Spectacle, arriviste or not, was a rarity this New York Fashion Week. Party heavyweights like Alexander Wang, Rihanna, Public School and Purple magazine were absent from the social calendar.
There were rappers, drifts of artificial snow and a smoke-belching UFO that descended from the ceiling.
“I’ve partied here before,” said Joakim Noah, the New York Knicks center, who stripped to an undershirt in a VIP area. “But I’ve never seen it like this.”
Spectacle, arriviste or not, was a rarity this New York Fashion Week. Party heavyweights like Alexander Wang, Rihanna, Public School and Purple magazine were absent from the social calendar. Others found smaller confines: Opening Ceremony hosted a Barragán party at the Standard High Line, Garage magazine parked in the Gramercy Park Hotel’s Rose Bar, and Last magazine hermit-crabbed into a Brooklyn beer hall with Burberry.
New York Fashion Week is both a corporate-fueled vehicle and a fractured vessel in a shifting industry. Brands are moving off-calendar, debuting lines on Instagram and decamping to European cities. Is the late-night scene slipping through the cracks?
“You can’t have these giant parties and go back to something small,” said Paul Sevigny, the DJ and impresario behind Paul’s Cocktail Lounge in TriBeCa, which hosted an intimate event for Calvin Klein. “Fashion week used to be for people who were involved in fashion, not your Googles.”
Wang’s show was also on Saturday. Instead of unfurling a #Wangfest with Kardashians, Cardi B and Dunkin’ Donut towers, as he did in September, he and his retinue ended up at the Brooklyn Bazaar in Greenpoint for a dance party hosted by the Lot Radio, an internet station that operates from a shipping container.
There, Brian Procell, who runs a vintage boutique specializing in 1990s paraphernalia, suggested designers were rebelling against the fashion week grind. “It makes more sense not to follow these schedules,” he said. “Azzedine Alaïa was the first outlier for how people act now. Kanye is just going to do his thing when he’s ready.”
Some parties were bolstered by ties to pop culture. On Monday, film and fashion gathered for a charity collection inspired by “Black Panther” at Industria in the West Village. Lupita Nyong’o, who stars in the movie, walked the red carpet; Heron Preston DJed; and fashion designers unveiled their looks.
Ruth Gruca, the global fashion director of Made, said it felt like a slow week, party-wise. “February fashion week is a little irrelevant,” she said, as she was leaving to check out the Barragán event nearby. “New York is kind of in fluctuation. A lot of brands are showing in Paris because that’s where the commerce happens.”
Later, at Terminal 5 in Hell’s Kitchen, VFiles and Adidas Originals went experimental, marrying a live photo shoot with a party. As tunes from Lil Uzi Vert and Crime Mob blared, models sat for makeup on the stage and posed in front of white backdrops and lighting umbrellas.
Nats Getty, a designer, activist and artist, praised the spontaneity of VFiles’ multidimensional format. “I love it,” she said. “It’s in the moment. That’s how everything should be. It’s genius.”
The week’s most distinctly homegrown event took place on Friday, when the designer Telfar Clemens threw an after-party at Century 21, the discount department store in the financial district. Fashionable guests including Kelela, Maluca and Raul Zepol filled up several floors of the cleared-out store as drum-and-bass clattered.
“I have a lot of roots here,” Clemens said. “I went to Pace University. I would come here in between classes to find everything designer that I couldn’t afford.”This article originally appeared in The New York Times.