Ever wonder what it's like to give a party and have nobody show up? Just ask Behnaz Sarafpour ...or maybe don't.
It's probably too painful to discuss.
The designer gamely took a bow after her Spring 2010 show with a smile, but we felt a twinge imagining how she must have felt waving to the nearly empty room. It was something of a disaster by anyone's standards. As we exited the show, we overheard someone commenting that had weather had been gloomy and rainy like the day before, the turnout would have been even worse. Could nobody else be convinced to come see the latest collection by a prominent, well-liked designer?
We were pretty astonished by the meager showing by press and buyers, but we had an inkling that her PR people were having trouble when, having never been invited to one of her shows at all, we received an email invitation including a seat assignment just the day before. Hey, we know we're not always on everybody's A-Lists, and we're familiar with last minute evites that pretty clearly indicate a little challenge filling the house. We don't mind. Surely, the trouble was mostly because of the show's 9 AM Sunday morning call time, not at Bryant Park, but at the heavily hyped but clearly flawed M·A·C & Milk at the Western end of 15th Street. We have been to some poorly attended shows before, and this was not even the most sparse (that, sadly, would have been Aurelio Costarella Fall '07 at Bumble & Bumble), but most of them were the unfortunate results of triple and even quadruple booking the same time slot by people who should have known to expect the worst. Not so here. Behnaz's only competition was, we believe, the hour itself along with the inconvenience of the location. Sure, the Meatpacking District is popular for shopping and clubbing, but our anecdotal survey suggest that the fashion week crowd is already wearying of repeated trips between Bryant Park and Milk Studios which lies several blocks across town from even the most convenient subway line. The trek has been elevating taxi bills and tiring feet.
Still, one would still think that Behnaz Sarafpour, one of the better known designers showing at M·A·C & Milk, would be able to at least fill the small room, which comparable in size to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week's Salon tent. Her audience, however, filled 25% of the seats at best.
She is certainly no unknown neophyte. Though she is an independent niche player who has shown for about 8 years now, she has quietly built a faithful clientele for her youthful, feminine collection at the best stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. Barneys, a longtime supporter had its top fashion executives at the show bright and early along with a team from Neiman Marcus. Are Judy Collinson, Julie Gilhart and Ken Downing the only retail execs who are professional enough to appear at an early show? They were joined by stylist Freddie Leiba and a few others, but ultimately, there were barely enough warm bodies fill the front rows even after the apoplectic looking venue staff implored everyone to move to the front of their sections at about 9:40 AM, when restless photographers were beginning to howl for the show to finally start.
It's a pity, because she showed an appealing collection in draped and pleated silks and lace mixed with an urbane sensibility that kept the looks fresh. It was breezy, charming, beautifully detailed and, most importantly, all looked easy to sell, which is really what everyone is looking for these days. Here's hoping that more people stop into her showroom for a look, and that next season finds her in a more favorable time slot and location. Since hardly anyone was there, we tried to post as many looks as we could, so decide for yourself. We think Behnaz deserves a better shot.