CC is a teacher at the International Academy of Design & Technology in the Fashion department. (As a completely unrelated aside, I want to note that IADT has recently begun offering classes in Computer Game Design, which is kind of cool & unusual!) Anyway, she has students who have designed some of the garments that will be paraded for our enjoyment, so she has a vested interest in seeing this. As for me… well, CC invited me along, and it looks like fun! Truth be told, I’ve thought such a thing might be fun ever since I saw the pricelessly funny documentary Unzipped, so here goes!
The event on Thursday is “Imagine 2007.” Here’s a quote from the website to give you an idea: “Sponsored by General Motors, Imagine 2007 is the only event at IADT that utilizes every academic department to make it one of the most successful, exciting and rewarding fashion shows in the city of Chicago. It is much more than just portraying the best design talent, Imagine 2007 also portrays the best student talent in Fashion Design (garments), Interior Design (set design), Merchandising Management (production assistance), Multimedia Production & Design (video production), Advertising & Design (collateral materials), and Information Technology (data collection).”
While this will be the first fashion show I’ve attended, it will be the second one I’ve been to. You see, the other time I went, I was working. It was during my year as Dr. Zap. For the uninitiated, I was working for the Impression 5 Science Museum in Lansing, Michigan. My primary job was to drive around the state in a rented station wagon full of chemicals and equipment, doing science shows at area schools. During the shows, I wore a long white lab coat with the words “Dr. Zap” emblazoned on the front pocket.
Yes, most of the shows were at schools, but this one time, I was unaccountably booked to work a fashion show. It was specifically a show of children’s fashions, so I guess somebody thought that I could help divert the little darlings and maybe even entertain them. I think we could all agree after the fact that it was a bad idea; not a good fit. There I was, doing science demonstrations on the runway, while no one there, parent or adult, could have cared less about it. There was one moment, though, that bears recounting.
One very cute, but very shy boy had the task of wearing and parading an expensive fur coat at a certain point in the show. He was terrified, but his mother stood with him backstage, vehemently drilling him in how he was to proceed when his name was called. When the moment came, he had to be pushed out onto the stage. All of mom’s drilling proved to be utterly for naught. The boy tentatively walked here and there, with the audience absolutely adoring how cutely shy he was. His stroll engendered more laughter and more applause than any other child who came out, because he was just so adorable.
Not everyone felt that way about his performance, though. I was backstage, surrounded by dozens of other children and moms, when he returned from his awkward parade, His mother strode up to him and smacked him hard right across his pale face. “What was that?” she demanded. “That is NOT what I told you to do!” He cried quietly and tried to apologize, but mom did not want to hear it. She grabbed all of their stuff and they left quite abruptly.
You will notice that I do not talk about intervening in this scenario myself, even though I was quite nearby. That is a point that still nags at me from time to time. Let me complete the picture for you – as mom was going through her tirade backstage, I looked at the other children and their mothers and realized that no one was exhibiting any sign of disapproval or surprise at her behavior. It was obvious that many of these children had seen or experienced this sort of behavior enough to be quite nonchalant about it, and that many of the moms were in silent agreement, or at least acceptance, of that woman’s approach to child rearing/career management. So far as I could tell, I was the only person there who was feeling any sense of shock or revulsion. I felt at that moment that I had no allies and no power to affect the situation for the better, so I did nothing. I still don’t know for sure if that was the right call, but I do know this – while I am not normally religious at all, I hope there is a hell for stage mothers such as that one. I have been in various plays with children in them who were accompanied by stage mothers who varied greatly in their levels of fanaticism, but this one tops them all. Perhaps the world of fashion is much crueler than the world of theater; I don’t know. Perhaps when my career as a fashion model heats up, I will have a stronger basis for comparison.