New York Fashion Week is a marathon, not a sprint, so I condition first with the ladies who lunch at Central Park’s Loeb Boathouse where the uptown set hosts The Playground Partners of the Women’s Committee of Central Park’s Playground Partners Winter Luncheon. Lela Rose and Jenna Bush Hager take the stage to chat about Rose’s life, work and love for New York, and the event raises more than $100,000 for the Central Park Playgrounds. On the fund-raising trail, I score an invite to the annual amfAR gala. The benefit raises $1.7 million for AIDS research in a single night thanks in no small part to the well-heeled crowd who are treated to performances by Grace Jones and Jane Krakowski. A$AP Rocky is also in attendance, and I desperately want him to interact with Robin Wright, who I know better as House of Cards’ Claire Underwood. Sadly, the two never cross paths. Maybe next year.
Fashion Week proper starts the next morning. I start off modestly enough with a fleet of five shows, beginning with Richard Chai Love at Lincoln Center. Next is Duckie Brown, where I catch up with Ruthie Davis, who designed the shoes for the show. “We collaborated on these cute little shoes for Duckie Brown—the Duckies, I’m calling them,” she says, showing off the heels. “They are a beautiful classic pump with some unexpected details.” Outside Milk, I find the street-style paparazzi in full swing on the way into Costello Tagliapietra. My former boss Kelly Cutrone lets me steal some front-row real estate for a better view before dashing back up to the Highline Hotel for Timo Weiland’s first men’s presentation. The converted Catholic school is one of the coolest venues in New York. “This collection is inspired by upstate New York—Beacon, Hudson River Valley,” Weiland tells me. “We did this really impactful adventure weekend to celebrate Alan [Eckstein‘s] girlfriend’s birthday. My boyfriend and I actually slept in this old, fully restored Airstream trailer.”
After the shows, I hit a few parties with a friend. Tonight, we take on six—seriously. The Standard Hotel’s The Shop is hosting a cozy (read: crowded) preview of the Del Toro x Snarkitecture footwear. The kicks are lined with reflective 3M material, giving extra flash to photos. Target also launches its new collab with Peter Pilotto at Gotham Hall, where a massive obelisk centerpiece has been constructed for models to show off the trippy, colorful prints. Taylor Schilling, Diane Kruger, Dree Hemingway, Alexa Chung and Leigh Lezark are all on Target in Pilotto. There’s no menswear to fight over, so we chat with Lo Bosworth (of The Hills fame), who has moved to Manhattan to work on her new “party box” brand, Revelry House.
We make a stop at Electric Room, which is packed to the gills to celebrate Ardency Inn’s new cosmetic range hosted by Nur Khan with a performance by Seasick Mama. Next door, Scott Lipps holds court at Tao Downtown to celebrate the launch of his new site, Girls of One. The blog follows the daily happenings of four models signed to his agency, One Management. Lipps, along with the Winklevoss twins, Sean Avery and Matt Harvey, snack on dim sum and sip sake. I cap things off at the Todd Snyder after-party at Bar Nana with buddies, photographer Steven Taylor, Joe Jonas and restaurateur Matthew Hechter of Hudson Clearwater. Snyder sits at the table next door to us with Zachary Quinto, Fiona Byrne and Chiun-Kai Shih, while indie band Avan Lava jams until closing.
The following day, Rag & Bone starts a bit late, but it does serve beer in plastic cups, and fried donuts (a reprieve from the usual Champagne and no-food Fashion Week menu). I’m all about the “Cosby or Notorious BIG sweaters” co-designer Marcus Wainwright sends down the runway and labels as such in his own words. Afterward, I head uptown to Harlow for the Daily Front Row’s annual fête. This year, it is celebrating the models, and the room is wall-to-wall perfect bone structure. I chat with Jessica Hart, who still has her hair and makeup intact from the Rag & Bone show, along with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit favorite Julie Henderson. I share a hilariously gosippy Uber ride with Henderson and her power publicist, Kelly Brady, to the Charlotte Ronson presentation. The venue, usually known as Good Units, has been rebranded this season as a new (albeit congested) fashion space called the Hub at the Hudson Hotel. A quick once over the clothes and a run-in with Paris and Nicky Hilton, and I book it down to Wall Street where cult Japanese brand N. Hoolywood is showing at 23 Wall Street. The building, directly across from the New York Stock Exchange, is a former J.P. Morgan outpost now in transition. The gritty show attracts the full menswear mafia—the GQ crew looks especially focused on the fedoras and suits worn by male models discovered on the street. We cap off the night in Soho at Hotel Particulier, where Elder Statesman’s Greg Chait is showing off its new knits on a rotating track of balloon mannequins decked out in the expensively cool jumpers. Erin Wasson and J.Crew’s Jenna Lyons sip beer out of a bottle.
Saturday, I end up backstage at the Mara Hoffman show in Lincoln Center. Models are frantically prepping, and Hoffman chats calmly with Nigel Barker. “I can’t wait to wear this stuff to a weird tribal ceremony,” she tells me. “It’s all inspired by Moroccan rugs, the pyramids, the Bedouin people—the usual. I took a trip via the World Wide Web.” Christian Siriano shows next at Eyebeam Atelier, where his chic designs have sent my seatmate June Ambrose, accompanied by daughter Summer, into overdrive. “He has sent this collection to another level with these hats!” she shouts to me over the music.
I meet up with June at the American Museum of Natural History where Pharrell Williams and David LaChapelle unveil a new line called Bionic Yarn with G-Star Jeans. The cocktail party is anything but intimate, and the Japanese press clamor to get a glance at Williams (who is sporting his now-signature vintage Vivienne Westwood/Smokey the Bear cap). We slyly exit to make it to Hammerstein Ballroom in time for the Moncler Grenoble presentation, which ends up being, hands down, the weirdest thing I have ever seen. The models are arranged in a Hollywood Squares-style structure on the stage, while a men’s choir has been harnessed into some sort of torturous-looking machine that jolts them around as they sing opera songs à la The Omen. It is surreal, to say the least, and the stunned audience files out in near silence.
The night is devoted to two awesome after-parties. The first is for Alexander Wang at the Gilded Lily, tucked under The Monarch Room, which is decidedly sleepier compared to last year’s Harajuku market-themed blowout. It looks like his new LVMH backers may have put the reigns on Wang and his penchant for partying, so I opt to meet up with Steven Taylor and Joe Jonas again for Prabal Gurung’s after-party at new spot Up&Down (though everyone still insists on calling it the Darby). Guests of the party are all sporting plastic crowns paying homage to the crown-sporting streaker who crashed Gurung’s runway earlier in the day. The lucky Gurung is wearing the streaker’s actual crown. The partying ends somewhere in the vicinity of 4 a.m.
Sunday starts (relatively early) at 11 a.m. with the Delpozo show high above Midtown at Skylight Limited. The modest runway setup gives us an up-close look at the intricate designs, and Cuddle Magic provides the perfect gentle soundtrack for the show. We then stop at two shoe presentations before the DKNY show. The first is Alejandro Ingelmo’s, where the designer walks us through the men’s and women’s creations for the season. Legendary Manolo Blahnik, a member of the more traditional shoe design set, is showing his collection just two doors down. There, Tracee Ellis Ross waxes poetic about her favorite facet of a Blahnik, including toe cleavage. “My favorite part of a Manolo is that your feet sort of spill off the front. Toe cleavage is one thing, but in Manolos, you spill. It’s kind of beautiful,” she explains, just before Blahnik shows us around the shoes. “This is my favorite,” he says, leading me by the arm to a dense, tasseled stiletto. “It’s inspired by a 17th-century bedroom, which has nothing to do with shoes, but I don’t give a damn!” Just one block away, the DKNY show is about to start. New York it-girls (and it-guys) walk the runway: Hannah Bronfman, Chelsea Leyland and Angel Haze all walk, while Rita Ora looks on from the front row. “This collection was for you and entirely inspired by you,” Donna Karan, with her grandkids by her side, tells Ora just after the show. I end the day by joining Andrew Saffir’s Cinema Society at the Conrad Hotel to celebrate DreamWorks Animation’s new film, Mr. Peabody & Sherman. The evening is hosted by Ty Burrell and Brooke Shields and makes for the perfect finish to the day before the next dusting of snow.
Monday starts early and ends late, beginning way uptown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where Anna Wintour is hosting a breakfast to preview the new Anna Wintour Costume Center’s upcoming exhibit, Charles James: Beyond Fashion. Aerin Lauder and mega donors Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch are alongside Wintour, while Elettra Wiedemann dons a replica of one of the Charles James gowns on display. The Park Avenue Armory is my next stop, where I arrive at the Tommy Hilfiger show early to find production peeps adding final touches of snow to the alpine runway. While Hilfiger opted for an easygoing West Coast look last season, this season is all about outfits apropos for a ski chalet. Then I catch the beginning of the Alice + Olivia presentation before it gets packed with cult fans of the brand. “This season was truly about luxury and decadence, but in a very day-to-day way,” designer Stacey Bendet says standing next to one of the show’s intricate vignettes. “Although you are asking someone who often wears tutus to work,” she adds. Karen Walker, a favorite of the blogger set, shows next, then I run to the New Museum where the Telfar show already has a sea of hypebeasts mobbing the block in hopes of seeing Drake. While the rapper is a no-show, I do find time to chat with Sidney and Thurman Sewell, better known as the ATL Twins, who are a novelty favorite of the fashion folk this season. “I thought this was a dope-ass show,” one of the twins tells me. (Full disclosure: I have no idea exactly which twin.) This wouldn’t be my last run-in with the twins, not by a long shot.
On what I would consider the polar opposite of the fashion spectrum, I follow up Telfar with the Thom Browne show at Center 548. The space has been transformed into a perverse sort of church, and I’m tempted to make a display and genuflect as I enter my assigned pew. The show starts with a set of altar boys taking their places, donning lace mantillas, before Browne sends out his new set of always-extravagant creations. I’m seated just behind the original street-style chronicler Bill Cunningham, who jumps up to snap photos when he feels inclined. Zero + Maria Cornejo follows, starting right on time and sending out looks fit for the artsy members of the Cornejo cult. I meet back up with the menswear mafia at the Billy Reid show being staged at the Highline Hotel, and of course, I want every piece. “I go straight to Europe now to start finding fabrics for next season,” Reid reports post-show with a glass of whiskey in hand. His favorite whiskey? “Woodford Reserve is a great standard. It’s from the oldest distillery in Kentucky. Anything else I either can’t afford it or can’t get my hands on.” My last show of the day is newcomer Karolyn Pho, who is staging her first runway show. “I feel really confident, really great, really blessed,” she tells me in the midst of prepping looks. “Everything is totally inspired by New York. I live here, breathe here, so it’s totally inspired by the community.” (Alec Baldwin take note.)
The two parties on tap for the evening come courtesy of two of the best indie mags around: Galore and Purple. The Galore party is held at Up&Down. Cover girl Gia Genevieve sports her best pinup ensemble, and I cut a rug with Ireland Baldwin, Gigi Hadid and Galore’s Prince Chenoa before carrying on to the Standard East Village for the Purple fête. Chez André makes for the perfect secret layer of New York creatives and visiting Francophiles, who have taken to smoking inside. I spot Johan Lindeberg, Lily McMenamy, Waris Ahluwalia, Caroline Gaimari, Barron Hilton, Mario Sorrenti, Mary Frey, Natalia Kills, Olivier Theyskens, Sabine Heller and more. Old-school ’90s is the mix of choice, and I spy the Hilton sisters modestly twirling at a table, while the bolder Becka Diamond and Harley Viera-Newton bust a move in the middle of the dance floor. On my way out, I run into my new best friends, the ATL Twins, who are in the midst of their first meeting with Purple Editor-in-Chief Olivier Zahm. The twins look confused as to who this scruffy guy is, and I chat with them afterward to see what their plans are tomorrow. “We’re doing a photo shoot tomorrow with some guy named Steven,” one twin says sounding unsure. “Klein I think it is,” the second twin fills in, also unsure.
My last day at NYFW kicks off again at Lincoln Center for Betsey Johnson. I stop backstage before the show to say “hello” where the Champagne corks have already been popped and Betsey is enjoying a cocktail while fielding interviews. The show is delayed for a late-arriving Paris Hilton, who takes her seat next to Steve Madden directly in front of me. I spend most of the show staring at the back of her head and watching her check herself out in her iPhone camera.
The following time slot is devoted to camping out at the Elizabeth and James presentation to make sure I score an Olsen twins sighting. I scope out the stellar collection, which includes a convertible coat that transforms from trench to cropped jacket with a single zipper that the buyers lust over. I finally spot the petite twins and decide I would pay a hefty sum to see them interact with the ATL Twins, who I later find at my final party of the week at Up&Down to celebrate Jeremy Scott’s show. Scott’s usual coterie of freaky funsters are in attendance, including rapper Riff Raff, but the twins and I decide to hold court at a quieter table downstairs with model Hailey Clauson after they make their way through a scrum of fans. We chat for a while, and it turns out they blew off their Steven Klein shoot in lieu of, one could say, the company of “some chick.” The two are refreshingly unaware and care-free, and I’m a big fan of whatever it is they do.