Oh my God, I’m running late.
My mind is racing as I hop into my Uber, en route to Saks Fifth Avenue’s celebration of their one-year anniversary of L’Avenue, the retailer’s Parisian-style restaurant. Its special guest? Billy Porter — yes, the Billy Porter. It’s fashion week, my first week on the job with Very Good Light, and my first celebrity event and my heart is racing.
I’m here to grab an interview with my idol but am wondering if I’ll get a word with him or just be lost in the sea of his fans. I recite my questions for Billy frantically over and over again, as I wait in the buzzing line of New York City socialites. In one corner is the model Winnie Harlow. In another, Gwendoline Christie, from Game of Thrones. They’re all, like me, waiting for the emperor to arrive.
I’m fashionably late and descend into a dim-lit hallway and beeline to the elevator. Little do I know that the elevator would be the scene for a golden moment in my career and life. As I turn around, flickers of light from the paparazzi shine against a silhouette, immediately revealing itself to be the night’s guest of honor… Billy Porter. The hallway immediately becomes silent, all eyes gravitate to his graceful entrance into the hallway.
My mind turns blank for a moment (as one naturally does when you’re around such a legendary presence), but I collect my thoughts. After all, I have a job to do. As we’re waiting for the elevator, the Pose star comes into the hallway with a strut that’s as confident and enigmatic as you can expect from a Broadway legend. His entourage is following not far behind, and a squeal escapes my lips. In a moment’s glance he went from being outside, to a mer two-inches from me. As he steps into the next available elevator to go up, I hesitate to simply make eye contact. He looks over at us through his entourage of people and says:
“This is not a private elevator, come on in!”
So here I am, sharing an elevator ride with one of the most legendary, groundbreaking faces to ever grace Hollywood (and our TV screens). Up close, I’m able to really appreciate his creamy, velvety smooth complexion. His face is beat with light foundation and his hair is moisturized for the gods with his bright red eye shadow. The ‘fit for the night doesn’t disappoint. It’s an all-black moment, topped with a chain-embezzled leather jacket and platform boots.
Billy’s just as breathtaking in-person than on television. And more – he was so gracious, inviting me into the elevator with him. So, what does one talk about when they find themselves in an elevator with fashion’s biggest name? Shoes. And beauty, of course
I swallowed the hard pill of anxiety and sparked up a conversation and complimented his boots, and I was met with a pleasant surprise: gratitude and kindness. My friend speaks about showing off at graduation, and as we share giggles, Billy and I make eye contact and say “Periodt,” in sync (great minds do think alike, after all).
The theme of the night is “Uncommon Chic,” which is exactly in Porter’s wheelhouse. And what does that mean? I ask. “Me! Period. Me,” he replies. “I am the definition of uncommon chic.”
Before I let him go, I have to talk about his skincare. After all, other than his show-stopping lewks from the iconic Oscars tuxedo gown, The Met’s dripping-in-gold moment, and of course, that recent Grammys hat, it’s Billy’s skin everyone talks about.
And so I ask. While he didn’t spill all of the details, he did let us in on one secret: he religiously uses a skincare brand that almost meets his legendary status. “Kiehl’s,” he exclaims proudly. “Lots and lots of Kiehl’s products!”
As the elevator opens and the flashing lights blind all of us, I watch as the glamazon of a man stops, poses and ignites the night. This man is the star of this show, and we can’t help but watch.in Look, Billy Porter, black celebrities, celebrities, essay, fashion week, NYFW, self reflection, skincare