New York fashion week officially starts today. However, last night, in order to ease the international style set’s transition from the beaches of the Hamptons and Ibiza to the front row, Style.com decided to throw a low-key fete. OK, not that low-key—we were also celebrating the forthcoming relaunch of our website. But thanks in part to the magical setting—a secluded Nolita garden that had been unforgettably transformed into a sylvan wonderland by the Absolut Elyx event team—the party seemed the perfect, laid-back way to kick off a month of runway shows. “I’m sitting here barefoot with a fucked-up T-shirt in the grass. It’s beautiful,” mused cohost Johan Lindeberg, who had recently returned from Burning Man. “That relaxed me more than anything I’ve done in 20 years!” he said of the desert festival. “I was up until 7 o’clock every morning dancing.”
Upon arrival, partygoers including a gang of designers (Humberto Leon, Prabal Gurung, Proenza Schouler’s Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, Rag & Bone’s Marcus Wainwright and David Neville) and models (Saskia de Brauw, Anja Rubik, Kati Nescher, Catherine McNeil, Binx Walton) were greeted by a copper portal that transported them from the hustle and bustle of Elizabeth Street to the aforementioned secret garden. The enchantment was amplified by the fact that a copious flow of pre-dinner cocktails was served in teacups, and that model and singer Jamie Bochert was perched at a piano, crooning a medley of heady, original songs. Despite her moving set (not to mention her experience strutting down countless high-profile catwalks), Bochert admitted that she was terrified while performing. “But now I feel great because it’s over!” she laughed.
After doing a fair amount of schmoozing (come on now, as Zen as its setting may have been, this was still a fashion week party), such guests as Nate Lowman, China Chow, Harry Brant, Lisa Marie Fernandez, and Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz sat down at long wooden tables to feast on a series of exceptional vegetable-based dishes prepared by Phil Winser‘s downtown eatery, The Fat Radish. Looking particularly relaxed (especially for a designer whose show is mere days away) was Phillip Lim. “You just have to surround yourself with amazing people. You’ve got to keep it real,” offered the designer when asked how he stays sane during NYFW. “Though it helps to have this drink here,” he chuckled, before promising that his Spring collection will be “very sexy.”
Naturally, the conversation gravitated toward what everyone was looking forward to seeing this season. Artist Richard Phillips and musician (and Hedi Slimane muse) Liza Thorn are most intrigued by Gareth Pugh’s event. “I love the spectacle of fashion week,” said Phillips. “Fashion is art, and I often remember fashion shows more than art shows because of the way they’re pieced together.” Style.com editor in chief Dirk Standen was quick to concur. “Our goal with the new Style.com is to explore the way fashion intersects with culture, because fashion now occupies as central a position as music, movies, or even art.”
Just back from a jaunt in Montauk, an Opening Ceremony-clad Dree Hemingway stressed that she can’t wait to see what New York’s designers come up with. Although, due to the model and actress’ starring role in a new Logan Sandler-directed film, which she’ll begin shooting this month, Hemingway has to skip most of the action. “I’ll be visiting Style.com so I can stay in the loop,” she said. “Actually, this is the only fashion week party I’m going to this season. I’m really missing most of the festivities, but I’m happy that I got to celebrate with Style.com.”
The evening’s celebratory drink of choice? Absolut Elyx, naturally. See how the “luxury vodka” is made here.
—Katharine K. Zarrella
This isn’t Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s first New York fashion week in office, but we’ll let last season’s lack of participation slip. The man had only been sworn in just a few weeks prior. Now, eight months into his tenure, the mayor has had a bit more time to strategize a vision, enlist allies, and execute a plan—and it’s an ambitious one. Last night, fashion’s heavy hitters were summoned to Yorkville for a cocktail party at Gracie Mansion officially kicking off the week’s festivities and announcing three new initiatives out of City Hall: a NYC Capsule Collection to help local designers produce and sell locally; an expanded “Made in NYC” branding program; and the first two Fashion Production Fund awards given to Karolina Zmarlak and Rosie Assoulin.
Part of the fun was getting to snoop around Gracie Mansion. Fashion rarely heads so far uptown, let alone to the mayor’s home, so the night nearly felt like a group field trip. “There’s lawn bowling out on the lawn!” said Tanya Taylor, “and I think the mayor is meeting in a back room with some important people.” Rebecca Minkoff was equally thrilled: “I mean, we go to parties all the time, but as soon as I started walking up the steps here, it just hit me: I’ve got to get it together, this is Gracie.”
Having worked with two mayors in City Hall now, the CFDA’s Steven Kolb had only good things to say about De Blasio. “In this regard the two men [De Blasio and Michael Bloomberg] have more similarities than differences. Both are extremely eager to work with us and understand that fashion is really a central part of this city’s economy and identity.” No kidding—Kolb pointed out that fashion employs 180,000 New Yorkers. “I think the fact that we are kicking the week off at Gracie Mansion says a lot about [De Blasio’s] enthusiasm,” Kolb added.
Perhaps the most enthusiastic guest last night was Chiara de Blasio, who, in the face of a fashion emergency (her father shared that she was unable to find a suitable lipstick for the occasion), decided to mix her own cerulean lipstick at home. As for the mayor himself, his fashion emergencies are of a much more ordinary nature. He told Style.com: “I have a habit of stopping at whatever deli or bodega looks interesting, then hopping back in the car on the phone. A few ties and shirts have suffered along the way…food of all nations plus the phone plus driving is probably not the smartest thing.”
“It’s like we’re all waking up from our summer vacations,” said Ryan McNamara. “We’re back from New Mexico, we’re back from the Hamptons, and we all look cute and tan—they really make us hit the ground running!” Style.com spotted the performance artist at the closing night festivities for Rachel Feinstein‘s Madison Square Park sculpture exhibition Folly, one of the first events in what is sure to be a party-crazed NYFW. (“Shit won’t look good by the end of the week,” McNamara joked.) The bash, held at the cavernous NeueHouse, included a rather epic performance Feinstein created for the sculptures’ final hours. “I was watching people in the park walking on the sculptures, letting their kids play on them and doing selfies, and I thought, This is so much cooler than when they’re just sitting by themselves!” she said. “The Last Days of Folly” featured contributions from Sofia Coppola (who also designed a special wine can for the party), Jarvis Cocker, Narciso Rodriguez, Giles Deacon, and a host of other creatives. “It was like a dream,” Feinstein said.
Farther downtown at Mr. Chow’s, Jennifer Fisher celebrated her Madison Avenue flagship opening. “It’s been so many years and I’ve worked so hard to get here,” Fisher said, “and now to have a space where people can shop daily—it’s an incredible feeling.” The crowd included friends and supporters, like Leandra Medine, Hilary Rhoda, and cohost Joan Smalls. “What Jennifer does is so beautiful,” said the model. “The way she designs is so edgy but feminine. I’m just here to celebrate her talent!” A block away, at the penthouse of The Greenwich Hotel, Joie’s Serge Azria threw a relaxed dinner of Locanda Verde-prepared English pea soup, crispy polenta, and lamb meatballs for the likes of Kate Young, Josephine Skriver, and Garance Doré. “It’s all family around here,” said Jessica Hart from the room’s tree-covered terrace.
It was fashion central at Cherche Midi last night, where Trademark’s Pookie and Louisa Burch were celebrating their first-ever store with a post-opening dinner for 100. In one corner Ashley Olsen, in another Olivier Theyskens, and sprinkled among the tables at Keith McNally’s new hot spot, other members of the Burch clan, including papa Christopher, former stepmom Tory, and sister Izzie. Burch père interrupted dinner to make a speech: “I’m fortunate enough to be Pookie and Louisa’s partner, and I mean that like this [makes finger quotes], which means, ‘Dad, we grew up with you and Mom, we know what we’re doing, please stay away.'” Big round of applause.