Written by Alexandra Pullen
September 7th, 2013
The Doppelgangers Take NYFW
New York Fashion Week Spring 2014 overlapped with my first week as an ABT Apprentice as well as my first time moving into my very own New York apartment. A case of horrible timing, but I wasn’t about to let a few minor details interfere with one of the two weeks out of the year where I get to pretend like I’m an A-List fashion insider!
Also, one positive result of the less than ideal timing was that my mom was in town helping me get settled — so she got to be my lucky date for Day Two of New York Fashion Week.
One cannot fully comprehend or envision the fashion week scene until you’ve experienced it — you just can’t imagine it. So it’s very cool to be able to share that experience with friends. It’s like taking a foreigner to Thanksgiving dinner; a whole new world.
We started off the day at the Son Jung Wan runway show at 12 PM in the Studio. Lots of sophisticated, structured shapes and neutral colors. The models were au naturel with minimal makeup but heavy foundation, which forged a sort of raw and vulnerable mood. Their hair appeared deceivingly sleek in the front, pulled back tightly to make a low ponytail. As the models passed by on the runway, the ponytail was revealed to be a large and overly teased rat’s nest that stood out against the otherwise chic look.
Our seats were extremely close and right across from the models’ entrance to the runway. It was interesting to watch how the models got “in the zone” before going on the runway. Some were smiling, goofing around, and dancing before putting on the mask of seriousness and intensity for the runway — while others seemed to be in quiet meditation prior to entering. Both methods seemed valid because all of the models were effortless and beautiful.
Personally, before I go onstage for dress rehearsals and the first few performances, I’m pretty serious and don’t want to be disturbed. Once I get comfortable with the production, I usually loosen up a bit and joke around backstage to get excited about what I’m performing, even if it’s the 30th performance of “The Nutcracker” that season!
After Son Jung Wan, we went to the pop-up Tressemé salon on site where we had booked appointments earlier in the day. My mom has six kids, so it’s rare to find her being pampered. It felt so amazing to be able to treat her for a change! She was reluctant at first, but we both ended up getting our hair blow-dried straight to perfection. At that point, we realized that the combination of our matching long blonde hair, identical Coach bags, and eerily similar outfit choices were a bit embarrassing. Oh well, anything goes during fashion week!
Feeling like celebrities with our full-bodied tresses, we were on our way to meet Fashiontographer’s Editor-in-Chief, Walter Grio, backstage for the Katya Leonovich runway show to see things from a photographer’s perspective. The show wasn’t until 4 PM, so the backstage scene was relatively calm. My mom was shocked to see the models being made up by a swarm of makeup/hair teams while they nonchalantly played on their phones and nibbled on snacks. I think no matter what field you’re in, what once made you awestruck becomes mundane after a certain amount of time. That’s why you see a lot of photographers and industry people have that look as if they’re watching a documentary on a comparative study of wall paints — rather than a fashion show at New York Fashion Week (unless you’re into wall paint, in which case this documentary exists: “Oh-How They Dry: A Comparative Study on Wall Paints”).
Having experienced the backstage chaos, it was time to show my mom what a non-runway fashion show looks like so we visited the Malan Breton Box Presentation. It can be likened to walking into an exhibit at a museum. The idea is for the models to look like mannequins; they’re not allowed to move. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I always feel like I have awkward eye contact with the models. My mom actually shared the same sentiment, but that doesn’t count because we literally looked like twins and we’re essentially the same person. It probably sounds awful, but it’s really entertaining to try to have staring contests with the models and make them crack their straight faces. Inevitably, I always lose. It’s not as exciting as a runway show, but it’s great to be able to look at the detail of a piece for as long as you desire. To me, the collection seemed a bit gaudy, the colors were obnoxious, and the fabrics looked superficial. However, I couldn’t complain about the large bag of goodies that they handed out as gifts!
Upon exiting, we walked across the plaza to find complimentary neck massages and reluctantly sampled our free kale juice (when in Rome!). I make a point of taking advantage of every freebie opportunity at fashion week, and I think I’ve discovered a long-harbored talent of doing so!
Alexandra Pullen was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and was raised in Chicago, Illinois, where she began her initial ballet training at a local community center. Pullen studied at Dance Center Evanston, Evanston School of Ballet, and Chicago Ballet Arts, and also at the Ruth Page School of Dance, where she joined their company, the Civic Ballet of Chicago. She trained on scholarship at the Joffrey Academy of Ballet in Chicago under Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev. She toured with the Joffrey Trainees to perform as Clara in The Nutcracker Suite. She studied on scholarship at summer programs of the San Francisco Ballet School, School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. In 2012, Pullen competed in the Youth America Grand Prix Chicago Semi-Finals and received a gold medal in the classical category and a silver medal in the contemporary category. She was a Finalist in New York City. In September 2012, Pullen was awarded the Shoot for Change Scholarship to attend the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at ABT, and joined ABT Studio Company two weeks later.
Pullen joined ABT as an apprentice in 2013.