Few, if any, of the fashion industry's biggest media heavyweights were anywhere near a computer on Saturday night when news broke that Whitney Houston had died at the young age of 48. In fact, the vast majority were cramped into bright red folding chairs in a warehouse on West 28th Street, getting ready to watch one of the weekend's biggest shows, Altuzarra.
Mere minutes before the show was scheduled to start, word began to trickle in -- at first rumor, then fact -- that the pop queen had passed away.
Despite being rather slow to embrace technology, several seasons ago Twitter began to take hold of the fashion community in a major way -- mostly due to the increasingly frenetic pace of New York Fashion Week (more than 350 shows this season alone), and also due to building pressure on the media to get the first looks out, well, first. Ever since, the platform has become an increasingly dominating and unifying force for the hordes of editors, stylists, and retailers scattered all over the city at the shows.
We were seated next to one of the week's top Twitter personalities -- the blogger Bryanboy -- and were among the first to react to the news, but one could sense news traveling through the room. By the end of the show, it was all anyone was talking about as they made their way back to their cars or walked to the train. Many in the industry, like model Coco Rocha, could not help but draw comparisons to Alexander McQueen's passing, which also occurred during the fall collections two years ago. Others felt shock, or issued more official statements of grief: Designer Vera Wang tweeted, "So saddened by Whitney Houston's passing. A great, beautiful talent who will be mourned by all," while Elle's Joe Zee, who tweeted: "Whitney was one of the first albums I ever bought. Her voice was angelic and now she's singing with them. Still in shock." By 10 p.m., Whitney Houston was a trending topic on Style.com's The Fashion Feed, which tracks tweets by industry insiders.
No surprise: Houston's music reverberated throughout the many Saturday night after-parties, especially at Prabal Gurung's late-night fete at the Electric Room, where DJ Mia Moretti spun remixes of the pop queen's anthems.