Fashion people doing their thing in New York. Photo via Flickr user Susan Sermoneta
Fashion Week brings together the beautiful, rich, and talented, along with moochers and lots of Europeans, to play dress-up on a big stage in cities like New York. It's easy to assume this crowd is a bunch of airheads who don't know shit about what's going on in the world. And for some of them—especially the male models—that is absolutely the case. But in interviewing folks at Fashion Week in NYC over the past few days, we found that most attendees had at least something interesting to say about the summer's big news stories—whether it was the police brutality (and subsequent protests) in Ferguson, Missouri, the killing of asthmatic father Eric Garner on Staten Island by police choke hold, or even the rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. We set out to do some trolling, but were repeatedly stymied by just how savvy these people were. Annoying, for sure, but also a bit encouraging about the state of the planet.
Photos by Jesse Miller-Gordon
Paul, Model, Manhattan
VICE: What do you make of what went down in Ferguson?
It's gone as you could've expected. There's one side arguing the kid was innocent, another side arguing the cop was innocent. Although I recently heard—heard, could be a bunch of shit on the internet—that the cop suffered a bunch of head injuries. I've heard stuff, heard his friends were there and they witnessed him not being aggressive in any way. I don't think we'll know until we actually know. It's hard to pass judgment until then because we're just talking.
Do we have a problem with police brutality in general in this country?
Yeah, obviously a lot of it's coming to light now. I think something should be done about it. It's definitely an issue. It happens. Now we're learning about it with more frequency.
Know anything about ISIS or the Islamic State?
You know I haven't been following that honestly too closely—I've heard about it—but the most recent news segment I saw on ISIS was about how good their videos are. So it's just like, what the fuck are we talking about?
Devore Irvin, freelance stylist, Bronx
Was the unrest in Ferguson justified?
I think it goes both ways. When you kill a kid, you're killing someone's child, and no parent should bury their child. I can understand that people are pissed off at these kind of things. But at some point you have to realize what you're protesting. You can't go too far or it defeats the purpose.
Do we have a police brutality problem in America?
Personally, I've never experienced it, but the evidence is there. It's not like you can fake a video. Clearly we do.
Is your experience unusual, do you think, or do most people not have these experiences with police overreach?
I think it depends on where you are. Out here, you won't get anything. But if you go to parts of Brooklyn, parts of the Bronx, parts of Queens, you'll definitely get that.
Is the Islamic State on your radar at all?
I mean, it's always been a sticky situation in the Middle East, because if we go in and we try and do too much they're going to push back. And if we leave, we're just leaving them unregulated. So what do you do?
Are most people at Fashion Week plugged into current affairs?
I think they are, but during Fashion Week, people go to 10 shows. They [get one invitation after another, and they] party, party, party. You just have to stay with your bubble. If you do too much you'll be worn out.
Shea Marie, editor, Hollywood
Have you followed Ferguson at all?
I know about it, but I don't speak politics or debate issues. I have my personal opinions, but I keep them to myself.
Why do you think we're hearing more about police brutality now?
The technology, for sure.
Any thoughts on ISIS (or the Islamic State)?
I'm terrified of ISIS. I've been reading up about it, trying to learn as much as I can. It scares me, and I think Americans should just stay out of there. I don't want them to send our ground troops in.
Sunny, student, Manhattan
Heard anything about the mess in Ferguson?
No, I actually haven't. I heard like a little bit about it, but what was the whole thing about?
Basically an unarmed black teenager got shot and people were pissed. Do we have a police brutality problem in America?
I definitely think so, and I support the whole, like, camera thing. If they don't have anything to hide, why not?
Have you heard anything about ISIS, or the Islamic State in the Middle East?
No, not really.
What do you make of the idea that the US would launch another war over there?
I think it's annoying, to be honest. I think we should figure out our problems first before we go over to other countries.
Krit, model, New York
What have you heard about Ferguson?
Honestly, like, I'm not too familiar with what's going on in Ferguson. I was a political science major in college, but I haven't really been following the news because I've been so busy with Fashion Week. I normally try to read the newspaper every single day, and I try to read different publications every single day, but I'm not too sure. I literally have not heard a single thing.
What have you heard about ISIS, or the Islamic State?
My best friend is Lebanese. He was there this summer, and I was worried about him being there.
How's the NYPD doing these days?
I think stop-and-frisk is absolutely ridiculous. There is a lot of police brutality, a lot of racism still existing—it's just undercover. I think it should stop.
Jordan, journalist, Upper West Side
What have you heard about Ferguson?
I feel like it got really, really intense and really extreme. It was completely wrong and definitely unnecessary, but I just can't believe how quickly it escalated, and the fact that it was international news. Really, really insane. I was on a yacht for two weeks. I get back to London, and everybody was talking about it. First of all, it's kind of, like, embarassing that that's what's being spread about us. The fact that it's even an issue is very, very intolerable. That's not what American culture is about.
Do we have a police-brutality problem in America?
I believe that obviously the idea of police is great, but in New York there's sometimes where it's just a complete powertrip—completely overstepping the boundaries of what is their call of duty. They have such a sense of power they feel like they can do whatever they want. It's so scary. I've seen cops go AWOL.
You heard of ISIS, or the Islamic State, and these beheadings of journalists?
That's been blowing up. In terms of killing journalists, that's nothing new—look at Egypt's revolution. I'm just proud to be a journalist and proud of those people covering it. I understand what goes behind getting the story and being a journalist and being in the trenches.