To hear Charles Gross talk about fashion is to see the industry with rose-colored glasses. His passion and optimism are so apparent, and his excitement around attending his second season of NYFW is so palpable, it makes you want to go along for the ride. So, here’s the next best thing: an account of Gross’s day, on Sunday, February 13, when he attended the Sergio Hudson and Altuzarra shows.
How did your day start?
“The two shows I was confirmed for started at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively, but I got an early start to the day with emails and fitting my outfit details last minute, so I got up at 7 a.m.”
What did you have for breakfast?
“I have high anxiety and usually no appetite, especially when I have events. But I always remind myself to eat anyway. I had a large fruit salad, some apple cider donuts with jam, and a cup of hot water, which I have every morning and night.”
What are you wearing?
“At home, I always wear Frame stretch jersey flared pants and a T-shirt. But for the shows, my outfit was a Sergio Hudson maroon wool coat, a Ninety Percent turtleneck, Agnelle Gloves, a Bottega Veneta belt, a Totême hat, Frame skinny jeans, Port and Paire Boots, and an Hermès Birkin — my dream Madame Birkin, from the best of the best, Fashionphile.”
Did you plan your fashion week looks in advance?
“I plan them a week in advance, at the earliest — but often things are so last-minute, there isn’t much advance notice, anyway. But I also find that a little rushing gets my creativity flowing in a unique way and amplifies unique perspectives I may not have considered when choosing an outfit. If I plan too far in advance, I sometimes lean toward boring.”
Do you work with brands on your looks?
“[Rather than] choose to work with a stylist or use PR pulls or other means of sourcing outfits, I usually go the most impractical route. I buy all my looks. Mostly for sentimental reasons. Every facet of an outfit becomes linked to memories and experiences: the gloves I shook someone’s hand in, a coat I wore when I saw the most stunning gown, etc. It’s not reasonable, but I find it hard to let go of the pieces of an outfit, even if I probably won’t wear them in my daily life. Revisiting feelings in memories is one of my most powerful means of feeling emotions.”
How did you decide which shows to go to?
“I am incredibly cognisant of how lucky I am to be attending NYFW at all, in any capacity. More than just cognisant, I am deeply grateful. The incredible people I have the privilege to create content for are the reason I get to do any of this. They truly create these amazing opportunities, and their support and positivity are my motivations always. All of my gratitude goes to them.
So, I am very intentional in my decision-making and want to do my best by them. To have them by my side is an honor, and I choose shows that allow me to make the best [content] for my supporters on TikTok and Instagram. The fact that I am even in the position to choose shows to attend is beyond me, truly a dream. I want to make fresh, new perspectives. I feel that fashion-centric media can get repetitive and be a bit exclusionary. I want to break that down. Fashion is art and art is for everyone, no exceptions.”
Is this your second season attending NYFW?
“This is. Last year was my first big NYFW. It is always a thrill, and I never see myself getting apathetic to anything in fashion. If I’m 90 [years old] at a fashion show, I know I’ll have just as many butterflies as my first. That’s why I love it.”
How does it feel to be at these shows?
“At first arrival, I always see friends to catch up with and get to meet new people. I love that — the community is really kind. Then when the lighting changes, the chatter fades and the first look comes out, you almost feel suspended. It’s like everything around you is gone, and you are just there with the fashion. I like to look at every fold and pleat, every color and texture. It’s a high, underpinned by a feeling of really overwhelming gratitude and: “Is this real? I am really here?”
Who have you been most excited to meet?
“I have met so many people and truly have had not a single negative experience. So much welcoming and warmth. Meeting people I have admired for so long is really unreal.
At Altuzarra, I was told Anna Wintour was right around the corner from where I was standing, and I had to say something to her. Anna is such a powerful force. She and her work have had such an impact on my life since I was very young. I walked over, and we spoke very, very briefly. I’m still processing that it even happened. It was life-changing.”
What are you doing between the shows?
“Usually, the shows are so close together, I am in traffic. But otherwise, I take time to listen to guided meditations — at least 20 minutes — to manage my anxiety. Or I spend time with friends and new friends I meet.”
How were the shows?
“Sergio Hudson was amazing, so much vibrance and energy. And I was wearing a Sergio Hudson coat. It was a terrific vibe that really lifted me up. I had to literally run out of Spring Studios — a stunning space — to make it to Altuzzara. That show was calmer energy. But just as positive. Altuzarra showed terrific textures, while I was more aware of the silhouettes at Sergio Hudson.”