Stephen Chernin/Associated Press

The coats are big, the shoes bigger and the egos (some of them, at least) enormous.

Mix them all together, pump a good beat, sprinkle a touch of celebrity, and - poof! - you get New York Fashion Week.

Twice a year, thousands of style-obsessed people from throughout the world converge in Manhattan for a week of shows.

They preview styles to toast and roast, and thus help the industry determine what will be deemed hot (or not).

"It's exciting," said designer Yoana Baraschi, a Romanian turned New Yorker whose clothing is sold in Columbus boutiques such as Rowe and Faze.

"It's what feeds the industry twice a year."

The fall shows, which began Thursday, run from morning to night. More than 100 are conducted as part of Fashion Week; dozens of others unfold at off-site studios throughout the city.

Some shows - the runway events - feature disc jockeys rocking and skinny women with serious faces strutting quickly up and back amid a slew of camera flashes.

And - oh, my - there's Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir in the giant fur, ... and there's actress Michelle Trachtenberg, ... and is that another of the reality-TV housewives down there?

Still other shows are of the "presentation" variety. Models stand still on a low-key stage for an hour or more and allow guests ample opportunities to ogle their wears and talk to the crowd-mingling designer herself. (Cheek kisses, anyone?)

Fashion Week involves models - and lots of them. (The 20-year-old stunner from Germany would stop to talk longer, but she's exhausted from 20-some casting calls in recent weeks and is practically running from her last show to her next.)

And it entails dreams. For example, Columbus native Nary Manivong, a designer who teamed with Ally Hilfiger to create a line called NAHM, showed his wares in an off-site show that created buzz.

With paparazzi shouting, "Everyone over here!" Manivong (wearing a scarlet Ohio State T-shirt) proudly posed for photos with Ally and her famous father, Tommy Hilfiger.

"This is our moment to enjoy, celebrate," Manivong said. "I'm excited. I'm happy. I'm enjoying this moment."

And Fashion Week includes fancy dinners out, bizarre after-parties and, occasionally, someone willing to admit how wowed she is.

As two young women - strangers who had just met - stood in line for a show, one (the New Yorker who claimed to own a company) bragged about how she had sent assistants to do this and get that. The far-sweeter blogger from Missouri listened quietly, then spoke up.

"I'm not the one asking assistants to do things; I'm the assistant," she said.

Which is OK with her because she just loves being a part of it all.

"I guess I'm that girl. And I'm not afraid to admit it."

For photos of select fashion shows, click here