The only way to get through Fashion Week is by exercising careful selection and achieving balance. Do not go to everything you can go to and find other things to do.
When I first went to shows as a member of the audience (I had always been backstage before because I was running the music), I was obsessed. I wanted to go to every show and every after party.
When I had a column in “Paper” magazine, I really had to pack everything in so I could report on all that was hot and groovy. The weird thing was that the shows I really got the biggest kick out of were the Ladies Who Lunch shows: Oscar, Blass, Carolina… The workmanship was extraordinary. Without having to dazzle with a SHOW, they just made you swoon from sheer beauty. Sometimes things veered a bit into the Bar Mitzvah/Mother-of-the-Bride netherworlds, but it was still a nice change.
The other great shows were during the Supermodel era, with Todd and Isaac being the real standouts. Marc and Anna also used those curvy Uber Women well. The best party was always Ghost’s Halloween party the night of the day they always had their shows. I would get into the parties because I was a close friend of Sam McKnight, the infamous hairdresser, and Mary Greenwell, the equally infamous make-up artist, both of whom always handled these responsibilities for Ghost’s live shows. Whenever the designer, Tanya Sarne, would make her entrance, she would always stop right next to me, take a big look around, then snarl, “Who the fuck are all these people?” She would then go out of her way to body check me. And Sarne is not a slight woman. I actually got a kick out of it because I could always count on it. I have no idea why she always zeroed in on me. The weird thing is that, years later, we actually formally met each other and got along famously from then on.
However, with age, I found that I was getting weary of all that running around just to see some frocks or slacks get pony-stomped back and forth across runways. The parties had changed from being just a great way to unwind with those who had worked so hard and closely with each other or to re-connect with Fashion Week friends to packed dens of desperate fashion victims.
Happily, this all happened when I got married, so my interests shifted naturally from being a party girl to something more relaxed and satisfied. My husband likes the fashion scene and we still attended certain events, but, if there’s a concert we want to attend, we go. I once went to someone’s show who was well known for starting very late and just socialized, then left and went to dinner and a concert with my husband. We returned later for the after party. Perfect!
To me, it was Marc’s blowout at the Piers on the eve before 9/11 that was the turning point. That night was so exquisite and exceptional. Then, the next day… I was even scheduled to DJ Nicole Miller’s show on the 13th. Thankfully it was just postponed because I was counting on that for my rent money. Whatever shows went on went on in a smaller way. Nicole had hers at her showroom, as did many others.
Then, I began to realize that I was accepting invites for shows and not attending them. I discovered that I really only enjoyed going to Marc’s, Anna’s and Betsey’s. Occasionally I would agree to a few others who were getting some buzz, but that was it. Happily, those three kept me on their lists (though I would intermittently fall off of and then be restored to Marc’s), even though I wasn’t writing a column anymore and couldn’t really do anything for anyone. I even did music again for Betsey, who was the first designer who had ever used me, back in 1981.
Since the economy sank last season, I fell off of Marc’s list again. I understand, since I’m not someone who can help him business-wise and I’m no longer a Queen of the Night. I had stopped going to his parties even before the invites to them stopped arriving. They had become far too packed and Marc had started sequestering himself off in another room with the famous friends he started collecting once he got so hot again.
So, this season I went to Betsey’s and Anna’s. As usual, both were such a treat. Betsey turned the Palm Court at the Plaza into a rollicking and colorful girly rock and roll pastry extravaganza. Guests noshed on petite fours and sucked on straws stuck into individual mini champagne bottles. The clothing was pure Betsey: Ruffles and floral prints and naughty. There was a bit of Westwood and a bit of Anna, but Betsey had done all of this first. Her sexy Victorian-inspired creations are always a bit too short, a bit to low-cut or a bit too tight, as well as very fun, young and costumey. What has always been so special about her is the consistency of her look, a look that captures girl’s hearts just as much today as they did this girl’s heart (and dollars) back when I was wearing them. What is so intelligent about Betsey’s clothing is that they’re priced for those who would look best in them. She’s one of the few designers who are naturally recession-proof.
One of the funniest parts of the early evening was when the goody bags made their appearance. There was a literal stampede over to a narrow side room. As I was returning with mine, I almost bumped into “Paper’s” David Hershkovits. “Do not EVER gets between me and my gift bag!” David shouted as he barreled past, laughing. Believe me, that was one gift bag worth shoving for: Lots of snacks, both savory and sweet, makeup and Betsey’s usual diamante-studded shear pink undies. Fabulous! The only thing that was missing was Betsey’s usual cartwheel. “Save the (former) cheerleader, save the world.” Indeed: Save the cheerleader, save fashion!
(I’ve just read that Betsey is designing an “Eloise” suite at the Plaza. What a perfect marriage!)
Betsey Johnson at her Spring 2010 Presentation at The Plaza Hotel in NYC
Anna’s was pure Anna. There was only one glitzy dress (the closer), but that was probably to keep the cost of the garments down. It was all very Dollybird and Sixties and upbeat. Anna is another person whose prices fit those who her clothing looks best on. It should also be mentioned that, despite their inherent trendiness, they actually become classical staples in one’s closet and are so well made, they last forever. Her show is always such a great place to reconnect with old Fashion Week friends because you can always count on so many of the same faces year in and year out. Everyone loves Anna and she definitely, like Betsey, deserves their love. Both women are so natural and loyal and have their feet so firmly planted. Such is rare in the flighty world of Fashion. A couple of months ago I bumped into Anna on the street near Union Square and she made me laugh. She was “cheap shoe shopping.” I totally understood. Believe me, I have my share of creations by Aldo that I treasure.
Shoes at Anna Sui's Spring 2010 Collection at The Bryant Park Tents in NYC
In between, I took in some movies. There were no concerts to attend, so flicks provided my balance. The first Monday, I was Musto’s plus one to Jane Campion’s latest, “Bright Star”. For those who miss the feverish bodice-ripper lushness of the Merchant Ivory sort, this is right up your hoo-ha. Thankfully, Harvey Keitel was not in it flashing his sagging bum, so that’s always a recommendation. The film is beautifully shot, the costumes are GORGEOUS and the acting screams, “Look at me awards givers!” That siren, Abbie Cornish, best known as the woman who got between Ryan Phillipe and Reese Witherspoon’s marriage, plays a siren named Fanny (of all things). She’s the mysterious woman who the Romantic Poet, John Keats, got all hot and bothered over. This was a great choice to screen during Fashion Week because Fanny was obsessed with being stylish and creating complex fashion by hand. Unfortunately, I actually almost fell asleep ¾ of the way through, despite the theater’s frigid air. I’m just not a Chick Flick sort of chick. My Stella Adler-trained hubby is far more the film snob than I am. I even have to go to the Christmas and Summer blockbusters by myself or with my dear pal Jenny Lumet who, despite writing one of the classiest films of last year (“Rachel Getting Married”), loves the big popcorn glitz as much as I do.
Jan Chapman, Paul Schneider, Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw and Jane Campion at the U.S. Premiere of "BRIGHT STAR", hosted by VANITY FAIR & Apparition, at The Paris Theater in NYC
Which brings us to the other screening I attended, “The Informant!”. This movie pairs the recently rumored late Matt Damon with Scott Z. Burns, who wrote “The Bourne Ultimatum”. Steven Soderbergh directs it into a fun, manic and absurd (though it is based on a real story) farce. It’s the story of a whistleblower named Mark Whitaker who is not the Erin Brockovich (another Soderbergh film) he originally appears to be. Damon is quite a sight, having gained 30 lbs. and sporting a really bad toupee. He’s also pitch perfect as he walks the innocent/sleaze tightrope. I love Bryan Bantry’s screenings. He always has the big movies you want to see and I’ve yet to sit through a clunker. I’ve just taken part in a bit of a discussion about this movie on Facebook because one of my “friends” wrote that it was confusing. Well, so are the Bourne blockbusters, but I actually like to suspend my beliefs for a round of escapism as long as I’m being heartily entertained. Even the friend admitted it was fun…but, confusing.
Matt Damon at "THE INFORMANT!" New York Premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre in NYC
Mark Whitaker at "THE INFORMANT!" New York Premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre in NYC
Oh well…what better way to exit Fashion Week. Entertained and confused.
If you find yourself looking for entertainment any Friday or Saturday night, amble into FLUTE GRAMERCY (40 E 20th St # 1 New York, NY 10003-1352 (212) 529-7870), drown your ennui in a glass or twelve of one of their champagnes, stuff your tummies with delicious food and sway to the unique sounds provided by DJ ERZEN.