Off The Menu: How Supermodels Let Loose at NYFW

Words: Bailey Pennick
Photography: Megan Mack

We partied with celebrities, stylists and runway models for four days and we lived to tell the tales—along with the best things we overheard.

There’s definitely an assumed sense of elitism when it comes to New York Fashion Week. Just imagine telling anyone that you’re going to be there, the response you get is always a larger-than-life OOH LA LA! And while there are designers and runway shows that are breaking the mold and cracking that stereotype about the biggest week in the fashion world, the best way to understand the industry is to walk a mile in the fashion industry’s shoes. Challenge accepted.

At this year’s NYFW, the most surreal and brilliant things we saw took place long after the catwalk was gone. Check out the best of what Fashion Week has to offer, along with some of the strangest things we overheard at those events.

MONDAY/TUESDAY: STUDIO INHIBITIONS III

There’s something eerie about The Jane. It might be it’s old-school Tower of Terror-style lobby or the weight of the hotel’s 100+ year history—including the fact that the Titanic survivors stayed there and held a memorial for the victims—but a strange feeling washes over you as you walk into the meatpacking district staple.

That feeling is compounded when you walk into the Jane Ballroom and gaze up at one of the largest disco balls you’ve ever seen. It’s missing a couple of mirror pieces, but Creative Collective, 92 Dream Team NYC — founders of Studio Inhibitions’  —assures you that it’s better that way: “This is actually the disco ball from Studio 54.” Now the aging makes sense, but it’s all part of creating that perfect club moment again. “[The] structure of Studio Inhibitions is to continue to build a platform where creatives from all walks of life can continue to make this monthly series a home base to collaborate on culture in and outside of the room,” they feel, casually surveying the party that’s finally starting to heat up around midnight. “[We want to bring] a modern day Studio 54 vibe and reviving New York City’s nightlife scene.” 

And, yes, part of that “Studio 54 vibe” comes from the behemoth disco ball hovering overhead, but really Studio Inhibitions curates that exclusive, freewheeling feeling through its “everywhere is VIP” policy and its eclectic celebrity clientele—from hip-hop stars to tennis masters, everyone feels at home at this monthly party.

“I knew I had to be here,” says a girl wearing head-to-toe leather, standing by the roaring fireplace. “My friend said that the was the best place to see famous people and I always like a good party.” She sips her drink while looking around for the A-listers that she was promised. They’re everywhere, but the lights are dimmed so low that it’s almost impossible to spot them, let alone find the people that you came with. That’s what keeps Studio Inhibitions so appealing for celebrities—it’s like their own invisibility cloak.

Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” fills the ornate ballroom while Maria Sharapova cuddles with her friends on a couch in a small upstairs area. Some celebrities didn’t post up at their own table tucked away, though. A$AP Rocky wanted to be out in the middle of the dance floor action, which was packed with models, designers, stylists and dancers.

At 3 a.m. the dark ballroom is lit up with cell phone cameras as a world-class dance battle has started between Les Twins—Beyonce’s favorite dance pair. While the pair is dancing over fancy couches and all over expensive rugs, the impromptu battle makes Studio Inhibitions feel like a house party…minus the Solo cups, of course. You feel like you might be able to crash here if the party continues to go this hard into the morning, but unlike your friend’s first apartment, you actually have to book a room (or piece of floor) at the Jane.

Overheard:

“LA is where people complain about their jobs and New York is where people complain about the weather.” (A bicoastal traveler)

“I need to get faded right now. It’s still Monday!” (A man with a plan)

“That’s not water!” (A very surprised girl who took a sip of her friend’s drink)

“It’s like the whole US Open up in here.” (A tennis fan)

“The Twins are here? I cannot escape them this week.” (A girl with a very first-world problem)

MONDAY: VAQUERA S/S 17 RUNWAY SHOW AND PARTY

On a Monday afternoon, in the heart of Chelsea, one of the most avant-garde and outrageous collections walked out of the minds of Vaquera’s designers and into the world. For their newest spring/summer collection, Patric DiCaprio, Bryn Taubensee and David Moses took the audience back to school with a twisted, DIY take on graduation cap and gowns, school uniforms and Greek life wear. Imagine if someone took Animal House and Everybody Wants Some and shredded them in a blender and you start to get an idea of Vaquera’s new collection.

The crowd—a healthy mix of social activists, unique models (and their family members) and fashionista scenesters—shuffled into the Red Bull Studios space, greeting each other with high-pitched shrieks and comparing seat sections. “My daughter’s in the show today,” said a well-dressed middle aged blonde woman beaming with pride. “She started modeling a couple of months ago and she’s already got 6 shows this fashion week. She’s been very lucky, but I don’t know anything about this brand. I hope they don’t have her in something too crazy.” The bustling backstage full of half-dressed youths didn’t quell her fears, but this mom hadn’t seen anything yet.

After about 10 minutes of mingling, a hushed silence fell over the crowd. Without any announcement, models started walking—and the phones immediately started filming the memorable show. Models wearing unisex garments brought their own flare to their walks, which were set to remixes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Carpenters and more; confidence was especially important for the models walking looks that featured bare breasts and behinds. The high energy of the room never dipped or changed when nudity was presented—the models had no problem with it, why should you?

As the group came around for their final bow, an upbeat remix of Vitamin C’s “Graduation (Friends Forever)” blasted from the speakers. It was light and fun and lead directly into the champagne cocktail afterparty. Models popped out of backstage areas and greeted their loved ones with giant hugs. “You know it’s a crazy show when the swimsuit is one of the more covered-up looks!” laughed a stunned guest.

That mixed sense of awe and confusion is exactly what Vaquera wants with each raw show—and it’s what will carry them on as rising players in this saturated fashion world.

Overheard:

“I don’t think I could handle having my tit just hanging out like that.” (A man)

“How can anyone ask for a date during Fashion Week? Clearly this guy will never understand me.” (A girl who knows the meaning of “boy bye”)

“For me, it’s Ralph Lauren or nothing.” (A guy who was about to be severely perplexed)

“I’m thinking about moving to LA this winter, but I don’t know if I could deal with all those relaxed ‘dude’ people.” (A true nomad)

“You can find anything on the internet. That’s the best way to crash the best parties, do your research!” (A life coach)

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: ALEXANDER WANG’S #WANGFEST

“Alexander Wang always does pretty outrageous stuff for his parties.” Huddled over a free electrical outlet with his iPhone plugged in, a guest settles in for a few minutes of rest. As a wardrobe stylist and a party hopper at this year’s NYFW, a couple moments just sitting down are rare and he knows it. “This party is on another level though. Who has 7-Eleven and McDonald’s trucks?!”

For years now, Alexander Wang has always thrown one hell of a shindig and at last night’s party, the American designer had two major things to celebrate: his latest collection under his own name as well as a surprise pop-up collaboration collection with Adidas.

Double the clothes means double the party right? Well, when it comes to Wang, it’s more like quadruple the party. With a guest list tapping out at around 1,500 people including music heavyweights and up-and-comers (Madonnawill.i.amTinasheMetro Boomin), bonafide TV and movie stars (Baz LuhrmannRami Malek, the Peltz family) and reality stars/models (Kendall and Kylie Jenner), #WangFest felt more like a super tricked-out underground rave than the standard fashion show afterparty. The air in the Pier 94 building was hot and sticky, just adding to the anti-authoritarian feel of the night, which featured giant crossed-out NDA agreements between Adidas and Wang as the primary decoration.

A behemoth McDonald’s truck flipped burgers and passed out fries to the uber-elite guests while buzzed Wangfestgoers looted a 7-eleven truck’s tiny aisles for all the Sour Patch Kids Watermelon gummies and Twix bars that they could grab. “I never miss these Wang parties,” says a girl cradling a bunch of chocolate bars and chip bags in her arms. “The key is to have at least one person in your group bring a really big bag so you can store all the loot.” As she ran off, presumably to unload her riches onto that unsuspecting friend who drew the short straw, a few others saw her haul and decided to jam onto the truck themselves. It was the only time A-listers of this magnitude were thrilled to see the orange-and-green neon of the convenience store chain.

While the stacks of free food, several open bar trucks and sneak peeks at Wang’s Adidas collection were more than enough to be considered party of the year, WangFest also boasted a major festival-quality lineup of performers. DesiignerFetty WapPost MaloneTygaCLSkrillex, Travis Scott and more got the packed crowd moving under a plethora of glittering disco balls. The United Nations of supermodels—Anna Ewers, Hanneli Mustaparta, Lourdes Leon (daughter of Madonna), Adwoa Aboah, Hanne Gaby Odiele, Jourdan Dunn, Kasia Struss, Devon Windsor and Alexandra Richards (daughter of Keith Richards)—let their hair down, relaxing, joking with friends and running around the massive warehouse.

Since the real models were off the clock, the more stylish partygoers picked up their slack posing in front of everything possible, some even going as far as spilling their drinks over their heads for that perfect “wet” look. At New York Fashion Week no one waits for the perfect moment, they make sure it happens and deal with the sticky feelings later.

As he kicked off the festivities, you could tell that Wang was still riding the adrenaline high of his triumphant S/S17 reveal. “We’re just getting started!” he shouted to a sea of hoots and woos and, while he was talking about this night specifically, the energy in the air proved that the guests were excited about his future as one of the country’s top designers as well.

Overheard:

“The only person to really make it out of Project Runway was Christian Siriano. Where are the rest of those fools?!” (Someone who obviously forgot that Tim Gunn has made it big)

“Alexander Wang’s got a serious ride-or-die aura about him.” (A stylish psychic)

“They’re putting a lot of money behind this singer chick and I want to get in on some of that money!” (An opportunist in line for a free Slurpee)

“I don’t think you’re supposed to drink that thing through the glow stick…” (A concerned friend)

“This is the first solid thing I’ve eaten in days.” (A girl holding a sleeve of McDonald’s French fries and crying tears of joy)

“They only had my name on the list so I just left him outside.” (A practical dater)

“This reminds me a lot of Calvin Klein’s Coachella party.” (A VIP world traveler)

SATURDAY NIGHT: ECKHAUS LATTA AFTERPARTY

Mere minutes after 11 p.m., a line full of impeccably dressed people snaked down a block in Chelsea. For a crowd that was too cool for school (but looked young enough to go to school still) they were incredibly orderly, all trying to look into the Red Bull Studio’s windows to see who was already inside.

“This is my first New York Fashion Week,” says a lanky woman holding a very pink cocktail. She surveys the crowd, which is filing in quickly to the two-level party, with a confidence that doesn’t seem to fit with her story about being a NYFW virgin. “But this isn’t my first Fashion Week at all,” she continues, her faint French accent growing stronger as she sips. “My mother works in fashion in Paris, so I’m always at Paris Fashion Week, this is a different vibe though. NYFW is more, how should I say it, streety?”

She’s not wrong, especially when it comes to the alternative crowd that’s buzzing about the young bicoastal brand’s runway show in the sliver of a smoking area as a DJ mashes up funk, crunchy hip hop and ambient noises in front of a projector. High heels and party dresses were swapped out for a sleek track jackets, fly sneakers and “dad hats.” BADBADNOTGOOD runs down the stairs to retreat to the ultra-private studios behind the party, but not before grabbing a drink and checking the chill vibes out.

Just like the brand that the party was for, the Eckhaus Latta afterparty was more of a relaxed hangout for some of the most brilliant minds in the arts than a full-blown gala, but there were definitely still some party fouls. A loose partygoer—who seemed to expertly plan his slate grey ensemble to blend in perfectly with the couch—felt so comfortable that he actually nodded off, spilling his drink all over himself and the furniture. The ice woke him up and he ran faster than Usain Bolt to go clean up. No such luck for the couch though.

Overheard:

“Who’s that girl in the yellow pants, I feel like I should know her…” (A thirsty man.)

“If I carry one in my mouth, I won’t have to come back here for a few minutes.” (An efficient drinker haggling with the bartender)

“I wish I could just Superman my clothes off and on so I wouldn’t have to be in the bathroom forever.” (A woman wearing a very complicated jumpsuit)

“So I figure I don’t have to go to work for a few more days if I say I’m sick and don’t post photos of all the parties I’m going to.” (A girl who is definitely going to get caught playing hooky.)

“Do you think I can get my weed dealer in here?” (A dreamer)

SATURDAY AFTERNOON: 29 ROOMS BY REFINERY 29

The best way to ease into NYFW seems to be going to an event that’s not actually related to fashion. Sure there was a room by Michael Kors, which featured his newest line bags, but all in all Refinery 29’s second incarnation of their insanely popular #29Rooms, an art instillation/gallery that brings together the top artists, creators and brands to create 29 inherently unique experience, was really, first and foremost, about the public—the anti-NYFW if you will.

Gaggles of cooing girls run from room to room (“I’m going to have so many great snaps!”), lighting up the warehouse’s dark hallway with their phones as they pass. The number one accessory at 29 Rooms is your phone (hopefully with a lot of battery life left) and everyone knew how to handle themselves accordingly. Suddenly makeshift art directors are popping up everywhere with their suggestions for better lighting, faces and more takes. It feels like Blow Up, but, you know, without the raw, animalistic emotion of capturing moments on film. This is meticulously curated.

“All you have to do is put on those headphones, lie back and look up at the ceiling to fully enjoy this room,” says one friendly helper posted at the entrance of one of the experiences as gallery-goers hover towards her. Well, she wasn’t really at the entrance of the door as much as she was trying to linger by a nearby fan because it was hotter than hell in her supposedly relaxing oasis.  And if 29 Rooms did have one stumbling block it would, one hundred percent, be the sweltering heat of the warehouse because no one likes a sweaty selfie. No one.

But the heat and the massive line that wrapped around the block twice didn’t put a damper on anyone’s Instagrammable plans, if anything, the heat forced the Fashion Week hopefuls and NYFW admirers to interact with each instillation more to find that perfect angle for their glistening faces. Well played, New York.

OVERHEARD:

“Sometimes people can just be such heartless monsters.” (A truth teller)

“I know I said I like glitter, but really I only like confetti and, no, they aren’t the same thing.” (A determined craftsperson faced with a dilemma)

“Apparently I think the rules don’t apply to me.” (A scofflaw with a heart of gold)

“I thought there was another room over here, but it was just a line of port-a-potties.” (Exhibit explorer)

 

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09 2016 The Red Bulletin

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