On April 5, La Goulue, a cozy French bistro on Madison Avenue, will close its doors after 36 years of catering to the ladies who stop in for lunch between shopping sprees. But Thursday evening the restaurant was packed elbow to elbow as models, designers, and fashion editors filed in for an "intimate" dinner hosted by Fashion Week Daily to toast the beginning of the usual fashion week festivities.
"I love seeing everyone again—it’s kind of a reunion of the clan, everyone comes back together again," said an enthusiastic Linda Fargo, Bergdorf Goodman’s fashion director.
"I don’t think anyone’s really down," said the designer Dennis Basso, looking around at the attractive people holding Champagne flutes. (The guests, including Waris Ahluwalia and Interview‘s Glenn O’Brian, were given yellow pin-on buttons that read Chic Must Go On!) "The tents are packed with shows, there are new people showing. We have 175 more RSVPs than we had last year. That’s very exciting."
After his show on Feb. 17, Mr. Basso plans to travel to Switzerland to do some trunk shows and then, hopefully, take a trip somewhere with "a little bit of the sun," in March.
"In the past four years I have been developing ready-to-wear, so each year my ready-to-wear evolves further and further," Mr. Basso said of his upcoming collection. "This year I think you’re going to see a lot of evening wear and a lot of day wear that complements the furs and things that can be worn alone and or with fur."
Designer Elise Overland is showing early this year—her presentation is scheduled for Valentine’s Day. But last night Ms. Overland seemed rather relaxed as she greeted friends and sat through the entire dinner.
"I’m glad I’m showing at the beginning of the week because then I can go to other people’s shows," she told the Daily Transom. "I hate to say that my show is a presentation because that has such a feeling of stagnant models standing on boxes. It’s more of an event. It will be three mini shows and the lights and the music will keep changing, so it will be a whole experience. And of course, a full open bar."
Mr. Overland said her collection always gets pulled together very last minute.
"What always happens is I get these last moment panics," she said. "Last season I just threw a skirt over the head of a model, like, ‘Ooh! This is just like a turtleneck jacket!’ And of course it was something that everyone wanted to buy and I had to say, ‘I’m so sorry, it’s just a skirt!’"
Nearby, Ms. Fargo was still air-kissing her way through the crowded room. Was that a printed scheduled peering out of her black leather purse?
"How does that look to you?" she asked pulling a plastic-sleeve-encased, color-coded sheet of paper that seemed to have every hourly slot of the next week occupied. "And you know what, though? Every day when we reprint it, we take the day before off so that it looks like less and less. It’s my technique."
Ms. Fargo admitted that there was a specific reason for her giddy mood that evening.
"Already today, we’ve snagged—well, I’m not going to tell you who or what—but we’ve already snagged someone very, very young, someone we’re very excited about," she said. "That kind of thing always creates a lot of energy. So we’re all emailing each other and getting jazzed up."
With such a busy schedule, we wondered whether Ms. Fargo, who’s done the Fashion Week rounds more than a few times in her career, felt pressure to look elegant every day.
"You know, that’s the one thing I think I’ve become more relaxed about," she said. "I’ve become a little bit more uniform. It’s textures of black—matte to shiny and leathers and satin and fur. It’s simple and I have my red lipstick I carry in bag so that when it becomes nighttime I’ve got the thing that transforms me from day to night."
And what did Ms. Fargo think of the front row occupants who showcase over-the-top Fashion Week wardrobes?
"I love it. Because they are really subscribing to fashion," she said. "I wouldn’t want everyone to get into a uniform like me. You need people who really have the passion for fashion."