Sep 18, 2009

Confessions of a Fashion Week Party Monster [Couture Crash]

Fashion Week just OD'd. But I'm comforted by the fact that its sexy corpse will rise again to do another skeleton dance on the catwalk, seduce the style-obsessed among us, and throw up at an after-party at Indochine.

So, did everyone have a good time? I wondered about that as I embarked on my final night out as Gawker's Fashion Week Party Correspondent. I personally did not get into any of the A-list soirées: I was barred from the big Marc Jacobs/Lady Gaga blowout, told that "the list is closed" at Alexander Wang's gas station gala, and couldn't score an invite to the T Magazine drink-up at the Standard, just to name a few indignities. I must confess that at times I wished I could have shape-shifted into the form of Josh Hartnett. Or better yet, a baby unicorn.

But I thoroughly enjoyed all the parties that would have me. You see, for me Fashion Week harkens back to a mythical era in New York nightlife when you could hit two or three decent events a night, guzzle rivers of free booze and gobble enough cocktail weenies or mini Pop Burgers to make it through the evening. The Fashion Week party circuit is a welcome flashback to those decadent times, and that's why I love going to them like a clown loves riding a tiny bicycle.

I began my final fashion night out at a "presentation" at Milk Studios showcasing the work of 26-year-old designer Kimberly Ovitz, daughter of former Hollywood super agent Mike Ovitz. A presentation is where the models stand there wearing the designer's clothes for a few hours instead of strutting a catwalk, and where people can show up late and mingle. I asked billionaire Ron Perelman if he had a fun Fashion Week. "Years ago when I was younger and more adventuresome, I went to shows," the Prada-clad mogul told me. "I'm working too hard now. No parties, either. But I think any attention that can be given to the fashion industry is a welcome thing." I resisted the urge to hit him up for, like fifty bucks, and creepily crept over to Martin Scorsese.

This was kind of amazing because I had been thinking about Scorsese's Taxi Driver, particularly that Travis Bickle line about wishing for a rain to come and wash the scum off the streets, when Fifth Avenue was jammed with even more slow-moving tourists than usual courtesy of the consumerist dystopian nightmare that was Fashion Night Out. Scorsese said Ovitz's was the only show he had seen this week, even though he's always been fascinated by clothes.

"For me, what people wear is character, and costuming in film is as important as the actors, is as important as the story," the legendary director told me. "So over the years I've been drawn to many fashion figures, particularly Giorgio Armani, and others. I'm constantly amazed at the look, how fabric is used, and the extraordinary visual impact of a lot of what I see." That's all I got before he abruptly said "thanks" and walked away.

This was my first show since I sat front row at Heatherette in 2006 with a stripper I met while doing a story about Scores for GQ. (Perhaps my proudest Fashion Week memory). I had forgotten about all the bright and shiny spectacles you see while walking around a rag trade beehive like Milk Studios. Look, there's Anna Wintour in a snazzy snakeskin jacket coming out of the Proenza-Schouler room! OMG, it's Carmen Kass wearing a sparkly zebra-print dress! Holy hobgoblins, there's a bunch of bony models scurrying around backstage! It's kind of fascinating for about ten minutes, and then you want a beer.

I found a cold one at a funky little party at Milk for boho jeweler Pamela Love, where I met Andrew Mathers, a videographer for who films shows and interviews designers. "I've covered 60 shows and I can't remember any of them," he told me between swigs. "The Zac Posen show was cool. The Giorgio Armani after-party at Indochine had a great vibe. This will be my 7th year, my 14th season doing it. I really love it. Its just a way to indulge and escape from the reality of the world, which is what we need right now." Amen to that, brother. Clink!

Next thing I know I'm at Flannery's, an Irish pub on W. 14th Street, downing whiskey shots with a few pals. There were some ruddy-faced oldsters at the bar, but no models or designers, or anyone remotely attractive or even freshly-showered. We decided to relocate down the street to Norwood, a members-only establishment which is kind of a like a slightly more tolerable version of Soho House. I asked our waitress, Gisele, a pretty brunette wearing knee-high black stockings, if she had any enduring Fashion Week memories. "I went to the Marc Jacobs party and another party that my friend modeled at," she said. "There's a lot of parties and a lot of tourists in town. That's about it. I'm not really into fashion, I'm into music. I play bass in a band."

Seeing a band sounded like a good idea, so my boozy crew resolved to hit Santos Party House, where style website Refinery 29 was throwing a party that featured a performance by Of Montreal. Our decision was influenced by the fact that people had started moving away from our table after my friend, the wacky painter John Newsom, inexplicably began free-style rapping. Like, really loud. Before we left Norwood I asked BlackBook Media publisher Ari Horowitz to describe the strangest thing he witnessed during Fashion Week. "Probably some dude with a top hat and a really long coat running down the street in the West Village," he said. "My Fashion Week was relatively uneventful. But I loved it. It really energized New York." Hey, I'll drink to that! And then I did.

Of Montreal rocked so hard, they nearly blew my pants off. Their psychedelic party pop and cheesy laser light show bathed the crowd in good vibes. There was even a heart-shaped disco ball hanging over us. It seemed like a groovy ending to a long week of crazed party-hopping. But of course, it wasn't. We made more stops at Don Hill's, Avenue, and finally, Milady's, the beloved jukebox and pool table joint on Prince Street.

It was there at about 3 a.m. that I met Ronaldo Brunet, a 77-year-old artist and photographer originally from Chile. He wore a fedora and showed me drawings in his sketchbook at the bar. I'll give him the last word:

"I used to work in fashion. I used to photograph the beautiful women. I love looking at women. I love seeing them in their beautiful clothes. I love the little ones and the tall ones and the young ones. And that is Fashion Week. That is what you get to see. Just enjoy what you're doing, and do good things, that's all I can say."

Actually, I want the last word. Thanks for reading these posts. It's been a blast. Now, if you'll excuse me, this mannequin torso I ordered online isn't going to have sex with itself!

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