Fashion Week may be a national obsession, but only a handful of VIPs – editors, buyers, stylists, celebrities – seem to receive the coveted tickets to Lincoln Center's chic bleachers to watch designers unveil their latest collections. How does a passionate fashionista without connections or credentials end up front row-hogging with Anna Wintour, Rachel Zoe and company? With the help of uber-stylist Robert Verdi and PR maven/TV eccentric Kelly Cutrone, we are revealing ten smart strategies to snag fashion week tickets.
1. Dress for success.
- "Walk with great authority and self importance, and chances are you're going to get in," says celebrity stylist Robert Verdi – who's launching his own streaming coverage of the tents at www.firstcomesfashion.com. The problem, of course, is what to wear, since that Wintour wig and H&M shades aren't likely to fool many.
- Don't overdress (Gaga will make the check-in girls gag) but don't think you can rock that rip-off either. "In this crowd, it's hard to make simulated, Canal Street fashion work, so save your money, skip paying your rent and go to Bergdorf Goodman."
2. Be a good customer.
- Big brands like Ralph Lauren or Michael Kors will often invite their staunchest supporters to attend shows as a sales tool-cum-thank you. If you can't shell out big bucks to buy weekly at your favorite designer's store, buddy up with a sales assistant and so they can recommend you to be added to the invitation list for fashion show tickets.
3. Blag in by blogging.
- IMG, the conglomerate that runs Fashion Week, keeps a rolling database of journalists – a list that some organizers rely on heavily. Kelly Cutrone – who's been coordinating shows for years before her gig on "The City" – has seen scramblers work all the angles. She suggests that overzealous types set up a fashion blog with a few posts and register it here. "There are some PR companies that just print that list and invite everyone on it – not my agency," she laughs. "But maybe there will be some interns who don't follow directions and you'll be one of the lucky people who gets a label."
4. Make it a photo finish.
- Verdi used a similarly deft but different trick when he was first starting out. He'd apply not only as a stylist, but also as a photographer. The pool of shutterbugs at the runway's end is more fluid and less full of recognizable names. Robert used a riff on his real name, Bobby Green, as his nom de camera. "If I wasn't invited to the show as a guest, I could get in with a camera credential. And it worked."
5. Let down their guards.
- "Buddy up with the security people keeping vigilant watch at the door," Verdi suggests. The control all access and might take pity on a sweet-mannered would-be gatecrasher.
6. Patience is a virtue.
- Just like at a concert, there might be spare fashion show tickets floating around. Hanging around outside Lincoln Center and chatting to attendees could yield results. Sometimes, when show attendance is low – due to the weather or a scheduling clash – last minute seat-fillers are needed. Cutrone always pulls them from the crowds of fashion obsessives outside. "I look at the fashion kids out front, and go out and give them some tickets – they give good energy."
7. Air-kiss to access.
- The riskiest strategy also has the highest reward. Buff up on some big names, like Joe Zee or Linda Wells, and memorize what they look like. Linger on your cellphone around the entrance to your favorite designer's show, and wait until one of your targets appears. "Say hello to them in some sort of disdainful way, and walk in tailing them as if you're part of their entourage," Verdi says, "And once you get past the first set of doors, that's where freedom is found."
8. Buy tickets.
- Cutrone champions this and has sold off tickets to certain fashion shows she's organized in the past to raise money for charity. "If you think there are 600 press people who need to be at any fashion show, you're wrong," she says. Fashion's Night Out, the extravaganza swelling in size faster than Kanye West's ego, is staging a 200-model strong "spring preview" at Lincoln Center on September 7 for an audience of 1,500 real people. American Express has a similar set up for its Platinum and Centurion (or Black) card members; if you have either, call the number on the back of the card and ask about the special, "By Invitation Only" events.
9. Try a travel agent.
- Look for one with the Virtuoso stamp – the travel world's answer to an all-access VIP pass. "Our agents have the connections and personal relationships to make the impossible possible," explains Virtuoso's Misty Ewing. "Sophisticated shoppers are also sophisticated travelers, and all you need is a good agent to make it happen." She won't divulge how they do it, of course, but hardcore fashionistas can pay the right agent to conjure couture access – specialists include In The Know Experiences.
10. Watch online at StyleList!
- After all, it's more comfortable, relaxing and the sight lines are better. "In truth, it's just a trade show – yes a very glamorous trade show speckled with celebrities and beautiful young girls - but in reality people are there to do work," says Verdi.