From the outside, it's just a group of white tents in a Manhattan square, wedged in on each side by a thick traffic jam of shiny black Lincoln Town Cars. Inside the marquees, it's an outpost of the New York fashion scene in all its glossy, ruthless, self-absorbed glory. Whether it was at the week of autumn shows in February or the spring collections in September, on stepping inside the first tent, the jetlagged British journalist would be confronted by at least three of the following: Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka, in a scarlet skirt suit; a row of fashion PRs with terror in their eyes and headsets clamped over shiny hair; perfectly tanned brown legs atop the inevitable tottering Manolos; the Vanity Fair editor, Graydon Carter, replete with gold cufflinks, striped shirt and tiny wife at his side, gliding through the melee; sunglasses, on everyone.
There not being much to see on the catwalk but boring, bland shift dresses – Marc Jacobs is the only New York designer with any global influence, and he doesn't even show in Bryant Park – the main pastime is celebrity spotting. On this score, Bryant Park overachieves; when you've seen J-Lo, Gwen Stefani and Winona Ryder before elevensies, it's hard to get excited about a mere Posh Spice sitting front-row. So, purists may wring their hands over a proposed designer migration from Seventh Avenue and the garment district to the Upper West Side. But the truth is that New York fashion week is peopled not by honest-to-God garment-makers but stars, Condé Nast lifers and wealthy patrons – and they're happy to travel wherever the Town Car takes them.