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Answering the call of Fashion Week

Fashion Week is coming to an end in New York City. I have returned home to my “regular” life of being a Mommy to Addison, publicist and Memphis belle. by Joy Doss
Special to the Tri-State Defender

Fashion Week is coming to an end in New York City. I have returned home to my “regular” life of being a Mommy to Addison, publicist and Memphis belle. In my New York life, I am still all of those things. I fancy myself a dual representer of Memphis and New York since I lived in the “City” (Brooklyn) for 12 years.

 Memphian – and one-time New Yorker – Joy Doss gets some professional help backstage from her makeup artist, Thomas, during her Fashion Week visit to the “City.” (Photo by Eric Hernandez for Photo FX)

 Runway look from Maria Michele with Sukari handbag. (Photo by Eric Hernandez for Photo FX)

But twice per year, Fashion Week calls.

The allure of collections, the looks on and off the runway (some tragic in either manifestation!), the possibility of an Anna (Wintour) or Andre (Leon Talley) sighting and the energy in the City around this time, pull me in every time. I heed its siren song like a character out of Greek mythology.

 I was in New York, not just as a lookey-loo and couch critic, but also as the Executive Producer of The Style Salon, which showed for the 4th season. A collective showing, we present sublimely talented designers that are simmering just beneath the fashion surface. So it’s our job to give them a bit of a push and be part of the building process. We presented five designers this go-round – Maria Michele, Kachi Designs and Ikasho (millinery), with featured accessories designers Sukari New York and Nailah’s.

The Spring 2012 season was big for my co-producer, Jada Russell, and me because we took a bit of a hiatus, precipitated by me taking a mommy break. You might say this was the big re-launch. I gave it every ounce of energy I had (that did not go to Addison). When you “birth your baby” it is yours and yours alone. Win or lose, succeed or fail, the onus is on you. That’s a lot of pressure on a girl but I also fancy myself to be a tough girl. Having lived in New York for so long, you have to become a tough girl, at least on the outside, so no one will try you!

At home in Memphis, I find people generally have one of two reactions to New York:

Reaction one

How do you live in such a place, it’s so dirty? Isn’t it dangerous? It’s so dirty and noisy.

True, for the most part. While New York does smell terrible and is noisy, I find Memphis to be way more dangerous, if for no other reason than New York is heavily populated at all times. The City really never sleeps.

Reaction two

Take me with you to New York!

To which I say, New York is neither for the faint of heart nor for the post-20-something adult. It’s for the young and foolish. I do not recommend moving there unless you are offered tons of money. Do know that a lot of money there is not the same as a lot of money here. So by that I mean, it must be well into 6 figures for it to make sense (a quarter of a million or better).  

Otherwise, stay where you are.

You don’t move there to become a fireman, a nurse or a teacher. You can do that somewhere else with a lower cost of living. You move there because you have a dream and it can only be fulfilled in the City. For instance, working on Wall Street, working in publishing (national magazines, national papers), working in fashion or advertising.

‘Repatriated Memphian’

Now that I am what I call a “repatriated Memphian,” I see both of my beloved cities with different eyes.

I appreciate what Memphis has to offer in terms of “Mainstream America normalcy.” There’s plenty of space, my family is here and for all its warts, it’s a swell place to raise a child. I have relinquished my cramped, one-bedroom quarters – at $1600 per month rent! – for the option of space, clean streets and much less congestion and aggression. I wasn’t all that sure that I wanted Addison to be a “city rat” anyway.

People ask me if I’m going to move back.  The answer is probably not. What I’ve realized being at home in Memphis is that the bar for the standard of living in New York is very low. There are so many things that people come to accept that are absolutely unacceptable for decent living, rodents being one of those things, and excessive trash. (Shudder!)

That said, there are so many great restaurants, the Met, the museums, the ballet, any number of lounges that cater to the in-betweens (not 45+, not under 25), great hip hop (if anyone knows where I can hear some great East Coast hip hop or good reggae on a regular basis in Memphis, email me!) and endless shopping possibilities.

But New York seemingly has become a place where only princes and paupers survive, the projects or the penthouse. All of us folk in the middle are basically scratchin’ and survivin’. I didn’t realize how tired I was of constantly running the hamster mill until I got home.

Make no mistake, I will always need a healthy dose of “City” in order to survive. It’s part of what makes me, me. But as I continue to settle in at home (it’s a process!) and plan my next New York trip, I feel happy in my duality. Whether I’m a New York girl in Memphis or a Memphis girl in New York, I am enjoying the best of both worlds.

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