The reception room at Dr. Ramtin Kassir’s inaugural plastic surgery runway show at 25 Central Park West does not smell clinical. The atmosphere is more like an uptown gallery opening, with everyone drinking and mingling and drinking more. They’re handing out plates of assorted brownies the size of erasers. Only one woman accepts one. She takes a bite and folds the rest up in a napkin that she then stuffs into an empty champagne flute.
It’s a good idea to get everybody drunk, because the premise of a plastic surgery runway show is a weird one. It’s weirder that it’s now aligned (perhaps unfortunately in the eyes of IMG) with New York Fashion Week. Maybe it shouldn’t be weird – fashion week is, at its heart, about all things shiny and new, and has become, also about looking your best. But there’s an obvious rift in weight between choosing a coat and choosing a facelift.
It’s not like fashion and plastic surgery haven’t come together before. But when they do it’s normally the fashion world making a comment on wacky old Hollywood. See the ‘Before&After’ editorial Steven Meisel lensed for Vogue Italia in 2005 or the Crystal Renn-starring facelift shoot created by Tom Ford, Terry Richardson and Carine Roitfeld for Vogue Paris. Meisel’s shoot, titled ‘Makeover Madness’, recreated the alleged story of Sharon Stone treating herself to a complete surgical overhaul before her triumphant red carpet appearance at Cannes.
Dr. Kassir wants to make plastic surgery less Hollywood and more NYC. “Bruce Jenner? No one wants to look like that!” He tells me after mistaking me for one of his patients (I can’t tell if he’s joking or serious or if I’m offended or flattered). “Instead of the Hollywood, overdone look that frightens patients, we’re going to do things correctly and with the right principles and the right people.”
Poking fun at overdone celebrities appears to be a running theme. When one of the ‘beauty queens’ (they have two here, representing ‘injectables’ and dressed in sequins and tiaras) is asked how far is ‘too far’, she replies, “When I look like Joan Rivers!” I wonder if she realizes Joan Rivers basically is New York.
After the drinking and schmoozing has continued until 90 minutes past the scheduled show time, the merry crowd finally filters into the seats around the runway. The absence of front row goody bags adds a welcome sense of egalitarianism not often felt at fashion shows. The Belvedere Agency’s Tyrice Johnson introduces the show with a jab at the ‘unnatural’ faces of Simon Cowell and Madonna.
Then it starts – patients of all ages, shapes and ethnicities emerge from behind a curtain and hit the runway just like regular models, except they’re flanked by two screens showing their ‘before’ and ‘after’ close-ups. The show is divided into sections, and rhinoplasty (nose job), mini facelift, liposuction, eye lift, K-lift (Kassir’s own trademarked specialty), injectables and otoplasty (ear tuck) all flow seamlessly into one another. Dr. Kassir is clearly talented, but I haven’t seen enough nose jobs in my life to discern whether these align more closely with the NYC or Orange County style.
By this stage the mood is bordering on euphoric – half the audience is drunk, the patients/models are loving their 25 seconds of fame and everyone is clapping. It’s bizarre and contagious and I realize I’m having more fun than I’ve had all week. As soon as this happens I feel a bit ashamed and try to chill with the Instagrams.
One thing that goes pretty much unnoticed is the actual fashion. There are fashion-related songs, including Dimitri from Paris’ ‘Une Very Stylish Fille’ (‘I Am a Very Stylish Girl’) but the dresses (black, tight, sequined) might need something more of an edge before Dr. Kassir’s show makes it onto the official IMG schedule. And in an industry that tends to celebrate unusual facial features, it might be a very long time before that happens.
Maybe next year’s show will resonate more strongly with the locals – Dr. Kassir plans to include more below-the-neck procedures for his sophomore New York Fashion Week outing.
Take a look at some other collisions of fashion and plastic surgery and let us know how you feel about the whole thing.
this is some kind of spaceship or something.