Think Fashion is over now that Fashion Week is done? Not by a long shot! Fashion events continue non-stop, all year long in New York City. But even though Lincoln Center is now synonymous with Fashion Week, when I think of sponsors, and the work they do to bring fashion excitement to the public, I iimmediately think of American Express, and Mercedes Benz. For the past couple of years, American Express has created exclusive events for card members both inside the tents, and surrounding the excitement of Fashion Week and Fashion in NYC. For example, last Fall, American Express offered it’s ZYNC Cardmembers exclusive access to Lucky Shops with it’s own ZYNC boutique, and more. But the main event, twice a year in New York CIty, is Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. By now, fashion-savvy American Express card members literally pounce on the offerings from American Express as soon as tickets go on sale, because they know that they will gain access to exclusive fashion shows, behind-the-scenes packages, and access to the now-famous, American Express Skybox.
The American Express Skybox Is a Room With A View: The Skybox is a unique experience. It’s a luxurious lounge high atop the Lincoln Center Tents, with exclusive access, for-a-fee. American Express cardmembers can purchase tickets for one show, or a lot of them. The American Express Skybox offers much more than just a place to observe models strutting down a runway. Fashion-oriented consumers are also more interested than ever in the process of fashion, how things are made, what inspires designers, and learning what is going to be hot for the season, before anyone else does. So American Express also brings special guests into the Skybox between shows to enhance the fashion experience in a more intimate and personal way. For example, when I visited for the Milly show this past season (Fall 2011), Teen Vogue’s Beauty Editor, Eva Chen was the guest. Since I’m a beauty expert, this was as much a treat for me, as for the excited guests in the Skybox. Evan talked about her experiences with backstage beauty, the latest trends for Spring, and answered questions about products, and her personal favorites. This is about the most intimate, up-close-and-personal access to major fashion and beauty industry people you can get, even for a seasoned reporter like me.
A Unique, Fashion Week Experience: For the trade. Fashion Week is not entertainment. Show-goers are “vetted” and there to work. What American Express offers cardmembers is not the experience of the average industry guest– it is much, much nicer. Fashoinistas get a birds-eye view of the action from above, in a controlled way that doesn’t intrude on those who are there to work. Downstairs on the runway level, people in the industry wait in long lines to be herded into seats or worse, into standing. Most are dealing with aching feet and bodies, battling fatigue, hunger and dehydration, while lugging all their belongings from show to show. American Express cardmembers in the Skybox can choose a comfy couch on which to sip champagne or other alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages. And snacks are offered throughout the day and evening, in case hunger strikes. But the big bonus are the large picture windows overlooking the runways. These are lined with long benches giving each guest a birds-eye view of the action.
Another big benefit to being a guest in the Skybox is the charming and experienced Skybox Host Kate Nobelius. She really knows who is sitting in the front row, and she shares tidbits from her considerable experience in fashion, with Skybox guests. She also interviews the special celebrity guests in the Skybox between shows, and does a superb job of knowing what to ask, and what people want to learn about.
Down below, on the runway level, show-goers are only vaguely aware that there are people in party dresses in the American Express Skybox, sipping champagne and nibbling snacks, getting a great view of the runway shows on comfy couches. Show-goers below can’t even see the Skybox when the runway is active. Flash photography isn’t allowed during the shows and the Skybox lights are shut off at show time .
The American Express Skybox Is a Coveted Ticket! What makes the American Express Skybox such a coveted ticket? The media has a lot to do with the continuing fashion frenzy and the (mistaken) perception that fashion is always glamorous. Sex and the City, America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway and even reality TV shows like Gossip Girl and Bravo’s The Real Housewives, have introduced the concept of fashion show as entertainment (a place to see, and be seen) into homes around the world. While the reality of Fashion Week is not what’s shown on TV, consumers crave wha6t they perceive to be the “real” experience, and just want to be part of a “glamorous” event. American Express offers cardmembers a chance to do just that, through special Fashion events and the American Express Skybox.
Who Typically Buys Tickets to the American Express Skybox? I’d like to say there is a “type” that finds the American Express fashion offerings, enticing, but there really isn’t one. Men and women of all ages come dressed to the nines, come to have a good time and a unique experience. Every time I’ve visited the Skybox and chatted with guests,however, there seems to be a few people celebrating a special birthday or anniversary, and there’s always at least one, wide-eyed young fashionista, dreaming of a career in the fashion business, there with a generous mom or dad who has made it a dream-come-true to attend a fashion show during fashion week. At the Milly show I attended, there was a doting dad and Alexa, his (already fashion-forward). And a group of very fashion-savvy and intelligent women from Texas were taking the entire experience very seriously.
American Express Fashion is More than Just the Skybox: Although I wasn’t able to attend it this past season, American Express offers more than just the Skybox. They offered card members an exclusive Fashion Show at Lincoln Center: The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund (CVFF) Card member Only Show kicking off the week on Thursday 2/10 at 8PM in the Theatre. The runway mash-up included 60 looks from the likes of Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung, Joseph Altuzarra, Derek Lam and many more! It’s was first-ever show of its kind; a highlight of the week for anyone fortunate enough to attend. American Express has been an active supporter of The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) with their support of emerging designers in the industry with a $250,000 donation to the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund (CVFF). All proceeds from the sale of Skybox packages also go towards the American Express donation. And if you are a card member wishing to check out something other than what’s going on in the tents, American Express expanded it’s fashion offerings outside of the tents, as well, with exclusive Cardmember packages at another big fashion venue: MAC and Milk.
The Skybox is a Great Value! You can expect to be pampered as a Skybox guest. You’ll be met at the American Express desk in the lobby of the main tent, and escorted past the guards and the waiting crowds, right up to a private stairway leading to the Skybox. You can get access to the Skybox with a two-show ticket, starting at $250 per person. There are also a few special packages with a pricetag in past seasons of $700 that buys high-level (gold and platinum) card members a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go behind-the-scenes at the fashion shows and also have their hair and makeup done alongside the models. Tickets to the American Express special CFDA Fashion Show at Lincoln Center run $50-$150.
As a member of the press, I still have to pay over $80.00 just for lobby access, and then apply to be invited to the shows I want to see. If I don’t get invited, I don’t see the show. But American Express card members can use the for-a-fee Skybox and get access to all the shows they want. They will never be stuck on standing room lines, or get seated behind someone so tall they can’t see anything at all, or have to deal with a “fashionista” wearing a silly hat that obscures their view. And, there are more benefits to paying for your Skybox ticket. Depending upon the show and the package, card members get mementos (e.g. photos taken by a professional photographer) and a sponsor gift bag. All members of the press used to get these coveted, status-y, re-useable, tote bags, chock-full of useful and fashion-oriented items, but only a few people get them now, even though the press badge costs $80.00. So there’s a big bonus in being an American Express card member attending fashion week. In the past, card members at some shows also got fashion gifts and discounts selected specifically for them by a specific designer. Those who sign up for the Platinum Packages get behind-the-scenes tours, personal make-overs and fashion advice, and more!
What To Do If You Want Tickets to Next Season’s American Express Fashion Week Offerings: Packges to the Skybox, including premium access packages to the Skybox for Platinum Card® and Gold Card members, will be available once again, at http://www.ticketmaster.com/americanexpress If you’re an AMEX card member and want to go, keep an eye on the American Express web site. Last week, all the Fashion Week tickets sold out literally, within minutes!
But Wait! There’s More! If you aren’t a card member (although you should be), or the tickets you wanted were sold out before you could plunk down your AmEx card, there is still some compensation: You could still get access to some of the fashion action with something new this season, the American Express® Skybox Report. This online site provided streaming video and access to up-to-the-minute fashion news throughout Fashion Week, and beyond. Features of the Skybox Report included video clips of designers, stylists and other notables; interviews with fashionable celebrities; slideshows of some of the best Skybox looks; a glimpse behind the scenes at some of New York’s hottest boutiques, and much more. Plus, the report featured daily Twitter contests (by following @americanexpress on Twitter and using hashtag #amexfashion) that anyone could enter to get access to the Skybox to experience a variety of the week’s best offerings.
To learn more about American Express’ special access to the world of fashion and other exciting entertainment offers, follow @AmericanExpress on Twitter, become a fan of American Express on Facebook and visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment
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