6 September 2021
Fashion.at’s Karin Sawetz remembers New York Fashion Week 20 years ago
Every time I read or hear 9/11, pictures from my mind pop up, pictures from Bryant Park with visitors and design label crew members of New York Fashion Week which was the reason for my travel from Vienna to New York City, images of people in the overcrowded bar of the Gramercy Park Hotel where many moved from the closer area around the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the hotel room itself which became my communication center with self-built connection to the internet and the place where I made my phone calls with the Austrian embassy about what’s planned for bringing citizens home as all flights were canceled and we hadn’t a new date for departure. Other pictures pop up such as of supermarkets where people gathered goods like water bottles in large amounts, military on the streets, jets in the air, friendly policemen, buildings where notes with the names of lost ones were applied outside in the hope to find them,…
I arrived in New York with a friend who assisted my NYFW reporting for Fashion.at. The magazine was a pioneer in Austria where online journalism including the technological challenge of providing videos over special video servers was once a profession which counted as business but without being registered as business-for-profit or without any obligation for being rated by the country’s Economic Chamber. Journalism was seen as a not-for-profit business (in the meaning that this profession shouldn’t work for maximizing the profit with all available means to prevent sensational journalism, fake news,…) and wasn’t rated – similar to the work of physicians or lawyers – by representatives of the Economic Chamber. Twenty years is a long time which has not only the administration in Austria changed, the freedom of the internet was impacted heavily by the observation measures after the terror attacks. The internet has lost many of the democracy, freedom features and with them the hopes into a fairer society.
The costs for the travel and stay were carried by Fashion.at. The magazine started very early with online advertising technologies for funding the journalistic work. The schedule for shows, interviews and meetings in New York was planned in Vienna. One of the meetings was held in the lobby of the Gramercy Park hotel the day before the attacks on 10th September. I stood and waited for Andrea with whom I had contact via email for several months concerning artists and designers from New York. Andrea worked in a gallery in Brooklyn and made the public relations for young creatives. Guests came and left the lobby. Andrea was late. Only one person kept the position. I asked “Are you Andrea?” “Yes. And you are Karin?” I was surprised and said, “I thought you were a girl.” Without intention I made for Andrea the best compliment “Oh, thank you.” It was the beginning of a very nice meeting on that day, one day before 9/11.
Images: Pictures from one of the video reports Fashion.at made in September 2001 in New York City.
Next (published soon): “We have a dilemma” said the man at around 8.45 to the people in the queue waiting for the first elevator to the observation platform of the Empire State building “Please leave the building.”