NYFW 2012: Drama Brings Iconic Inspiration

17 Feb

NYFW, aka New York Fashion Week has been nothing short of legendary {beyond the normal slew of celebs & glitterati descending upon the Big Apple}. Some of the oldest fashion legends have made the biggest headlines, like Bill Cunningham and Zelda Kaplan.

New York Fashion Week 2012.

New York is all about the next big thing. The city moves fast and so does its trends. And they say if you can survive New York, then you can make it anywhere …

This is because to make it in New York you can’t just have charisma, you have to keep proving yourself over again, obsessively,  as bigger and badder than you were the last time you hit the streets and made a scene.

It’s authentically being a tenacious original that makes legends here in the Big Apple. So it is little wonder that some good old fashioned drama (involving two style icons) at NYFW set ablaze the style headlines.

Bill Cunningham at New York Fashion Week, February 2012. (photo by Sam Horine/Gothamist)

Fashionista reports that The New York Times photog Bill Cunningham was shooting outside the Reed Krakoff show during Fashion Week on Wednesday (2/15) when he was hit by an SUV.

In actuality, according to my inside source at the NYT, Mr. Cunningham’s foot was run over by an SUV taxi, he walked away (with a little limp) and kept shooting the glitterati. Refusing to see a doctor, he seems more embarrassed by the attention than upset at the “incident”.

However, I think the attention was well-warranted: He is in his early-80s and is a genius at his work, as well as a beautiful human being. So, any brush with possible harm is cause for alarm when it comes to “Invinca-Bill”, as some folks dubbed him on Twitter when the news broke.

But there was on fashion icon who did not walk-away from the runway on Wednesday.

Zelda Kaplan in one of the final photographs of her life. She died on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012, while sitting in the front row of a New York Fashion Week show.

{Fashion Maven Dies in Front-Row of New York Fashion Week}
95-year-old Zelda Kaplan was her normal vivacious self in the front row posing for photogs and fans before the Joanna Mastroianni show, when right as the models began their 1pm strut, Ms. Kaplan slumped in her seat.

Her flanking seatmates thought she had fainted however, she had died of natural causes and was pronounced dead later.

Her trademark style was over-sized circular sunglasses, and colorful patterned outfits with matching hats which were custom made and often from fabric she purchased directly from artisans in those countries.

This signature style came from her abundant time spent in Southeat Asia and Africa as a humanitarean, dedicated to preventing female genital mutilation.

Dubbed “club kid” and an “it girl”, Ms. Kaplan often kept late hours with decades-younger fashionistas. Last year, she told StyleLikeU:

“So many young people are so afraid of becoming old. I would like them to know that from someone who is ninety-four years young, it is fun to be old.”

What’s the Take-Away?

Youth is defined by the child within.

I am struck by how these two, born approximately during the eras of the Great War (WW1) and the Great Depression, live more fully than people who are a fraction of their age.

I see people who are 50- and 60-years-old who look weathered, wrinkled and move like decripit stiffs. Certainly, this can’t be attributed to just one thing — perhaps health, lifestyle, injuries, and nutrition all compounded over the years.

Then again, I do believe the spunk of the late Zelda Kaplan and the continued spryness of Bill Cunningham is much like my great-grandmother and great-grandfather (in-laws to each other, not spouses) who lived into their 90s as independent people, mentally present and physically able.

It seems to do with a spirit of doing, of living, of being engaged and involved in the world around oneself.

Ponce de Leon

{The Fountain of Youth Discovered!}
Ponce de Leon roamed all over Florida trying to find the Fountain of Youth, succombing in his quest to illness — some say being driven mad, first — yet, when I was a teenager, I discovered the secret of youth after a  few short years of volunteering at a nursing home.

The key seems to be in “never arriving”.

The death spiral of aging begins to set in on those people who start to retreat from life once they reach a pinnacle in life, a destination of life achievement, as created by their own perception — usually crafted as a young person and sometimes based on society’s gender roles and standards of self worth/success.

The Fountain of Youth, thereby, is never letting yourself settle into a mindset of being past something or that new developments are irrelevant.

For example, my great-grandfather never sat down to use a laptop, but he knew all about them: how they worked, how emails would communicate, how social media networks were beginning to develop.

{this is not my grandfather, just a stock image!}

He saw new technologies and cultural movements as an opportunity to learn, rather than as a reason to take himself out of the game.

By staying curious, he moved forward with the new generations and as a result he stayed engaged in his life with his body and mind following suit — with purpose and a clear intention of living because life all around him was meaningful and interesting.

In my very unscientific research, as a life-long anthropology, sociology & history student, where youth comes from, is:

  • Staying Active.
  • Keeping Connected.
  • Being Related.

Also, a very positive mental outlook helps! As for me, I’ve always said that I am going to live until I am 124-years-old … and it will be five quarters-of-a-century of fun, vibrancy and love.

Here’s to you, Zelda Kaplan! You’ve been an inspiration on how to live an iconic life!

Zelda Kaplan {June 20, 1917 – February 15, 2012}




One Response to “NYFW 2012: Drama Brings Iconic Inspiration”

  1. Billy Barnes March 16, 2012 at 3:23 PM #

    Sadness, it’s bad enough to get ran over by a taxi, but a taxi SUV!!


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