The jet-lag haze has just about lifted since my return from New York, where I’ve been living in a parallel universe since last Thursday evening. On tour for NYFW from the Emerald Isle were the ‘Four non-Blondes’ – namely Aoife Murtagh from Maybelline (NYFW main sponsor), Jen Stevens form U magazine, Karen Koster from TV3, et moi from IMAGE. By the end of the trip we had renamed our group the Futon Fatties but more of that anon! Chaos, craic and calamities prevailed from the moment we arrived at the Empire Hotel, when we discovered E! News was in situ. Karen nearly had kittens when she heard Giuliana Rancic was filming on the rooftop terrace and Aoife, quick as a hare, used her charm on the hotel PR to gain permission for us to film on the other side of the same roof for the day where Karen worked and we played Fashion Police.
After a rubbish Advil-induced afternoon sleep, we arrived at the L’Oréal/Maybelline Research institute in New Jersey the following morning for a rare glimpse behind the scenes of the world’s biggest cosmetic company. Think the make-up lover’s equivalent of being let loose in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and you’ll get the picture: we gawped and giggled our way through various make-up labs and learnt how mascara, lipstick, foundation, nail polish and powders are made, tested and tweaked. As a once wannabe chemist, I was in my element and drove all the scientists demented with relentless questions about pigments and polymers and had a bash at making my own lippy and blush, much to their amusement. We also managed to contaminate an entire wall of Maybelline mascaras by getting so excited at the sight of them we stuck our grubby hands in before they could even utter, “please don’t touch the wands!”.
Once back on Manhattan soil we hit up Lombardi’s, the oldest pizza parlor in NYC (so un-fashion dahling!) for the first of many carb and lipid-laden meals we’d enjoy and then have collective group guilt over afterwards. Here I realised I’d left my iPhone in the taxi and went into meltdown mode. Cue an evening of frantic phone calls to car companies and mails to PRs trying to track down our driver. By midnight my phone had been found and lost two more times and eventually came back to me the following morning just in the nick of time, as we were headed backstage at the Lincoln Centre, where the first of many NYFW shows was about to start.
Backstage at any fashion week is a hotbed of madness, but New York and the Americans take it to the next level of crazy. Everyone from the hair and make-up teams, to the nail artists and models are “super psyched” about the shows, the clothes, the make-up, the shoes and even the bottled water! Even though all parties involved are running on empty and well behind schedule, I didn’t encounter a single grouch, and the overriding vibe was simply electric, despite the power crashing every five minutes from too much surging from the hairdryers.
We spent the next few days pushing our way through queues of neoprene-clad fashionistas outside the Lincoln Centre (thank God for press passes!), getting in the way backstage trying to establish exactly what lip colour the Maybelline teams were using, and trying to hail down taxis to bolt downtown to the other fashion week location at the High Line Hotel. I swore we passed the same Maybelline billboard on 9th Avenue about 30 times. In between shows we feverishly e-mailed, Tweeted, Instagramed, Facebooked, guzzled countless skinny lattes and all had to buy emergency flip-flops, so bad was the stiletto burn.
Over the course of NYFW, I spotted more supermodels and celebrities than you could shake a Louboutin at, from Jessica Alba to Christina Ricci, Rachel Zoe to Louise Roe – they’re all gorgeous, and all teeny tiny, but the highlight hands-down was Beckhamgate. It was Sunday evening and I was coming out of one of the penthouse suites in Trump Soho, where I’d been interviewing Charlotte Willer, Maybelline’s leading make-up artist. I was cursing the Wi-Fi on my phone as I entered the lift and there was David Beckham, Harper, her nanny. I’m not sure what came over me, but I just started chatting to him about Victoria’s show that morning, how Harper was just like my little boy, obsessed with the lift buttons and iPhones, and we had the banter for 50 floors. Then he held the lift doors open, said farewell and off they went. It was only then that I realised the enormity of the moment and pretty much had a full-on anxiety attack in the bar afterwards. Karen, Jen and Aoife also went into One Direction-stalker mode, once I told them my spot and went pursuing ‘Goldenballs’ around the hotel. He is devastatingly handsome, an endearing dad, but surprisingly small, slim and narrow-shouldered (I’m actually broader than him) and Harper is the cutest toddler in the world, bar mine of course.
We decompressed at Toa afterwards for another monstrous meal and then hot–footed it to another high-octane fashion party on the roof of The Empire afterwards. By the time we went to bed we had the entire ensemble of NYFW drinking shots of Baileys and baby-Guinness’s.
Before we jetted home, we had to squeeze in a few hours shopping in Soho and melted the plastic in Bloomies, Jonathan Adler, Tibi and of course Duane Reade. With only ten minutes to takeoff, we made it to JFK with so many bags we had needed two jeep taxis to get there. The ground staff weren’t impressed, but a lot of begging later and we made it on to the plane back home to Dublin in one piece.
Beauty Editor, Liz Dwyer @BeautyBootCamp1