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Style + Design

Behind the Scenes at New York Fashion Week

We caught up with fashion illustrator Meagan Morrison to get the lowdown on the runways, the parties ... and the after parties at NYFW 2016.

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Every fall, editors, models and Hollywood glitterati descend on Manhattan for one of the fashion world’s main events: New York Fashion Week. From afar, it appears a glorified party combining beautiful people and high-fashion, but for Meagan Morrison of @TravelWriteDraw, one of the industry’s foremost fashion illustrators, the September event is much more than a weeklong photo op.

Hired by top fashion publications and brands (think: W Magazine and Calvin Klein) to capture NYFW in all of its glorious details, Meagan spends Fashion Week sprinting from event to event to illustrate models, celebrities and fashion in real-time. The tools in her arsenal? A sketchpad, markers and a fabulous pair of shoes. (“But never high-heels. New York has too much grit for that”).

We caught up with Meagan in between shows to get the scoop on the star-studded event—plus, find out what this year’s haute new “it” spots are.

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Photo by Justin James

How many years have you been going to NYFW?

“I first started going to Fashion Week as a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology seven years ago, but it’s only been in the past two years that I’ve become really involved. The scene has really evolved over time. When I first started, I was one of the only artists backstage. Now there are a handful of illustrators at the shows.”

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So what do you hope to capture in your illustrations?

“It depends on the gig, really. One of the events I’m going to this week is a luncheon where I’ll be drawing full-figured sketches of the guests to give as gifts. But if I’m going to a show, I’m doing live-illustrations of the models as they walk down the runway.”

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Illustration by Meagan Morrison for Lucky Magazine

What are the biggest challenges of the job?

“Space is obviously a big issue, because when you’re at these shows you’re usually crammed into small spaces with editors, bloggers and fashion photographers, and I have to lug my supplies around with me everywhere. Time is another consideration; I only have a split second to catch the looks as the models walk the runway. The collections are so beautiful — way more beautiful in real-life than online— so I really want to capture the craftsmanship as best I can.”

After a crazy day at Fashion Week, where do you go to relax?

“The West Village bistro Barbuto is one of my favorite places to go for a glass of wine. It’s super convenient to Industria Superstudio (one of Fashion Week’s main venues), so it’s usually full of editors and bloggers. For nightlife, the best celebrity-spotting is at [Up&Down, ]()where the week’s kick-off party is typically thrown. And The Standard High Line is always a go-to for basically everything—restaurants, bars, and hotel rooms.”

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Illustrations by Meagan Morrison for Harper's Bazaar

How does New York Fashion Week compare to, say, the shows in Paris or Milan?

“New York is so much grungier and more ‘street.’ People get really dressed up to go to the shows in Paris and Milan. The experience in New York is much more centered on convenience. Tickets are digital, the subway system is easy to navigate and the venues are concentrated in one downtown location. In Paris, a bike courier delivers your invitation, so you need to be staying in a hotel with a 24-hour front desk to ensure that there’s someone there to receive it.”

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What about the venues?

“In New York, there’s a limit to how much customization you can do with the venues, but in Europe, the setting plays a much larger role. The Picasso Museum in Paris was used as the backdrop for Fashion Week one year, which was incredible.”

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Photo by Joel Cas

But NYC has some amazing events this year. What are you most looking forward to?

“I seek out shows and designers who are constantly reinventing themselves and pushing the envelope, so naturally, Marc Jacobs’ show is one that I look forward to every year. Last September, he did this incredible movie premiere-style runway show with popcorn, a glistening Marquee and Beth Ditto walking in a thigh-high slit gown. I can only imagine how he’ll close the season this year.”

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