Ok, I'll admit it: I'm a hoarder. I collect all sorts of miscellaneous and random things, and come Fashion Week, my head goes into a tailspin with all the show invites, party invites, and goodies in between. You could call it my Mecca. But above all (yes, perhaps even the Marc Jacobs invite), I look forward to the seasonal YSL Manifesto, the French fashion house's guerilla-style approach to spreading brand awareness via some very clever gimmicks. Having scored past such versions featuring the likes of Kate Moss and Gisele Bundchen, shows or not, I wasn't about to let the latest edition slip away.
I decided, however, that I would rely on my own instincts and fortitude in obtaining a copy (or two or three) instead of simply emailing the YSL publicists. Following my first show, I high-tailed it down to 55 Great Jones at Bowery, where YSL debuted an Edition Unisex earlier in the week. No Manifesto in sight, but I check out the shop anyway. Sleek and stylish, the concrete space stocks a pared down collection of versatile garments and accessories, none of which I was in the mood to try on in the cold weather. Strike One for me on my Manifesto hunt. I knew the Manifesto (packaged in a chic YSL cotton tote bearing a heart-shaped USB port in honor of Valentine's Day) would be at Bryant Park, home to New York Fashion Week. Approaching said venue, I began to walk faster and faster...noticing all the while that passerbys all had the coveted catalogue and tote in hand. A mere 20 steps and victory would be mine! Little did I know that the fashion Gods had other plans for me that afternoon. After discovering that all the totes at Bryant Park had already been handed out, I left empty-handed (but not without the Manifesto itself, which was aplenty). "57th and Madison will be our next stop," chirped one of the Manifesto girls, stylishly dressed in a down parka (not of YSL make) bearing authentic YSL monikers. "We'll be there at 2 p.m. And don't be late!" Strike Two for me on my Manifesto hunt.
Great, I thought. I can hit another show and then grab some lunch uptown before returning for my afternoon of shows. Arriving at 57th Street and Madison Avenue early, I pop into Chanel, YSL, and Burberry to check out the spring goods, then go searching for food. Where did I end up? Not Fred's or BG mind you, but a "health foods cafe" where I ordered a lo-cal salad. What was brought to me was a massive scoop of egg whites dumped on top of what was essentially 20 shredded carrots. So as I feasted like a rabbit, I checked my watch every two minutes to make sure I wouldn't be late for my date with Manifesto. At precisely 1:55 p.m., I arrive at the designated corner and waited. No one. I cross the street and wait some more. No one still. At about 2:30 p.m., my fingers begin to go numb as I stand there looking aimlessly down Madison Avenue. With nothing to do, I turned my attention to those passerbys who whizzed by me from left and right. Conclusion: there are a lot of tourists in New York who like to take pictures of store windows. Along the way, I had seemingly become the corner's unofficial customer service station. Among the questions/comments asked to me: "Is Hermès this way?" "Where can I catch the No. 6 train?" "Nice Balenciaga bag."
At 2:45 p.m., I felt the life drain out of me (not to mention lower back pain begin to set in) as I began to sulk silently and give up all hope. Just as the cab I hopped in had driven 20 feet past the YSL store on 57th Street, I spotted the Manifesto girls. They had apparently decided to stage their distribution at the store and not on previously said corner. So what's a fan to do? I yelled "STOP!" paid the $3 dollars for the 20 feet I traveled in the cab and dashed across the street. Score! The reward was two mint sets of the Manifesto--totes and heart-shaped UBS port and all. What's more, I arrived back at Bryant Park feeling on top of the world - just in time for Barbie's 50th anniversary show.
Jim Shi was born in Brussels, Belgium and grew up in Paris before moving to New York City. For the past four and a half years, Shi was fashion news editor of IMG's fashion and media industry publication The Daily and editor of its sister web site, Fashion Week Daily. He has covered Fashion Weeks in New York, Milan, and Paris.
PHOTOS BY PATRICK MCMULLAN