Like many women, I’ve had a somewhat turbulent relationship with my self-image. Thanks to a particularly nasty bout with eczema when I was younger and constant weight fluctuations, it was difficult to feel comfortable — much less confident — in my own skin. Age helped me navigate those treacherous waters, but fashion was mostly what kept me afloat. Despite how I felt about my body, I always found ways to have fun with how I dressed.
This morning Chloe sat by her bowl, looked over at me and gave out a loud meow. I looked at her and said, “Is that really necessary? You just watched me mix your food and I am now walking towards you with bowl in hand.”
Yes, I talk to my cat. And she talks to me. Chloe has a series of meows for the different things she needs. She has a special meow for when she wants to get under the blanket and needs me to fluff it juuuuust so. There’s a special meow for when she wants to be rubbed. There’s a special meow when she doesn’t want to be rubbed. And there’s a special meow that specifically says “I know there’s food in my bowl but I find it unsatisfactory and would like you to replace it”. I think that’s what comes from spending 16 years together.
Four years and twenty-six days ago, I lost my cat Felix. Everyone thinks their cat is special, but calling Felix “special” would be doing him a huge disservice. He was uncannily shrewd. He figured out how to open doors and drawers. He manipulated timed feeders into futility. And he orchestrated cover-ups: he’d once gained access to a large bag of food in the pantry, but continued to pretend he was hungry at feeding times so we wouldn’t get suspicious. Felix gave me fourteen years of laughter, frustration, pride, annoyance, and lots and lots of love.
I’ve never shied away from the “cat lady” moniker, but it turns out maybe I should have. The term is often used in a derisive manner, with images of unattractive women destined for eternal singlehood attached. So Fresh Step set out to dispel the negative connotations with its first ever Fresh Step Feline Fashion Lounge and Adoption Event during New York Fashion Week. In a space located just off the High Line, Fresh Step and actress Katie Cassidy (of Arrow, Gossip Girl and Melrose Place fame) played host to a Hot to Adopt event, where models walked the runway in fabulous fashions and the hottest accessory in town: a cat.
Most kids remember getting up early to watch Saturday Morning Cartoons while they noshed on their breakfast cereal of choice, but I remember eagerly anticipating Sunday mornings at 10 am, which is when Fashion File would come on in Malaysia. I’d plop myself in front of the TV and watch as models strutted the runway in Versace, Lacroix and Gaultier. To say the industry has evolved since then is quite the understatement! Fashion has become more accessible than ever, and now addicts like myself can easily live stream runway shows, refresh social media feeds, or check blogs that are being updated every few minutes during major events like New York Fashion Week.
Designers have already had to increase the number of shows and reduce their production cycles to keep up with fast fashion retailers, but this year designers have kicked it up several notches, with “see now, buy now” being the catchphrase. While most New York Fashion Week events are still not open to the public, this direct-to-consumer approach has reverberated throughout. There has been a move to be more inclusive: retailers, beauty brands and even hotel chains are getting in on the action and hosting fun New York Fashion Week events that anyone can attend.