaction I get in the fall while wearing a leather jacket. Then I spot a glimmer of hope on the corner. I see Tommy Dorfman, star of 13 Reason’s Why, who I actually met on another corner in Soho the night before. Dorfman is the exact opposite of his character on the Netflix show. He’s down to Earth, charming, and engaging.
After walking completely around the building and finding ourselves on the Westside Highway (I’ve always hated this venue), we’ve made it. Dorfman goes first: “Hi, Tommy Dorfman.” “Yes, of course,” the pretty blonde responds with a smile and an assistant comes and takes him away. “And you?” she says to me. “Hi! Drew Jessup!” “Hmm how do you spell that?” I guess it pays to have been a part of a popular Netflix series. She finds my name and I walk assistant-less backstage, where it’s a sea of diversified six packs coming off stage from walk-throughs. I’m already planning my next trip to the gym.
I was seeking succor when BSG editor Tony Marion finds me and we head back to the VIP section. There’s Dorfman, Andrew Rannells, and Matthew Risch telling stories that consistently end with laughter. Kyle Dean Massey and husband Taylor Frey are being interviewed by NY1’s Frank DiLella nearby. I must feel like how Taylor Swift’s photographer feels when they’re hired to shoot Taylor and her power friend groups emerging from empty beaches, I’m here for one reason. I start snapping away while there’s yelling in the background that it’s almost showtime.
All the VIPs and I head to the runway where it’s social hour before the lights dim and the music comes on. The who’s who’s of New York Men’s Fashion Week, usually dressed in the designers clothes for the show, is talking while a cloud of photographers stand on the runway yelling, “Tommy, look here!” “One more for me, Andrew!” Fashion weeks are funny, especially at the more well-known shows, and it’s a very consistent type of crowd that’s deemed relevant enough to attend. Sometimes it’s athletes. Sometimes it’s models. For Parke & Ronen it’s actors. There are the six mentioned above and then Broadway star Billy Porter with husband, Adam Smith, Hugh Sheridan from The Divorce, Elijah Boothe from Blue Bloods, and Keith Powers from Famous in Love and Straight Outta Compton.
Suddenly people dressed in black and wearing headsets and hugging their clipboards appear. If you’ve ever been to a fashion show, this means get to your damn seats. Parke & Ronen Spring/Summer 2018 is filled with short, tight tastefully printed bathing suits and looser-fitting button downs and sweaters. The collection also incorporates some of their best pieces from past years in celebration of the 20th anniversary. The show concludes with designers Parke Lutter and Ronen Jehezkel coming onto the runway for a short walk, which ends in waves and a kiss before they go backstage. And just like that, the hype is over, the show is done, and the palpable anticipation once felt a mere five minutes ago evaporates. The room scatters and everyone is off to once again battle the unbearable heat of summer. Good thing Parke & Ronen have a few extra bathing suits and tanks laying backstage. It may be the only way I’ll survive my journey back to Brooklyn.