Taking Down the Velvet Ropes: Social Media Brings Fashion Week to the Masses

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is back in NYC through September 16th.   The city will be taken over by beautiful people, paparazzi and VIP-only events.  But what if you're just an average 20-something gal (or guy) looking to catch a glimpse of the latest fashions or sneak a peak backstage at all celebrity drama?  Well you're in luck! This year, not only did Fashion Week get a brand new venue at Lincoln Center after years at Bryant Park, it also got a few social tune-ups. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets, NYFW has become a lot more accessible for the non-celebrity types.  Here's a few ways you can join in on the action, even if you're just a wishful thinking Manhattanite who still can't afford a pair of Christian Loboutins! Twitter:

This year, Twitter has partnered with American Express to allow users to go beyond just following the #NYFW hashtag.  By logging on to their handy microsite you can easily access info about shows, designers, trends and gossip, all neatly aggregated in one place.

Twitter has partnered with several big names in fashion to provide complete  coverage, including Women's Wear Daily (@womensweardaily) , Bergdorfs (@bergdorfs) and Bobbi Brown Cosmetics (@askBobbiBrown).  From this site you can find info on the shows, designers, and backstage gossip as well as photos, videos and links to different blogs.

Twitter  has also created a special @nyfw account, which aggregates  news from a number of reputable sources.

Hashtags to follow include #MBFW  and #NYFW.

Twitpic:

In the old days (like the 90's) if you wanted to see pictures of a private event like Fashion Week, you'd have to wait a few days or even a few weeks until the pictures were published in a newspapers or magazine.  But now, thanks to cell phone cameras and photo-sharing sites like twitpic and others, anyone with access to the shows can instantly share their pictures with the twitterverse and beyond!

Live Stream Runway Shows:

Several designers this year have chosen to bring their once-private runway shows to a broader audience with live streams available via their websites and Facebook.  Designers on-board include BCBGMAXAZRIA, Betsey Johnson and Michael Kors.

BCBGMAXAZRIA Group is streaming several of their shows live on their "Live Runway" tab on Facebook.  Users must like the page to watch the video, which effectively builds their fan base while offering their fans an exclusive experience.

Live Web Cam:

This is just really cool plain and simple.  Log onto the Fashion at Lincoln Center website and watch live web cam of the events.  It's not just runway stuff either.  You can watch people shuffling into the shows and other bits and pieces that give you viewers the "just like being there" feeling.

What social media sources are you relying on to follow Fashion Week this year? Share with us in the comments your favorite way to keep up with the fashion elite even if you aren't on the list!