New York Fashion Week is never not hectic. The packed schedule of shows, appointments, and parties is something curator and critic Kimberly Drew is keenly familiar with. Known in the art world for her work highlighting and uplifting artists of color, Drew is also a writer who regularly contributes to top-tier publications, and the author of two books. An in-demand model to boot, the multi-hyphenate often sits front row at some of the biggest runways in the industry. Art and fashion have always gone hand in hand,” she says of her life straddling two worlds. “I feel lucky that I get to be a member of both communities.”
As a fashion insider, Drew has figured out how to not just survive but thrive during this marathon week. Her formula for success starts with a strong outfit, like her head-to-toe Kate Spade look, moments of self-care (yes, even on the go!), and leaning into moments of spontaneity. ELLE caught up with Drew to get her tips and tricks for staying—and looking—cool during fashion week.
Suit Up With Power Prints
Instead of agonizing over what to wear, Drew is decisive about her look and hits the ground running: “There’s nothing like a bold print to get you up, out of bed, and on your way,” she says—and Kate Spade is the perfect fit. For her jam-packed day, she went with green plaid trousers and a matching blazer with a navy and pink cardigan layered underneath for contrast. The combination rings true to Drew’s duality as both a fashion and art world insider. “It felt like executive realness and just something really chic in honor of fashion week,” says Drew. “This outfit definitely satisfies both sides of my life!”
Rely on Your Teammates
The best part of fashion week? For Drew, it’s bumping into industry friends, like ELLE senior market editor Sarah Zendejas, and taking time to catch up. Sharing a quick meal filled with laughter is a welcome break in the day and offers a chance to recharge. “I love everything from a serendipitous hello to a long dinner with a friend you haven’t seen all summer,” she says. “It really makes the week quite delicious.”
Hydrate and Repeat
Any basic survival strategies center around two things: food and water. Stopping off for a meal and a quick catchup session with friends might take care of the food part, but when it comes to water intake, Drew is serious about its impact on her day. “Three quick rules for fashion week: hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate some more,” she says. To ensure she’s never parched, Drew carries around a water bottle and makes it a point to take sips throughout her day.
Stay On Your Toes
With a show schedule that can take Drew anywhere from SoHo to the Upper East Side to Brooklyn, all within the span of an afternoon, the easiest way around is never by car. “I love a yellow cab in theory, but it’s not going to get you there on time,” she says. “Take it from a Bed-Stuy gal, don’t underestimate the subway.” And although Drew likes to have enough wiggle room in her schedule so she’s never in a rush, she knows that she can never fully predict life (or New York City transit). Thus, stylish flats are a key part of the look, so she can run down the stairs or chase down a train just before the doors close. “My schedule and my footwear are in cahoots, always,” she adds.
Attending shows and events is a part of Drew’s job that she takes seriously, but it doesn’t mean the entire day is all business and no fun. “Finding moments for silliness and playfulness is the most powerful aspect of what it means to not only be creative, but stay creative,” she says. “It’s a non-negotiable for me.” A quick little dance and photo break with street style photographer Tyler Joe and Oscar Nñ, founder of Papi Juice, is a great way for her to stretch her limbs and release any tension from running around all afternoon. After Joe gets his shots, Drew is off to finish her day—with a big smile on her face and a cute outfit, of course.
Photographer: Tyler Joe; cinematographer: Steven Mastorelli; hair and makeup: Allie J; stylist: Sachiko Clyde; creative producer and director: Hannah Miller; production manager: Anne Ritz