Sep 9, 2009

How to Survive Fashion Week, One Liza Minnelli Concert at a Time [Couture Crash]

Chris Wilson loves Fashion Week parties like unicorns love rainbows. But ten consecutive days of late-night bacchanalia can damage both body and soul. Last night he hit Paper's 25th Anniversary blowout to find out how to make it out alive.

Despite the current economic apocalypse, there are still places where semi-employed journalists like myself can suckle at the teat of an open bar, subside for days on passed hors d'oeuvres, and listen to the plaintive rumblings of famished supermodel stomachs, even when the DJ is playing Lady Gaga really loud. They're called Fashion Week parties, and Gawker has asked me to go to as many as I can stand.

Last night Paper magazine kicked off the liver-damaging fun with a 25th Anniversary blowout at the New York Public Library, where hundreds of invitees in "creative black tie," including Kanye West, Mischa Barton, Sean Lennon, Lydia Hearst, and a couple of Hanson brothers, jammed the lower level for live performances by the Virgins, Queen Latifah, and one Liza Minnelli. I'm not ashamed to say that I shed a tear into my black sequined handkerchief during her blustery rendition of "New York, New York." It was that good, even though I'm more of a Carol Channing fan.

But in between lurking near the Absolut-sponsored open bars and watching the towering drag queen Lady Bunny preen for photographers, I wondered how my already-decaying internal organs were going hold up over ten late nights as Gawker's Fashion Week Party Correspondent. Or why I agreed to do this in the first place. So I asked people for advice, and they tried to help. Really, they did. Basically it boils down to doing the right drugs, wearing the right shoes, and little bit of crying.

Mark Ronson, who was DJing between live sets, said that with the exception of his fashion designer sister Charlotte's after-party, he hadn't gotten many invites."The MisShapes and all those people get all the cool, trendy things. I had that era ten years ago. I'm not really that guy anymore. But I would just tell you: Adderall."

Fair enough, but that stuff keeps me up all night. I headed upstairs for a vodka and soda and bumped into Bob Morris, the author and former New York Times Sunday Styles columnist."This is a party in a library for people who don't read," he declared. Did he have any survival tips for me? "If you wear really neat shoes, they just fly you through the whole thing, with Anna Wintour-like gloss and grace. Also, do a lot of Ritalin."

Paper editorial director Mickey Boardman, rocking a "custom-made sparkle tuxedo" and glittery ballet slippers from Century 21, recommended watching reality TV. "I have to go home and watch a few hours of Food Network Challenge, to just like, you know, diffuse. It's my favorite show."

While puffing away outside, I was approached by Kenley Collins, the cat-throwing cutie from Project Runway, who was escaping the sweatiness inside. Did she have any tips for me? "I'm still reccuperating from Vegas," she said. "I showed at Magic. I'm only going to this and my own show's party. I'm doing one at TenJune and the Edison Ballroom. It's the 12th and the 16th. You should come." I promised I would if I wasn't already dead by then. What else is Kenley up to? "I'm pitching a reality show. Its following me and my support system and my entourage. It's like the real Entourage. It is going to be good." You know what? That actually sounds kind of awesome.

Also heading outside was Andrew WK, the rocker behind the anthem "Party Hard" and owner of Santos Party House. He was bound to have some good ideas."You have to wear a double pillow-cushioned insole," he advised. "You one to put at least one piece of lace on you, whether that's a woman's panty, or a male panty. A lace bra or a little doily in your purse or your pants pocket. You wanna lace up and you wanna put insoles in your shoes. Thanks for asking. I live in Times Square. And the fact that Fashion Week is happening is a great privilege of the neighborhood. Now go have some fun!"

Next I awkwardly sidled up to Kanye West, who was flanked by some beefy security dudes and his mohawked girlfriend, Amber Rose, who wore robotic-looking wrap-around shades. He leaned over my tape recorder and said, "I don't do any press." This rule, I can assure you, includes Gawker. The newly-single Topper Mortimer, in a crushed-velvet blazer with a blonde on his arm, was also wary. "I don't go to any of the parties. I wouldn't know where to start on tips." The gal with him said, "Drink a lot of water!"

Shortly before Liza came on, kewpie-lipsticked fashion scribe Lynn Yaeger told me: "Don't be ashamed to cry. It's very rough. I try to be home by 10 o'clock. If you go to the parties and the shows, you'll never get any work done. But this party is really fun."

I ordered yet another vodka and soda next to Fern Mallis, the IMG senior v.p. who is credited with creating Fashion Week. She was sipping a flute of Champagne and agreed with Andrew W.K. Sort of. "Wear comfortable shoes. Forget all those platform monstrosities.You've got to drink lots of water. You need to get a little sleep and you need to be hydrated. That really helps."

But it was Ira Silverberg, the noted literary agent for "The Game" author Neil Strauss and many other writers, who really laid it out for me.

"Take a lot of Niacin in the morning," he said. "There's a fizzy vitamin called Berocca. Never drink too much coffee. It's harder on the system than the booze is. But the truth is, I don't go out during Fashion Week. That's the secret: Don't go out during Fashion Week! It's like amateur night. It's like New Year's Eve in Times Square. It's a bunch of fucking people from Jersey, who like, throw up their dinner, and are wearing knock-off shoes. That's what Fashion Week is all about."

Thanks, Ira, but I won't be taking your advice. Except for maybe the Niacin part.

Photos by 217design/Liz Brown

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