An insider’s guide to not being basic at NZFW

Anny Ma

In her four years as front-of-house manager at New Zealand Fashion Week, Anny Ma has consumed countless coffees, clocked up thousands of steps, and witnessed the thousands of tantrums that come with New Zealand’s most-anticipated fashion event.

These tantrums have taught her a few things about how not to behave before, during, and after the shows. Want to avoid getting side-eyed by Anny? Read on.

North West tantrum at NYFW

Coco Chanel once said “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off”.
This rule most definitely applies to Fashion Week, and the one thing you should be taking off is your ego. We know your grandmother told you that you could be anything you wanted when you grew up, but that does not extend to qualifying for the front row. When it comes to a fashion show, you are only as important as your ticket allocation (and maybe your custom Gucci). It doesn’t matter if you’re a “very good friend of this designer”, claim to work for a highly-respected global fashion house, or only refer to yourself in the third person/your initials. If you don’t have a ticket that says front row, you don’t get front row. If you don’t have a ticket and then proceed to make a scene in front of 400 people to get front row, your chances of that prized placement will fade faster than your fake tan. Auf Wiedersehen!

A surefire way to guarantee losing your seat is to apply Chanel’s advice to your watch, and leave it at home before turning up to the show after its start time.
Regardless of whether you’ve climbed the social ladder to a front row ticket or you’re still perching on a lower rung, if you are late, your seat disappears faster than an 11pm post-show burger. Despite what you may hope, the show can’t be delayed, and the photo pit’s images can’t be obstructed by the silhouette of a tardy guest tottering down the catwalk. Go directly to GA. Do not pass the models. Do not collect a goodie bag. Do not Instagram something to do with a ‘squad’.

Kardashians entering Yeezy show at NYFW

You know who else doesn’t get a seat? That uninvited guest you thought you could sneak in as your ‘plus one’.
There are few invitation-only occasions that allow for unexpected guests to show up on a whim, and Fashion Week is unfortunately not one of them. As much as we would love a chair to materialise out of thin air for your ex-partner’s cousin’s godmother twice removed, we really can’t. I’ve done many seating plans in my life, and they’re not as fun as you would imagine. Fitting every guest into the limited number of seats (and having to account for personal politics) is a torturous process, and every time an extra person saunters in, your heart drops even further than the end of season prices on Matches. FYI, the unexpected guests are never as exciting as a 70% off cashmere sweater.

Once the lights go down and the show music starts, guests think they’re moving with the stealth of Catwoman as they shuffle out of their assigned seats…
…be it to try to sneak into the front, or to sit with a long-lost friend only caught up with at every NZFW. Unbeknownst to them, they couldn’t be more high-vis if they were wearing Moschino head-to-toe and carrying a road cone. Nobody wants to be Annie in Bridesmaids making Stove’s life hell, so everybody just needs to sit tight in their assigned seats – even if there’s a colonial woman churning butter on the runway.

Models drinking at Chanel show

Annie is an excellent example of why you shouldn’t drink too much before a flight, and the same rule applies to a show.
Other than the obvious dangers of too many bubbles, another reason to limit your sips is that getting up mid-show for a bathroom break is not an option. Wearing the little black dress, or the little black dress? That’s an option. Leaving a show when the doors are shut? Not an option. Unless there’s an emergency (or a screaming child), a distracting guest walking out while the models are smizing is not okay – especially if their ticket says GA, but they’ve made their exit via the front row to swipe an unattended goodie bag.

Many people are happy to stay put like good little guests but push their luck as the show finishes, making a dive for any front row goodie bags that haven’t found a home.
This is the fashion equivalent of looping back to revisit the free sample stand at New World – you don’t need it, it’s not worth it, and it’s just a little uncomfortable for everybody around you to witness.

Paris Hilton on cellphone at Fashion Week

Last of all, we can’t forget that when we’re at a fashion show, we’re there to see the clothing and support the designers who have spent at least $2,792 on coffees during the making of their collection, and cried no less than 983 times.
It doesn’t matter how many megapixels your iPhone in its marble case boasts, watching the culmination of months of work through your phone (or the phone of the person in front of you) is not the best viewpoint, or etiquette. You can upload to Snapchat from your camera roll now, so there’s no excuses for using your phone as a TV any more. FYI: posting no Instagram is better than a blurry one. If you’re buried in your phone like your life will end when you break eye contact with it? Be like the friends you’re sitting there Facebook stalking, and simply fake a smile for the next 15 minutes – sans phone.

Fashion Week is meant to be fun, so don’t forget to have some – just not at the expense of others.
The best way to guarantee a front row seat? Edit a fashion magazine, or failing that, just buy yourself one at Fashion Weekend. Armed with a radio, lanyard, and Batiste dry shampoo, I look forward to seeing you all there – I’ll be the one wearing a cute twenty-seven names outfit with impractical heels then spotted 45 minutes later in much more appropriate Stan Smiths.

Words: Anny Ma
Photos: Getty