What Could Go Wrong When Fashion People Have to Share an Elevator

Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

“This is stupid, this makes no sense,” said a woman waiting for the elevator at Starrett-Lehigh building before Weiderhoft. “Why did they pick this building?” Sure, fashiongoers have been complaining about New York Fashion Week for years. There is no central location (RIP the Bryant Park tents), and when people try to get from one show to another, they are often spanning entire boroughs of land. This season, the bane of all fashion folks’ existence? The elevator at the Starrett-Lehigh Building. When you mix all of that with a sprinkle of entitlement, the perpetual state of urgency living inside every New Yorker, and a few overcrowded elevators, what could possibly go wrong?

The elevators are located in a 19-story warehouse in Chelsea where designers like Sergio Hudson, Ludovic De Saint Sernin, Wiederhoeft, and Area presented their fall 2024 collections. The clothes prompted plenty of conversation — Sergio Hudson showed a wearable assortment of suits and separates, Ludovic De Saint Sernin sent provocative BDSM-inspired looks down the runway, Wiederhoeft played with texture and corseted silhouettes, and Area made us look (literally) — but the fact that hundreds of editors, buyers, influencers, models, fashion personalities, and celebrities were all funneled through a few small elevators, forced to be in close quarters, in order to watch these shows was equally entertaining.

The Sergio Hudson show at the Starrett-Lehigh Building. Photo: Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Even though Starrett-Lehigh isn’t new to the NYFW calendar, more designers than ever opted to show there this season — and attendees were not happy about it. For starters, the location of Starrett-Lehigh is not ideal. Fashion’s favorite warehouse is on 26th Street near the West Side Highway, which is a hike from pretty much every neighborhood in Manhattan and Brooklyn, other than Greenwich Village, and several blocks away from the closest subway station. It’s worth noting that those who did take public transportation to this middle-of-nowhere venue during NYFW probably exited at 34th Street Hudson-Yards Station, a.k.a. home of the world’s tallest escalator. (In between shows, I tried to walk all the way up it without stopping for the sake of this article and failed miserably. I’m certainly out of shape but also no escalator should have that many steps.)

One friend even told me she overheard two people joking about “starting a boycott” of Starrett-Lehigh because it’s so inconvenient. That’s just one of the issues, though — once guests actually arrived, the check-in process was always chaotic. Of course, I overheard the usual scoffs and “don’t you know who I am?” type of comments when publicists tried to verify IDs, but this venue also had crowd control issues. Shows took place on the top floor, which is only accessible by elevator, and each elevator can only fit about ten people at a time. I recently caught up with one fashion writer who overhead a particularly unhinged conversation before the Area show that went a little like this: “No, you don’t understand. I have an invitation,” one guest said. “I’m not supposed to wait in line! I’m calling the PR.” To which the person handling check-in at the door snapped back, “I AM the PR!” Once she finally got inside, she had an awkward interaction with a fashion personality whom she “really does not like” that resulted in the two riding together in the same elevator — up 19 floors — to see the show. Safe to say, the Starrett-Lehigh elevators were not a safe space for those of us with social anxiety.

Aquaria, Julia Fox, and Susanne Bartsch at the Wiederhoeft show. Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

It was, however, a fashionable feast for the eyes and the epicenter of industry gossip. Memorable items that sailed up the Starrett-Lehigh elevators this season include platform boots with taxidermied rats caged inside, a hamburger halo won by Vita Kari, and a diamond necklace that spelled out the word “prenup.” As for the topics of conversation? There were plenty of interesting rumors and tea-spilling but one bit in particular really made me giggle: “She wants to be a Wiederhoeft bride but the most she’d ever give is something off Fifth Ave.”

What Could Go Wrong When Fashion People Share an Elevator