10 Things I've Learned From Dating Someone In The Fashion Industry
Even the best relationships have their problems. Mine just happens to be New York Fashion Week. Max*, my boyfriend of a little over a year, works for a multimillion dollar company that provides services for hundreds of runway shows during spring and fall Fashion Weeks, as well as multiple other fashion industry events throughout the year. My vague understanding of his job is due to the level of secrecy that his high-profile work clientele demands. Max can't tell me the details of his work. Even my pillow talk can’t trump his confidentiality agreements.
During this year's Fashion Week, thousands of celebrities, journalists, and amateur Anna Wintour spotters attended the shows and parties. But most of them failed to realize just how many hours of work go into creating these events. Most of them also failed to realize how many normal couples (be they recently coupled or long married) struggle to keep their relationships functioning while working in the fast-paced, high stress environment of the fashion industry. While many of my friends were obsessively reading coverage about the shows and laughing at North West's temper tantrums (seriously guys, leave her alone, she's a baby), I was binging on Thai food, working on my thesis, and trying desperately not to hate my boyfriend's career choice and the stress it puts on our relationship.
So in honor of Fashion Week, and the people who devote themselves to making it happen, I've created a list of the things I’ve learned from dating someone who works for the fashion industry — and what those things mean to me, especially this time of year.
1. Patience Is A Virtue ... And A Pain
I do a lot of waiting around for Max sometimes. Waiting at my apartment, waiting at his, waiting to find out if I’ll get to see him that night or if he’ll be able to come home with me for a holiday. The waiting is often dependent on the demands of his work, and, fashion being the tricky business that it is, those demands are often last-second and unpredictable. When a show that was supposed to take two hours takes six, Max doesn't have a choice as to whether he will stay or leave to see me. In those cases, what matters is getting his job done, and satisfying his clients.
2. You'll Become Flexible About Plans (Whether You Want To Or Not)
When you date someone in the fashion industry, you have to be aware that their phone could ring at any minute, delivering information that could instantly change their whole day. A show date could change at the last second, a truck filled with important merchandise could break down, or someone could bail on their job. And while his boss has graciously called me a car to drive me home when this has happened, sometimes not even a nice ride in a Suburban as big as my bathroom makes up for an interrupted Saturday.
3. Models Aren't The Only People Who Have To Look Good During Fashion Week
Being well-dressed and carefully groomed isn't just expected of those walking the runways — people working in any fashion-related business are expected to present a certain image, one cemented by wearing chic business casual outfits. While Max doesn't always have to dress up for work, he has come to learn that he usually needs wear something a little fancier than jeans and a t-shirt. At 25, he's slowly begun dressing for his role, and even owns a suit jacket.
4. The Perks Are Not What You'd Imagine
Though you may imagine that I get any free designer swag I want any time I want it, I have actually never received any samples, free tickets, or other freebies as a result of Max's job. He's never brought me merchandise or tried to get me into fashion shows, and I wouldn't expect or want him to. Though, I have told him if he ever does anything related to Beyonce, I may have to make a request.
5. No Day Is Safe From Work — Not Even Valentine's Day
I hold a special place in my heart for Valentine’s Day. I know, I know — for modern, educated women, Valentine’s Day is supposed to be something of a joke. But for me, Valentine's Day symbolizes the romantic love that I missed out on growing up, but which I found as adult with Max.
Which makes winter Fashion Week all the harder for me. Valentine's Day usually falls immediately before or during Fashion Week, making the lack of time I get to spend with my boyfriend during that week all the more frustrating. Hallmark tells me that I should be spending Valentine's Day with my boyfriend, or I’m not normal. Tradition says he should make time for me on that day, no matter what. And despite understanding why he can’t spend the day with me, I'm human, I still have emotions,and sometimes, I get frustrated.
6. The Clothes and Models Are Only Half The Story
Without lighting and sound design experts, the shows of Fashion Week might go on, but they wouldn't be half as interesting. Though typically unnoticed by most fashion show attendees, lighting and sound are two of the most intricate (and lucrative) industries related to fashion, and their intricacies are what make the shows beautiful and unforgettable.
In my time with Max, I've learned a lot about exactly what it takes to bring together a fashion show, down to how much cable has to be run on any given show just to turn on the sound system — which, in turn, has give me a new appreciation for sound systems in restaurants, how things are mixed on the radio or on television and in movies, and how much work goes into creating the overall aesthetic of all the things that go on around us.
7. Fashion Never Sleeps (And Neither Does My Boyfriend)
Fashion industry employees regularly pull 12-15 hour work days in the weeks leading up to Fashion Week. These all-nighters lead them to find some interesting ways to sleep (a popular one among Max and his coworkers is going to a movie in between shows, just to have a dark room to take a nap in). But one place he almost never gets to sleep during these weeks is in bed with me.
8. Compromise Is Always In Vogue
When it comes to dating a fashion professional, understanding what's worth getting genuinely upset about and what I should just let slide can be confusing. I am constantly frustrated about having to change plans, having to commute to see him during these busy weeks, and having him be too tired to do anything but sleep when I am able to see him. In return, he is probably anxious about not being able to answer my texts, preoccupied with the ten thousand things he has to accomplish for clients, and worried whether or not his cats (or I) hate him for being away from home so often.
Be we don't fight about all of it. We can't. We pick and choose our battles, and try to be understanding with each other.
9. Karl Lagerfeld Is Just As Scary As He Seems
Seriously. Total space vampire.
10. Communication Is Key, No Matter What Industry You Work In
Learning how to deal with one another’s issues, help each other through them, and try to be clear about how we're feeling, is one of the ways we're able to survive Fashion Week as a couple — as well as one of the things that has keep our relationship healthy throughout the rest of the year. It's hard, but worth the effort.
Kind of like dating someone in the fashion industry. Several times out of the year, I barely see him. While my friends are fawning over all the new fall and spring looks, I am barely be able to look at them, because those looks are why my boyfriend hasn't been able to reply to a text I sent five hours ago.
But then, he will text me at three in the morning when he gets home from a show, just to tell me how much he loves me. And suddenly, it's all worth it.
*indicates name has been changed.
Images: Giphy (11)