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New York Fashion Week
Yesterday marked the beginning of Fashion Week, the biannual showcase of American design talent that takes over Lincoln Center and the Meatpacking District's Milk Studios each February and September.

Fashion industry heavyweights showcasing their offerings for Fall/Winter 2012 include both established brands such as Michael Kors and Diane von Furstenburg and cult favorites Y-3 and Richard Chai.

Fashion Week transforms the Upper West Side performing arts mecca into a maze of runways where street style photographers and magazine editors rush between shows. The event wraps up on Feb. 16 before subsequent Fashion Weeks in London, Milan, and Paris. Until then, take the 1 train to 66th Street and be on the lookout for top models like Erin Wasson, “It Girls” like Harley Viera-Newton, and fashion luminaries like Anna Wintour.

Although celebrity sightings alone may be exciting, enterprising students can take advantage of Fashion Week events in a number of ways. American Express card members can purchase tickets to a Lincoln Center Skybox at $150 for one show or $250 for two. Many designers including up-and-comer Jason Wu, whose collaboration with Target recently debuted nationwide, are streaming their shows live on their own websites and through social media like Facebook. And the more daring can always attempt to sneak their way past security and enjoy the shows free of charge.

In addition to the fashion shows themselves, New York Fashion Week also includes shopping and cultural events around the city. Stylish British import Topshop is featuring nightly DJ sets, makeovers, and nail art at their SoHo location. Photographer Juergen Teller, known for his provocative advertisements for powerhouse designer Marc Jacobs, is opening a three-part show at Chelsea's Lehmann Maupin Gallery.

Whether for shopping, people watching, or the excitement of living in one of the fashion world's epicenters, New York Fashion Week is a unique opportunity to take advantage of events across the city.

Ecstatic Music Festival
While many are now familiar with the popular, bizarrely-named music festivals Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo, New York offers music enthusiasts a unique and innovative festival experience in the Ecstatic Music Festival over the next two months.

Beginning this Saturday, Feb. 4, the 11 different collaborative shows of Ecstatic bring together about 150 performers and composers from different musical genres.

Brooklyn-based composer and codirector of New Amsterdam Records Judd Greenstein returns as the festival's curator for a second time, working with media partners WQXR and Q2 Music, to offer concert broadcasts and artist interviews to Internet listeners throughout the course of the festival.

“I look for people for whom this will benefit their careers in a way that isn't monetary. It's more like giving them the opportunity to pursue something that's interesting to them and gives them the space to try something new,” Greenstein said of choosing the festival's lineup.

The festival began Saturday with a performance by Jherek Bischoff, joined by the Talking Heads' David Byrne, Shudder to Think's Craig Wedren, Deerhoof's Greg Saunier, Mirah, and Parenthetical Girls' Zac Pennington.

“It was a really intense show for me. Sharing the stage with freakin' David Byrne alone made me freak out, and then presenting myself for the first time and being in New York to a sold-out crowd with camera and film crews everywhere,” Bischoff said. “But at the show I felt this feeling like ‘Oh, I belong here. This is me, there's no reason to be nervous ... this is finally me, but it's me through all of these wonderful people.”

The aim in the festival's collaborations is to encourage creative exchange and experimentation between the musicians, offering them an outlet to try something that may ordinarily be outside of their area of experience. According to Greenstein, one particularly successful collaboration was that between Tuesday night's performers Sxip Shirey and Angélica Negrón.

“When Sxip and Angélica got together they realized that they both had apartments full of toys and instruments that they've collected from curiosity shops over the years, and neither of them had ever met anyone like that before,” Rodgers said. The collaboration “was kind of an arranged play date.”

Aside from the musicians themselves, Ecstatic offers festival-goers the opportunity to be the first to experience these collaborations, giving them valuable exposure to new music and new ideas.

“I want festival attendants to have a really powerful experience that isn't quite what their expectations were going in, so they can learn something about themselves and about possibilities for themselves that they didn't even know were there. Art can model that in a way that nothing else can,” Greenstein said.
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