Mr. & Mrs. Frey at Fashion Week

Renegade scribe James Frey and his wife, Maya, made their runway début in the front row at Cynthia Rowley’s défilé de mode at Gotham Hall.

“We’re just friends with Bill and Cynthia and we’ve come to support her,” Mr. Frey said, referring to the designer and her author-husband, Bill Powers.

“My wife is into fashion,” he said. He was a little flustered: “So, I’m what my wife’s into.”

Across the runway sat Martha Stewart.

“I’m wearing a Lacoste shirt, Hanes t-shirt and Addidas shoes,” he said, wearily.

And what are the pants?

“I have no idea,” he said.

“Those are J Crews,” said Ms. Frey.

“Probably J Crew,” Mr. Frey agreed.

“Oh, and your glasses are Oliver Peoples,” she said to him. A young mother, she was all smiles. “And his earrings are Elsa Peretti Tiffany,” she said.

They laughed. “Cheesy!” Mr. Frey said with a groan. Now he was a bit more limbered up.

“My top four fashion books?” he said, with imminent compliance. “‘Tall Island’ by Bill Powers.” What a surprise. He thought for a bit more before appealing to his wife. “Uhm, what other fashion books are there?”

She, too, cocked her head to one side in meditation.

Then Mr. Frey got one: “What was the Ellis book about models who are terrorists?” he said, the title just on the tip of his tongue.

“The one that just came out?” Ms. Frey asked. Could she be more of a reader than he?

“No, a few back,” Mr. Frey said with haste. “Modelrama, or something.”

“Glamorama!” Ms. Frey shouted, caught up in the moment. They made a good team. All around, editors and celebrities were getting seated. Jaime King blathered to a television reporter.

“There’s gotta be some McInerney book about fashion….” Mr. Frey said. He was still two books short of the prize. “How about my wife’s monthly edition of Vogue?” he said. The game wasn’t fun for him anymore. “That’s one of my top four fashion books,” he said firmly. “Yah, I flip through it. The pictures are beautiful. I don’t know what I’m looking at, but….”

“We’ve never been to a fashion show. Never!” said Ms. Frey. “I just love beautiful clothes—I love to look at beautiful people. That’s what’s so great about living in New York, too, unlike any other place. We live downtown”—in February, 2003, the Observer‘s Joe Hagan visited their apartment in TriBeCa and found two Picassos, two Matisses, and a Dali—”And you just go out on the street and you feel inspired! You think, ‘Oh, I sort of have that in my closet. I can put that together!”

Ms. Frey used to work as a copywriter in advertising, but not anymore. She stays home to take care of the couple’s daughter, Maren, who turns two in December. She is said to have been the prototype for a character in Josh Kilmer-Purcell’s book, “I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir,” about the author’s life and times as a drag queen.

And what was Ms. Frey wearing?

She pointed to items on her person in succession: “Prada, Hermes, Hermes, J Crew,” she said. “And Penguin.”

—Nicholas Boston