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The Help Desk

NYFW Etiquette

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Step aside, Emily Post. See ya later, Dear Abby. The VB Edit Help Desk is open—just in time for New York Fashion Week. Keep reading for our tips to navigate the shows—and the front row—like a true insider. (The illustrations, by the way, are by Julie Houts. We ♡ her work! Check it out here.)

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Air-kissing—appropriate or not? One cheek or two? Help! — Handshake Helen
There are all sorts of rules when it comes to air-kissing in a business setting—forget them. During fashion week, it is always appropriate. Just lean in to the left, so both your right cheeks come in close contact. That’s it! One cheek is fine in New York (unless your fellow greeter is European, then go for two); during the Milan and Paris show circuits, double air-kisses abound (lean left, then right).

Arghhh! I can't find my seat! — Anon VIP
Relax. Keep your cool. Find the nearest PR person to help—and be nice. Throw a tantrum today and you'll be the talk of social media tomorrow.

Why am I being asked to uncross my legs? — Chris Kelly-Smith
It happens like clockwork. Just before the show starts, after the runway is cleared, the photographers yell out to the crowd, "Uncross your legs!" They're talking to the front row. Because those crossed legs stick out and obstruct the view of the runway. Pull a Princess Diana and keep your legs parallel while slanting them to one side—or, if you must, cross your legs at the ankles.

I spy an empty seat and the show’s about to begin. Can I take it? — Third-Row Tabitha
No! You don’t want to get booted by a late-arriving guest or mess up the meticulously planned seating chart. Plus, sometimes PR will actually ask guests to fill in empty seats. Wait till you’ve gotten the official OK.


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Should I arrive on time or fashionably late? — Marcela J.
Fashion shows are notorious for starting late—typically anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour, sometimes even more. While arriving early won’t exactly get you in—the doors may not be open—we don’t advise aiming to be “fashionably late.” Don’t forget that hundreds of people will be headed in the same direction as you, at the same time, so traffic will be abominable. You don’t want to risk your “fashionably late” turning into “so-late-you-missed-the-show.” Plus, getting there on time guarantees fun people-watching while you’re waiting for the show to start.

OMG, I’m sitting next to my favorite [celebrity/influencer/editor]!!! What’s the conversation protocol? — Chatty Cathy
I don’t want to burst your bubble, but the chances you’ll be walking out as BFFs is highly unlikely. Smile, say hello, mention you love his or her work… but don’t hit the person up with a barrage of questions. Just because you’re sitting elbow-to-elbow is not an invitation to invade someone's privacy or personal space. Pretend you’re on a plane—don’t assume your seatmate wants to talk. It is entirely normal not to share a single word with the individual sitting next to you at a fashion show.

Can I bring snacks? — Forever Hungry
You're not at the movies, dear. A runway show typically tops out at seven to 15 minutes, max. That said, people do carry small snacks—nuts, sweets—in their bag as they're hopping from show to show (often without a break for lunch). Just be mindful of the wrapping. You don't want to be that person loudly popping a bag of chips just as the lights go down.


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