Ask any circus act, any magician, or D.J. Tanner’s ex-boyfriend Steve and they will confirm that juggling — like coal mining — is tough. Sure, once you’ve got the hang of the maniac tosses the trade becomes easier, but in those preliminary days, all you’ve got on your side is perseverance.
When considering the work/life balance — The Sandbergian Juggle, if you will — the same rules apply. During fashion week, mastering the art of maintaining a double life proves especially troubling for us freaks you see running through the west side in high, highs heels. And with still another two weeks to go — Milan, then Paris — there’s no time like right now to talk unplugging, recharging and a glass of Manischewitz.
Leandra finds solace in her family’s Jewish traditions. This year she dropped the mic before Fashion Week even started to observe the Jewish new year. She likens herself to “a shtetl raised Cinderella,” whereupon every Friday when the sun dips, her heels come off, and almost as if by magic, a pair of thick white socks find her feet. Or she removes her pants.
The fashion terminology has a hard time escaping her even in the comfort of her own pants-optional home. But “this chicken is everything” just doesn’t roll off the tongue the way “everything” does when referring to silk faille.
“Basically,” Leandra’s eyebrows texted me, “I’m trying to find a balance between when to say ‘Baruch’ and when to say ‘bonkers.’”
“Never say ‘bonkers,’” I replied.
Charlotte was still in school last fashion week so her dichotomy was between work and…more work. A bit like Hannah Montana, she alternated between classroom and show venues. She missed her second college math class and forgot to register herself on campus — the equivalent of Montana forgetting her highly indecipherable-as-Miley blonde wig for a performance — in favor of fashion week butt-cramps.
This season is slightly different for her as a college graduate. “Now the closest thing to leading a double life is that I live in Brooklyn and spend a lot of time sleeping.” At least she gets to take her fashion accent off.
And as for me? One time, last February, my dad picked me up from a show at Lincoln Center. I asked him if he could meet me around the corner by the less popular side-entrance, as if I were an embarrassed child too cool for her parents.
“I don’t want anyone to see me!” I texted him.
“Sorry…” he wrote back. “On Columbus Ave already. Found parking!!!” Thumbs up emoji.
There he was — double parked in our SUV, sitting behind the long row of black town cars waiting to collect various editors.
Maybe, I thought to myself, If I just keep my head down and my sunglasses on I’ll make it out of here unscathed. And then I heard it.
Shit. It was my old boss. “What show are you headed to,” she asked. “Want to get a drink?”
“I can’t,” I replied. “I uh…my dad. My dad is picking me up.”
I pointed to my dad, now standing outside of the vehicle like this was the pick up lane in front of my elementary school. (DAD GET BACK IN THE CAR)
“He’s taking me to my riding lesson,” I explained. “Need a lift anywhere?”
She declined, obviously, and I drove off with my dad. We made an illegal U-turn somewhere in the streets by 50th and sped through the Upper West Side. An hour later and I was quite literally back on my horse. So douchey, right?
But my point is that balance is important and as our moms always told us, everything —even FASHION — is only good in moderation. So if that requires a brief interlude for kosher meat, a crash course in art history, a deep slumber across the bridge or even the more affected option — a horse, than go for gold (especially re said horse.)
Do you juggle? When? Tell us. We have to know.
-Edited by Leandra Medine
Image: Irving Penn for Vogue Magazine