For most of us, the closest we’ll come to New York Fashion Week is on our cell phone screens. We scroll through pages of high-fashion photoshoots, celebrity guests and parties bedecked with goody bags, entranced by the glamour, but perhaps a bit stunted as to what goes on behind all those flashing lights. Lucky for us, Baton Rouge has leant out a few of its most photogenic residents to the streets of New York in the past few years, including Sarah Jane Nader, the 19-year-old University High graduate and Fordham University student who signed with Ford Models this summer, following in the footsteps of her sister and fellow model Brooks Nader.
“I had done fashion-y things with my sister before, but I’d never experienced fashion week until this year,” says Nader, who attended several runway shows and designer-sponsored parties in the five days between September 8 and September 12.
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Nader says that the past week of attending events with Brooks, whose own modeling stints have ranged from appearing in the pages of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue to being one of the faces of Cover Girl, was a whirlwind of activity.
“My sister gets invited by brands, and they’ll dress you and invite you to the shows, where the crowd will be a mix of models, influencers, designers—everyone there is part of this industry, which is cool,” says Nader. “Anyone you talk to could be someone you could network with and potentially work with one day.”
Still, getting to the events themselves takes a bit of getting used to.
“People warned me that the week would be really crazy, and I thought they were being dramatic, but it actually really was,” she says. “There are multiple shows going on at one time, so you have to pick the ones you want to go to, and we definitely had a few changing-in-the-car moments.”
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Since the point, after all, is to showcase the garments and accessories created by some of the world’s foremost designers, being photographed wearing their designs is all part of the marketing scheme, and an important part of staying relevant in the fashion game.
“We went to a few shows, but I think PatBO’s was my favorite,” says Nader. “It was just a really cool setup with all this greenery, and I knew some of the people who worked to set it all up, so it was impressive to see their hard work pay off to transform this empty office building into a beautiful runway.”
Other highlights of the week for Nader include a show by designer Cynthia Rowley, along with events hosted by Alice + Olivia, Revolve, Charlotte Tilbury and Saks Fifth Avenue (where Paris Hilton served as DJ). Meanwhile, fashion fans are already seeing Nader’s own modeling work in ad campaigns such as one for the brand Laws of Motion that landed her a large-scale feature on the side of a New York building.
“It’s definitely a business, but there’s also just so much freedom for the designers and everyone involved,” she says. “Fashion is an art form, but it can also be activism—just look at some of the Met Gala looks this year. It’s about more than just the clothes you’re wearing.”
To learn more about Nader and keep track of her modeling journey in NYC, follow her on Instagram @sarahjanenader.