New York Fashion Week has a center and that center is the machine. It gets so loud during Fashion Week you can literally hear it vibrating under the aspalt and concrete. The designers with their power stylists in their studios frantically fitting and refitting, recutting, rethinking , while the sewing machines hum and the VP waits downstairs, in vain, for the delivery of the shoes. And the models? For the models and their poor bookers, it is the mind numbing parade of casting-call back-fitting-confirmation-hair test-cancellation-make-up test-confirmation and then finally the 10 minute show . I like the machine. It is a hard working machine. It sucks us all up into the vortex of the backstage and the front row and the catwalk. It sizzles and crackles and buzzes and you run even though you're not sure why. Why do the kids run when one show ends? Does it make you look important to run for the exits before the house lights go up? I like the machine with its familiar hum. But this season something caught my eye. The parties at the peripheries. Not the power parties you see on style.com but the parties on the fringes powered by people not necessarily in fashion, but the species well stocked with cash, trying to get close to the heat and hum of the machine.
Take Justin for instance and his Saturday night birthday party in a Tribeca high rise . Justin is some kind of dashing young Consul General who owns piles of bars and event spaces in London. JL Legend , a rogue I know calls me to come see since its only 5 blocks from my crib. So there we are at this 41st Floor apartment overlooking the fitful construction down there in Ground Zero. The wind off the river is numbingly cold but the terrace is the only escape from an insane mob inside the tricked out bachelor pad just beyond the sliding glass door. There's an unoccupied hot tub. But give it time. It's that kind of night. As I had come off the elevator someone had given me a VIP pass for the Sky (or was it Skyy) bar in London. As in...see you next week in London. Same crowd...different city. Justin has hired performers from the Cirque du Soliel to spice things up. Contortionists in the middle of the dance floor being photographed by a ring of revelers bearing cameraphones....Girls twirling fire-sticks...magicians flossing with card tricks. There were models but none we know from the runway and there were fleets of 90's party promoters coming up to say hi and pretty girls were getting pulled over to couches by skinny boys for high-visibility lip locks. At one point a clique of Uptown boys, all hoodies and those funny Tims with the big sheepskin cuffs roll through and take over the DJ deck and one starts rapping over the track for "Ghetto Superstar" and I think..."I wonder if he's Pras?" And indeed it is Pras.They are spectacular gay boys, one in a full-on fur chubbie draped over his shoulder . There's one epicene young thing standing , hands on waist staring out the window. I do a double take because I recognize his jacket and he acknowledges my double take with a haughty turn of the head as if to say "Yes bitch it IS a Rad Hourani and I have to giggle to myself.
I usually don't like other people's parties in New York. In Paris I can let it go, because hedonism is a cause and I respect the commitment of the French to social grandeur. This is the cliche you wish for as a tourist and you will get it in spades at Dave's , at Caviar Kaspia , in the courtyard of Costes for lunch. In Kingston or Santo Domingo I can sweat and not care because no-one's looking and I am a refuge from the Empire of Image . But I've recently not liked the clubs of New York. Not The Boom Boom room. Not The Rose Bar. Not that new thing at The Mondrian...frankly nothing since Beatrice Inn. And then Weds night Josh and Laurence (who do the men's line Rochambeau) call up and say I should come check out Serge Becker's and Binn's new thing, Miss Lily's for the Rochambeau post-presentation dinner they were throwing with an outfit called RJW.
Miss Lily's has a Jamaican theme and Josh and Laurence think perhaps there's some kind of organic synergy there. I sigh , expecting a bad Negril redux . Walking down West Houston in the chill wind, I stop at a deli and grab a protein bar...just in case. At the nondescript door of Miss Lilly's is a very severe doorman with a very short-list. I dip inside and stop in dis-orientation. Like one of those humble restaurants in a Half Way Tree shopping plaza with the little orange formica tables and the stiff little plastic seats...much like a little Jamaican food shop at the corner of Nostrand and Prospect Place in Crown Heights where the customers know the exact price of chicken per pound ...Miss Lilly's is the simulacrum that got it down. The Pickapeppa saunce....The scotch bonnet pepper in the oxtail dish.... Hellshire fish.... Vibez Kartel on the soundtrack...Everything I've glossed over in all those years has resurfaced as the definition of au courant Downtown Cool. Pat McGrath will live and all those kids, Scott Lipps, Bianca Kosoy, (the fetching Creative Director at Equinox) Richie Akiva, Mark Squiers with the required piles of models, all the lovely refugees from The Empire Of Image, are already in the mix! I have to giggle to myself.