Student fashionista fits right in at Fashion Week

“Excuse me, may I please take your picture?” I stared unresponsively at the camera-holding, 20-something man, my borrowed Marc by Marc Jacobs bag dangling pathetically at my side, before my brain slowly realized that yes, he was speaking to me.

I was at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City, on holiday from Geneseo for the weekend.

With the growth of social media and blogging, the world of the fashion elite is becoming more and more accessible, and formerly exclusive events such as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week are growing increasingly easy to visit every season. With this in mind, hundreds of aspiring designers, photographers and journalists make their way to Lincoln Center every September and February, hoping for a big break.

The best part is that every year, these dreams come true for some people. While I was standing in line for a Marcia Ganem fashion show, a designer saw the girl behind me and asked her to model in his show that night.

Photographers handed out business cards and stocked their portfolios. Aspiring journalists picked up followers by writing about their experiences on the Internet, and dozens of bloggers were invited to couture shows - as long as they promised to promote the fashion line.

I, standing on the outskirts, business card and invitation free, should have been a mere bystander to the exchange happening before me, but the inclusiveness is unimaginable; if you are well dressed - the definition of which is incredibly broad - and at fashion week, you are welcome.

Models smile at you as they walk to lunch, and photographers take candid pictures of girls sipping coffee or men with interesting hairdos. For a week, anyone can feel like a celebrity, regardless of wealth, age or actual relevance to the fashion community. Interest is enough, but a unique dress or four-inch heels won’t hurt.

Even me, a completely irrelevant girl from a small upstate town, wearing a $20 dress and an overenthusiastic smile, was photographed and invited to an after-party.

It was an exhilarating taste of the upscale life, eating rose and marzipan-flavored gelato and counting Jimmy Choos as they paraded down the street. While I was not invited to the main event - I’m sure Zac Posen lost my invitation in the mail—it was incredible to be surrounded with such ambitious people, all with similar dreams and interests.

Karl Lagerfeld, the head designer of Chanel, once said, “What I love best in life is new starts.” As far as “starts” go, fashion week is an excellent example: start of a new season, new inspiration and new experiences. And now I’ve experienced firsthand that those beginnings can belong to anyone with a unique perspective, Wi-Fi and the perfect pair of shoes.