The Punch Does NYC/Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

photographer Bill Cunningham

Bill Cunningham (famous award winning fashion photographer of New York Times)

Until last Tuesday, I was a Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (or #MBFW on Twitter) virgin – actually that applies to any Fashion Week – then with the help of a quick Acela trip, I was transformed into a newbie, a college freshman, a child visiting FAO Schwarz for the first time. You know, it’s hard to act cool when you are surrounded by Fashion Week veterans and people who are so settled in or on the cutting edge of style.  I felt like I had just gotten off the bus from Iowa or something. Also, the thing about New York City, is well, no one has time for you and no one really cares.  Money is the true power currency and looking good, wearing it well and being able to talk knowledgeably about fashion during this week comes with the territory, or buddy, move right along.  Actually, I hadn’t been up to NYC for a few years, I used to frequent, but this time, I came with new lenses.  I wasn’t with a bunch of my gal pals giggling and imbibing the whole way up and only caring about the hot place to dine, see and be seen, clubbing, and all that stuff. No, this time, I was here on business.  CIRCA, a Punch Partner, I was informed, had their Accessories Salon for the 2nd time and I was to be there and as their guest at J. Mendel.

CORE Club

CORE Club Basquiat Suite

I was the guest of a dear friend at the exclusive Core Club located midtown on the east side. The members-only club has tons of amenities available in the original-art filled space, including “suites” for those who need to find a pillow to rest her weary head.  Over 50 master works which are regularly rotated birth an extreme personality to the chic and contemporary feel.  There’s a salon, spa, expansive bar/lounge and patio restaurant, screening room and more. Later, we would come back to the Core for The Global Party (80 parties around the world in 24 hours) hosted by Jason and Haley Binn (Jason being the founder of Niche Media, LLC).  But for now, we got settled and took a glass of white wine and Champagne in the lounge, and then while my friend hit the Oscar de la Renta show, I headed back to my suite (the Basquiat) to shower and change for dinner at The Lion in Greenwich Village with other lady friends, each of whom call the fashion world their home. Post dinner was kind of a debacle, as we met up with more girls and next thing you know, we were at The Standard with part of the group upstairs at a party and part downstairs and outside with “no way in hell are you getting in here if you are not on the list” greeting us at the front.

J. Mendel 2011 Fall Fashion Week

typical pre-show chaos at the J. Mendel show

J. Mendel 2011 Fall Fashion Week

the Olsen twins look on from the front row at J. Mendel

J. Mendel 2011 Fall Fashion Week

Lauren Ezersky (Behind the Velvet Rope) at J. Mendel

J. Mendel 2011 Fall Fashion Week

actress Selma Blair in the middle with dark hair

Not to fret, I needed a few hours of beauty sleep, so I hopped in a cab and headed back to the East side.  The next day, we had to pack up and leave our luggage with the concierge so we could make it to the 1pm J. Mendel show at Lincoln Center, where the hub of Fashion Week was.  There, the CIRCA Accessories Salon sat filled with spectacular jewels and pieces made by Ruby Kobo, whose two designers Yuvi Alpert and Danna Kobo, were in the salon that day. Beth Godrey of CIRCA told me that each day of the week, they had a different jewelry designer in, as they work with CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America). It gave all parties a good platform on which to showcase their works and to talk about the partnership.  Directly across the wide open hall was the “CIRCA Story” in glass (and carefully guarded) displays. This also was a unique and creative way to share how CIRCA came to be, where they are now and headed and what they can do for their special clientele. The pieces within each enclosure were probably worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.  They were just stunning and from all different eras with bright and shiny gems mesmerizing us.

CIRCA @ 2011 Fall Fashion Week

CIRCA Accessories Salon

CIRCA @ 2011 Fall Fashion Week

black diamonds anyone? Ruby Kobo at the CIRCA Accessories Salon

CIRCA @ 2011 Fall Fashion Week

Ruby Koby designer Yuvi Alpert talks with a guest

The J. Mendel show was cool to see, it would be my first and last designer show of the week, but that was ok.  I was there more for the people watching by that time and lucky for me, I had actress Selma Blair, the Olsen twins (who looked like mini-Anna Wintours in their shades and poses) and a few other pop culture denizens in the front row to stare at, while down the way, I spotted wildly dressed Lauren Ezersky of “Behind the Velvet Rope”.  After the show, we moved to the CIRCA Salon then made our way to the offices to meet with Chris Del Gatto.  We toured the space which was under construction because of the company expanding, and then went into his office which was filled with framed photos of he and model/actress/entrepreneur Veronica Webb as well as Nacho Figueras the Ralph Lauren “Black” polo model, a polo trophy (Chris plays polo and the CIRCA team won the Hamptons tournament this year: “that’s a small one, the real one is huge and is on its way, we only keep it for the year,” he explained).

CIRCA @ 2011 Fall Fashion Week

rubies and diamonds and...oh my! The CIRCA Story told in glass enclosed cases

CIRCA @ 2011 Fall Fashion Week

more pieces which were clients' at the CIRCA Story

We talked about D.C., some great opportunities and collaborative ideas incorporating fashion, jewelry, and charity and we learned the CIRCA’s plan isn’t just to expand within the building we were in, but to continue its reach nationally and globally (they already have offices throughout the world).  L.A. was on the list, thank goodness.  After hugging and shaking hands we walked out to grab a bite to eat (we were starving) at Fred’s at Barney’s.  How perfect for ladies who lunch and shop, except we’d done no shopping yet.  Then we quickly walked back to the Core Club to grab our goods and head to the Dream Downtown Hotel (the hottest hotel, the hottest property! we were told) to check in. We had barely enough time to unpack and shower because again, we had plans to be somewhere in 2 minutes.

We met some friends of my friend from Nantucket at The Mark Hotel, joining them for a few cocktails then we had to boogie to have dinner at Casa Lever (the hottest restaurant, the hottest place to dine! we were told) where our large group which was strongly encouraged by management to sit outside, did so.  I had a chance to check out the inside to the hip dining room and bar and definitely saw a difference in the energy, partially because they probably all had long standing (or “in’s”) reservations.  Ours was long standing, just had been with a group of four, not the explosion of an end-resulting large party.  Long into the night we amused each other with tales; one in our company was acclaimed spy/thriller author Ted Bell, who was just fascinating.  My friend Pirooz PRZMan(who told Ted his father was a huge fan of his books) was there, which was a pleasant surprise.  The group began to break up, as most had important things to do the next day and some of us decided (since we were in another city besides “home”) to stroll over to the St. Regis, where we stared at the original Maxfield Parrish Art Nouveau masterpiece (the mural behind the bar of King Cole’s bar) in awe.  With a second wind at our sails we stayed long into the night not forgetting NYC is a 24 hour town, but my friend and I chose to call it.

As we walked back into the Dream Downtown, we noted that the party was still raging and finagled (ok, we asked politely, and even then it was difficult) our way up to the top floor, but not first without going up to our rooms to freshen up and check our makeup.  On our way back down to the main floor, where you have to change elevators and show the stringent security your stamp (even POTUS couldn’t get up there without a stamp), we ran into well, one of the Olsen twins, who was so tiny and sorry, not sorry, still cute.  She stood next to a tall young man and my girlfriend inquired, “Were you at the J. Mendel show today?” And Ashley/Mary-Kate laughed and said, yes, she was. Then I asked, “You were wearing sunglasses!” And again, Mary-Kate/Ashley smiled the famous grin that made them so famous while on “Full House” and said, “Yeah, it was really bright up there…” Oh yes, sitting in the front row of a New York City J. Mendel Fashion Week Show while being worth and earning hundreds of millions of dollars  … it’s pretty damn bright, all right.

After being cleared through security, we headed up to check out the scene, where everyone was waif-like skinny, men included (seriously, does anyone eat in this town?), drinking from table service and dancing on the couches and tables.  My 5-Hour Energy had kicked in and I was ready to go, as in “enjoy the moment.”  We wandered to the outdoor area, admiring the city views and sat, chatting with strangers who seemed as friendly as mid-west folk, all though with distinguable New York accents.  I learned that most every guy was in the private equity and investment banking world and some other types of industries, but these other types, well, of course the men, run them/own them.  You aren’t going to be some schmuck hanging out at “the hottest hotel at the hottest party” at 2am while working a normal job like, oh, a sales rep or an accountant.  And even if you were, you’d not be telling anyone that’s what you did.  Unless you had a trust fund and then anything is ok, including being a professional cereal taste tester.

at Lincoln Center for CIRCA and New Yorkers for Children Celebrate Sophie Theallet

at Lincoln Center for CIRCA and New Yorkers for Children Celebrate Sophie Theallet

The next day was my one day to get work done from abroad (that’s how I feel when I’m in NYC now, like I’m in another country) so I slept in.  The Dream Downtown is true to its marketing, that bed is all about putting you out for a long time. After a day of trying to play catch up while chowing on room service, suddenly it was the bewitching hour of putting myself together to go to yet another party, this time, we were headed back to Lincoln Center for the New Yorkers for Children reception hosted by CIRCA and honoring designer Sophie Theallet.  Amazingly, the unseasonable summer heat had dissipated that the city had experienced the day before had left and was replaced with cool rain. Thank goodness I had thought to pack my Violanti black trench, a piece I’d picked up while in Paris last year during les soldes.  I’ll use this for my Wales global blogger trip, I thought to myself with a nod.  Decked out in a one armed black cocktail dress (and my friend in a killer Alexander McQueen) we were off to the event.

The CORE Club's Global Party

the world's youngest DJ? well whatever, he was up past my bed time and hittin' the tunes

The CORE Club's Global Party

rockin out at the Core Club's Global Party

We met Sophie Theallet and watched her show which had been taped earlier, on the screen, mingled with guests, even ran into some people we’d dined with a previous night.  Then we were off to the next spot, the Global Party at the Core Club.  Words cannot even describe this event.  All I can say, is that for what the Global Party was touting itself to be, I think it ranked right up there with what it was supposed to be.  First, this was at the Core Club and 2) B, it was being hosted by Jason Binn and say what you want to about his enthusiasm for celebrities, he can throw a damn good party. Always has, always will (think Capitol File, Gotham).  There were top shelf open bars on every floor with themes throughout the rooms, plenty of staff to guide your way through the halls and serve you drinks and food, a kitchen that kept cooking delicious butler passed delights, a tequila tasting bar (actually several), live performances everywhere, a DJ, the world’s youngest DJ, singers, bands, a dance floor, more bartenders and drinks around every corner, a casino floor, an air of sophistication and an energy of easy pleasure, and even a few show business stars like “Precious” star Gabourey Sidibe and Stephanie March from “Law & Order: SVU” (I wanted to say, hey Alex! I just was watching you today during the USA Law & Order marathon)… she’s also the wife of renown chef/restaurateur/TV personality, Bobby Flay.  Most of the women appeared naturally very cosmopolitan, a well-stiletto heeled stylish set with diamonds and emeralds, slick long dark hair and designer dresses that hugged their slim curves, and the men, well, the men. I mean, the men. They wore suits that were tailored to a tee, had glowing skin, walked with confidence, had teeth that would make any dentist proud of his work.  They looked like models, well hell, everyone did.  It was one hell of a good looking crowd who was there to have fun. But the night was not over yet, au contraire mon frere. It was onto meeting up with more friends at The Four Seasons then across the street to Lava Lounge, which was so clearly representative of a Vegas club, I thought I had actually been transported across the country.  The dancers (as in the pros) were on the platforms with zebra heads (that’s the new thing, animal heads on almost gorgeous almost naked dancing bodies) and everyone was jumping and waving their arms around.  We took that as as hint to head back to home base, as it was our last night in the grand old city during #MBFW.

Dream Downtown

walking into my room at the Dream Downtown

Dream Downtown

a very dreamy bed, the staff leave a note telling guests what to expect for weather and a bottle of Voss each night

Dream Downtown

the best shower on the planet - or at least for this week

I’ll be back up again, I mean, I think I’m falling in love with the city.  So different than L.A. (yes, I know, L.A. is sunny, healthy, happy) but this contrast amongst D.C., NYC and L.A that I’m uncovering personally is quite intriguing.  As a participant observer, at the very least, it will serve as some interesting chapters in my book.

About Pamela Sorensen:
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.
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