Fashion becomes him

Lauren Carll

For second-year fashion design major Phil Fry, New York fashion week has been an annual reality for the past three years

“I’d say my favorite part is meeting so many amazing people when you’re there,” he said. “Not even the celebrities or the people in the industry, but the people that you work with there every day. I’ve met one of my best friends while working Fashion Week

Credit: Ron Soltys

Phil Fry saw flashing cameras, sky-high stilettos, teased tresses, designer duds and fierce struts down the runway, all while seating sponsors and some of Hollywood’s fabulous celebrities during fashion’s biggest event of the year: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City.

For the past three years in February , Fry, a second-year fashion design major with senior standing, has attended the fast-paced, glamorous week that fashion majors here at Kent State would die to see.

Fry said he learned about the opportunity to work at Fashion Week in 2006. Fry’s mentor, professor Shammi Chowdhury, approached him at work.

“I used to be a manager at Charlotte Russe in Chapel Hill, and she (Chowdhury) came in and said, ‘Would you like to go to Fashion Week?’ And, of course, I was like, ‘Yeah!'” Fry said as he played with the zipper of his black and brown houndstooth track jacket. “She gave me the contact’s name in New York, and I called and talked to her and then sent my resume.”

Chowdhury said she recommended Fry go to Fashion Week for a few different reasons.

“He looked a little upset the day I saw him in the mall,” Chowdhury said. “He needed a little push. Phillip is just so excited about fashion, and he really has a love and passion for the industry.”

Chowdhury said Fry has a lot of traits that will get him far in the fashion industry.

“Phillip just exudes excitement,” she said. “He’s always willing to work hard, and he’s very good at handling disappointment. It’s very important to have a tough exterior in this business, and he definitely has it.”

Fry sent his resume full of fashion classes and job experience to IMG Fashion, a company that manages and produces designer fashion events.

IMG Fashion accepted his resume and provided him with the opportunity to work in VIP-sponsored seating.

“We seat and escort the people who basically pay for Fashion Week to happen,” Fry said. “The Mercedes-Benz people, DHL (delivery service), American Express and Judith Ripka, who is a jewelry designer. Each venue has certain seats that are always for the sponsors.”

Fry said the week is full of excitement, but it can be very busy and hectic.

“I work every single show, all day, every day,” Fry said. “We’ll go in and talk to the tent directors and make sure everything is running smoothly, make sure the seats haven’t been double-booked, and then escort the guests to their seats, hold their seats and make sure if they need anything, we get it for them.”

Fry said he has met many celebrities while working Fashion Week including: “America’s Next Top Model” season-two winner Yoanna House, Brittany Murphy, Tyra Banks, Kimora Lee Simmons, Lauren “LC” Conrad, Martha Stewart and fashion designer Betsey Johnson.

“The first season I went, I met Betsey Johnson, who is my idol, my absolute idol,” Fry said. “She is the coolest woman ever. She’s so fun and just so funny.”

Not only has Fry met models and celebrities, but he has also seen the final collections of “Project Runway’s” top five designers: Sweet P, Chris, Rami, Christian and Jillian. Although he did not meet any of the final designers, Fry said Christian is his favorite.

“He is my favorite, by far, because I think he is the most talented out of all of them,” Fry said. “Everyone thinks he is cocky, and he can be sometimes, but his garments are amazing.”

He said he has watched “Project Runway” since the first season aired, and he has learned a lot about fashion.

Fry said he believes Tim Gunn is the one who helps bring the ratings, and he met him during Fashion Week 2006.

“I was going through a roped-off area with my all-access pass, and I heard someone say, ‘Excuse me, can I get through there, too?’ and I turn around, and it’s Tim Gunn,” Fry said. “And I was like, ‘Oh yeah, of course you can,’ and he walked on through. Even though it was a quick little encounter, he was so nice. He definitely makes the show.”

Although Fry has met many famous people, he said it’s the everyday kind of people who he really enjoys working with.

“I’d say my favorite part is meeting so many amazing people when you’re there,” he said. “Not even the celebrities or the people in the industry, but the people that you work with there every day. I’ve met one of my best friends while working Fashion Week.”

Fry said there are also many networking connections. He said he has already had job offers but declined them because he hasn’t graduated yet.

After three years, Fry continues to praise Chowdhury for informing him of the life-changing opportunity to work Fashion Week.

“It all comes back to Mrs. Chowdhury,” Fry said. “I think we need more professors like her. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have been able to do this.”

Chowdhury said she is proud of Fry’s accomplishments, and she hopes more Kent State students will get the opportunity to work Fashion Week.

“It’s really the icing on the cake for many students,” she said. “They get to see the excitement and the glamour and know that one day, this is what they can be a part of.”

Fry also said he is glad he is part of Kent State’s fashion school.

Contact fashion reporter Lauren Carll at [email protected].