Inside Lauren Conrad’s All-Grown Up Fashion Week Debut – Vanity Fair
It was a sea of topknots.
The hundred or so people milling about at the cocktail party preceding Lauren Conrad’s New York Fashion Week debut all looked as though they could be extras on an episode of The Hills (that Laguna Beach supporting players Lo Bosworth and Dieter Schmitz were floating around the room only amplified this effect). Everyone was dressed in black (whether literally or in spirit), a glass of Veuve Clicquot rosé champagne in one hand and a phone held limply in the other. The décor was sort of Anthropologie-store-meets-airport-terminal (off-white drapes, off-white flowers, faux branches). I wasn’t getting cell-phone service, so I searched for a Wi-Fi network, only to find one (“LC GUEST” ) had been created specifically for the occasion (of course, I thought). I watched as Ashley Tisdale took a selfie with her husband on a plush couch. As we were all shepherded, shortly before seven P.M., into the room where the actual runway show would take place, as if into a leisurely Chelsea brunch, I heard one woman behind me turn to her friend and say, taking stock of the room we were leaving, “I hope my wedding is this pretty—I mean . . .”
Yes, we were all, in one way or another, LC GUESTS Wednesday night, at the Skylight Modern, for the 29-year-old Conrad’s first runway show, the unofficial start to this year’s Fashion Week. For most of us, our introduction to Conrad was via reality shows Laguna Beach and The Hills, where Conrad stood out as a straight shooter. She was the friend who would tell it to you like it was, with a lack of phoniness or condescension. Whereas the Kardashians’ lives of excess are intrinsic to the appeal of their show, Conrad’s “normal” life—boring brunches, drunken fights, miscommunications over meaningless items, fallings-out with good friends—was one many saw themselves in. Now, Conrad, like many a former reality star, has endeavored to become a lifestyle brand in of herself. She’s written novels (the first of which was a New York Times best-seller), has multiple fashion lines, started a beauty-related Web site, and has 4.4 million Instagram followers to her name. Her “relatability” remains a selling point now, as well; her runway show streamed live on the Internet, and her entire collection was shoppable online at kohls.com (at very reasonable price points) as soon as the show ended. For $45, you can have the very same “scallop lace” crop top Conrad wore herself to the show.
As we took our seats at the show, women wielding phones weaved amongst the audience, talking into their cameras as they Periscoped the event. That, in tandem with the fourth-lead-in-a-CW-show good looks of almost all the attendees, gave the scene the vibe of a Y.A. dystopian movie. When Chrissy Teigen entered the room, taking a seat next to Tisdale in the front row, photographers swarmed and even the most “chic” of the fashion-blogger-editor types in the audience craned their necks ever so slightly to get a look. At this event, Teigen—whose recent ascent has been in large part derived from her popular social-media accounts—is, to Generation Double Tap, basically Angelina Jolie.
The show was—like Conrad herself—solid and appealing and uncontroversial. When I chatted with Dylan Penn (daughter of Sean Penn and Robin Wright) afterwards, she noted the music (mostly comprised of sunny dance-pop tracks) was her favorite part. I wrote the following words in my iPhone over the course of the roughly 10-minute show: “fringe,” “lace,” “comfortable coats,” “velvet shorts,” “models wearing sunglasses!!!!!,” “flapper?,” “shimmering,” “prom is going to be revolutionized!!!” These were looks my 13-year-old cousin would no doubt add to her Pinterest board, but which I could easily see any number of my twentysomething friends wearing to a bridal shower, as well. My mom would probably find them cute, too. Teigen took several photos with her iPhone as the various ensembles paraded in front of her.
After the show, Conrad emerged in the press area looking relieved, if still residually anxious, like an 11th grader after taking the SATs. She was hugged by Teigen, and Tisdale, and Penn, and photographed and interviewed and then photographed some more. Tisdale’s husband and Zac Efron’s girlfriend made small talk about 30 feet away. Without thinking about it, I posted a video of my surroundings on Snapchat; it felt like, in a certain way, if I hadn’t, it would have been as though I hadn’t been there that night at all.