How to Survive Fashion Week by a Refugee Journalist from Darfur

NEW YORK — I have been told that “making it through” fashion week is a very difficult business. This is my first year in attendance, as I have only recently relocated to the United States after spending the past two years as a refugee journalist based in Khartoum. As I am told is customary for New York Fashion Week, I have gathered some “survival tips” from the many models, celebrity stylists, and socialites with whom I have spoken. All of them expressed to me how they find New York Fashion Week “quite an ordeal” and “very difficult to get through.” Many of them have helpful hints as to how they manage to survive a full seven days of racing among dozens of shows and attending hundreds of after-parties.

F.I.N.E., a young design collective from San Francisco, informed me that they “absolutely couldn’t make it out of here alive” without the following items: small packets of almonds “because there is simply never enough time,” band-aids “for when your Louboutins are seriously killing you,” and dry shampoo “because the absolute worst thing you can do is run around the most glamorous week of the year with greasy roots.”

I have also considered the impossibility of making it out of my own difficulties alive. These designers’ statements reminded me of when the Janjaweed surrounded my village and burned all of the houses. My mother woke my siblings and me and we fled into the streets. It seemed as though the entire town was enveloped in a single burning flame. There was nothing but chaos. Those who did not die of fire were slashed with machetes. I’m sorry. This is probably irrelevant.

Several fashion editors told me that “tiny Altoid mints” or “those toothbrush wisps” were “absolute basic necessities” as they did not wish for their breath to offend any of the individuals with whom they engaged in conversation about the quality of thirty-thousand-dollar dresses. Cassie Nokia, a self-described musician/actress, insisted that she “would look like an absolute corpse without a de-puffing eye roller and some of those oil blotting sheets.”

This statement also reminded me of my past. After being separated from my family, I spent several days in a tree, waiting for a lull in the night so I might escape. From my viewpoint behind the leaves, the soldiers could not see me, but I could see their evil actions and the many corpses scattered below. It is my opinion that Ms. Nokia is being too hard on herself and that her comparison was unfair. She is a beautiful girl and would in no way resemble the many dead I have witnessed. However, it is accurate that her pores could have used some minimizing serum.