New York Fashion Week is over. Finally.
Although, to be honest, you probably don't care unless you're Anna Wintour or living on a six-figure salary. Few Millennials can afford the elaborate styles on the runway, but one show I saw really resonated with me for its non-sartorial focus.
Out of all the glamorous parties and stages I saw last week, there's only one really sticking in my brain. Like a piece of tape I didn't know was on the bottom of my shoe, I keep getting mentally stuck on a fashion show of sorts hosted by Thinx, a company that famously sells period panties.
Instead of being about style, it was about representation. Thinx asked its audience just to shut up for awhile and listen to somebody else instead of Instagramming or snapping,
And I was OK with that, increasingly so as the night wore on. Don't worry, I'll get to the bizarre lab coat situation in a few.
I'm already a fan of the brand's silky black menstrual panties (seriously, they're a life upgrade), but was a little taken aback when I received a secretive email invitation to the company's fashion week event.
The details were few: Arrive at a certain west-side address before 7 pm, wear white. Wear white! The invite repeated it a few times, as if desperately afraid no one would follow orders.
On the day of the event, I arrived at the location harried and sweaty (summer briefly came back to New York and melted me immediately). I was greeted by a line of women and men wearing white, like some kind of bizarre cult had decided to welcome the end of the world in midtown.
Once inside the 12,000 square foot warehouse space, press were sent up to a balcony while attendees (it was free to wait in line for a spot) took their seats on a grid of plush boxes.
And then the lights went out. One after another, women in all-white designs (strategically cut out to show off their Thinx panties, of course) stood on their boxes to read or sing original pieces.
One participant, Ashlee Haze, told us about the way Missy Elliot taught her to accept her body, while another, Niki Morrissette, belted a song about banishing negative people from our lives.
Two women were minority models, not tall or thin enough for the Fashion Week runway. One was Sawyer DeVuyst, a transgender man who just wanted to be seen as equal.
The night was about representation, listening to somebody's else's voice while acknowledging their body. For two hours, we sat in silence and just paid attention.
Finally, Thinx founder Miki Agrawal spoke about her own experience building a woman-positive (and body-positive) company. And at the end, we closed with a pledge that (to my Catholic-raised ears) sounded an awful like a prayer.
In unison, we read,
I want to make a difference in this world. Therefore: I must fight all forms of oppression as the oppression of one is the oppression of all. I recognize that oppression thrives on fear and ignorance; I seek to recognize my prejudices and change them; I know that it is neither helpful nor productive to argue over who is more oppressed; I recognize that my life interconnects with all other lives. I will make a difference.
Does that mean there weren't moments when my stomach growled? Times when the speeches seemed a little too earnest to be real? Absolutely not. I had an eye-roll here and there.
But then I revisited it, with every show I took part in. And isn't that the most powerful thing: a fashion show that actually sticks with you?