Vanity Insanity at Miami Fashion Week

By Sharon Geltner

All the beautiful people show up for Miami Fashion Week, which kicked off this past Wednesday night at Saks at Brickell City Centre. The champagne was endless and so were the photos. We shot pictures of our friends, of local celebrities, of each other, and most of all, ourselves. We flocked to the step-and-repeat set up, official videographers and of course, the selfies on our own phones.

It’s possible there were more phones than people, but all the vanity insanity was warranted. These fans of fashion were not your average crowd. Most of the women looked like models, but better, because they were lush, lovely and excited to be there. They did not suffer from the professionals’ gaunt, starved, bored zombie look.

And many of the men were imaginative and sartorial, with colorful cheetah print blazers and unusual loafers. However, when I asked them about their “Palm Beach look,” I got blank stares.

For me, it all started early when I introduced myself to the manager at Saks, Mariia Sergeieva. With one look, she ordered me, “Go downstairs for a touch up.”

L – R: Hope Peniasian, Sharon Geltner, Noel Valentine. Peniasian and Valentine are beauty advisors for Tom Ford at Saks at Brickell City Center in Miami.

Thanks for the put down. I had just spent an hour in the heat shooting photos and probably had sweated off most of my makeup. But what I was about to learn was what Mariia was doing me a favor. I really needed a “Miami Makeover.”

At Tom Ford, I found cosmetics experts Noel Valentine and Hope Peniasian.  He looked like Prince, she looked like Leah Rimini. Except both were younger and had much better eyelashes.

These “beauty advisers” subtly helped me to understand my fashion faux pas.  I had dressed for an afternoon around the pool in Palm Beach, or maybe Happy Hour in a terrace bar downtown; in a blue-and-white striped cotton Talbot’s dress. Very Pollyanna. Not city sophisticated.  As for my makeup, I was trying for the “natural look.”  Which doesn’t exist in real life, but still…

As Valentine precisely lined my eyes with black ink, above AND below, he said:  “This is an evening event.”

He contoured my face with blush.  Then he applied matching coral lipstick in the ominous, or hopeful (?) shade of: “A Twist of Fate.”

Once I did my hair, from the neck up, I was good to go. From the neck down, well, everyone else was decked out in bright red, chartreuse, black lace, gold sequins and all kinds of cool, vivid, dress-up clothes.

The Saks party had the vibe of a lot of people, just starting out in life, expecting to be discovered. Soon.

Like those gorgeous waiters in Los Angeles and New York, scraping by but always auditioning.  This crowd looked camera ready for casting calls and close-ups. The women theatrically posed for photos, in stilettos; arching their backs and fluffing their hair and publicly primping before mirrors.

Add to the mix several television hosts interviewing anyone from musicians to realtors. A chef walked up to me and said he’d cooked a meal worth $1.7 million, showing me a photo of food served in shot glasses “made of diamonds and gold.”

There was an air of optimism and expectancy, fueled by Facebook and Instagram, that must far exceed the fantasies of being discovered back when Lana Turner was at Schwab’s Drugstore.

Today, no one need suffer in anonymity as they strive for the Big Time. They can star in their own social media, every wardrobe choice and costume change flatteringly portrayed and filtered.

And while fame may or may not arrive and dreams may or may not come true, everyone here looked more and more fabulous with every post they put online.

How will that turn out for us?

It’s all a “Twist of Fate.”

Sharon Geltner is a South Florida author and journalist whose highly-praised fiction novel, “Charity Bashed’’ reveals the hidden and funny underside of Palm Beach society.  The novel can be obtained in independently-owned Palm Beach County book stores and through Amazon.com.



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