The art of parties and beyond

MARCH 24 - APRIL 2, 2008

Haidee Findlay-Levin gets a shot in the Armory...

With my boomerang flu hitting me, again, as I came come home from an exhausting trip to Europe, I hoped to slip quietly and unnoticed back into the fabric of New York. I had visions of hunkering down into what I call business bed—and I don’t mean that in the money-on-the-dresser sense. Instead, I returned right at the start of the Armory Show, a week-long flurry of launches and parties around town, art and otherwise. Naturally, I couldn't miss it.

Making it to a group show at Terence Koh's space—Asia Song Society, aka ASS—was easy enough as I live right next door. And I've learned that if there's something going on there, it's better to join in the festivities than wonder when the noise will end. So I went with my dear Brazilian friends Marcelo Krasilcic and Renata Abbade, as well as fellow stylist JJ Farer. In the exhibit, Sack of Bones, I saw works by some of the old bones who used to show there, when it was Michelle Maccarone gallery, one of the first to occupy the Chinatown/LES neighborhood. While winding my way through the floors, I caught up with my neighbor Felix Burrichter, editor of Pin-Up, the new architecture magazine, and journalist friends Adriano Sack (German Vanity Fair) and Frank Hornig, whom Marcelo and I shot for a past issue of Fantastic Man. I also ran into the wonderfully exotic Avena Gallagher, of Preen magazine, wrapped in head-to-toe fur (I have very different memories of her dancing, scantily clad, at La Caverna a few summers ago). The evening evolved into dinner with most of the aforementioned, plus the talented make-up artist Maki Ryoke, the other token female.

Ignoring what was now a full flu relapse, I set out again on Thursday night with designer Tom Scott and art editor Aric Chen to no fewer than five parties, beginning with the new Acne store on Greene Street in Soho. I was happy to see the Acne team again and told Thomas Persson, editor-in-chief and creative director of Acne Paper (one of my favorite publications despite its unfortunate name!) that I'm practically an Acne groupie. I had already attended their event in Paris to celebrate the Gentleman's jean, a collaboration with those Fantastic men Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom, and the week after that I attended Acne Paper's Exotic issue launch at Claridge's in London. And here I was again, this time in New York. I've decided to hold back (and, actually, an expired French visa prevents me) from showing up at their new store opening at the Palais Royal in Paris, which would certainly have confirmed my stalker status. Anyway, the brightly lit store, situated in the former Cloak space, was filled with all an Acne fan could desire. Not much of a jeans-wearer, I had my eye on a flesh-colored silk T-shirt and a black pair of wedge booties. I spoke to photographer Andreas Larsson, a regular Acne contributor, and Carol Kim and Humberto Leon, who seemed excited about the next event at his store Opening Ceremony, a meet-and-greet with Chinese director Wong Kar-Wai.

Next stop, the M/M (Paris) installation a few doors down at USM Modular Furniture. There, I ran into casting director Daniel Peddle, with whom I love to catch up and have a good industry moan, but was delighted to hear he had shot and put together his own book of photos. I ran into Alex Galan of DAP and caught up with him about my own publisher’s meeting the week before in Bologna, Italy, which he had arranged. Joining up with a gang of editors, including Hint's own Lee Carter, T's Armand Limnander and Hamish Bowles of Vogue, we set off toward Chelsea in a convoy to celebrate the launch of Style.com writer Laird Borrelli's third book on fashion illustration. Third? And here I was still in talks about my first. The party was full of designers and fashion peeps. I spoke to Phillip Lim and Richard Chai, and a had quick catch-up with Sue Stemp, who was accompanied by Olivier Van Der Velde, a dear friend from my early days in London, now working full time on shows and events for Alexander McQueen. I also ran into Albertus Swanepoel, the very talented milliner of Marc by Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler and now Alexander Wang. South African, Albertus was a renowned fashion designer in his own right while I was growing up there, and pretty much introduced me to fashion. I took great pleasure in sharing the news of my recently received green card, knowing he could appreciate my relief. His card, after all, had taken eleven years to my four and a half.

We then headed back to Soho, first to the Converse party, where loud music and alcohol were by now flowing freely through everyone’s veins. There, we collected Casey Spooner, Marcelo and a few others and walked to Submercer for the launch of the new issue of ME magazine in collaboration with Rodarte's Mulleavy sisters. I was happy to see Chris Bollen out celebrating his new position as editor-in-chief of the revamped Interview. He was in top form and anticipating the big change. Yet I noticed, hollering above the music in the packed-to-capacity space, that I had barely enough voice left to instruct the taxi driver home.

When I woke up Friday morning, it was clear it would another business bed day—until, that is, it was time to make it over to Dan Colen and Nate Lowman’s opening at the new Michelle Maccarone location. The show was a hit. I loved the installation of auto bodies juxtaposed with provocative posters and cardboard cutouts, i.e. a life-size Josh Hartnett in boxers and Tom Ford under the hood of a car. I was also impressed with Nate’s taste level in lingerie, which comprised the other part of the show: teddies and bras from Kiki de Montparnasse and Agent Provocateur mixed with re-appropriated slogan tees. If not confirmed already, fashion and art truly are bedfellows. I couldn’t help but wonder who had provided him with so intimate an education.

I rounded out my art weekend with a wonderful brunch at Freeman’s with Thomas from Acne Paper (okay, so I'm a groupie, its confirmed), who was completely partied-out. We eventually made it up to the main event of the week, the Armory Show, where a VIP card helped us avoid the endless line to get in. It was bustling inside and quite overwhelming. We pretty much loved everything, but especially the glass Pygmies dressed in tribal costumes. My darker side responded to Jenny Holzer’s ticker-tape messages about the horrors of war, while my sense of humor was piqued by a screening of ballerinas performing an erotic ballet. There were many other high points and we had a great time getting lost in it all while finding inspiration for his next issue. I ran into Danko Steiner, art director of American Vogue, and his wife Anna. Danko and I "did" the show last year, so it was fitting to see him there again. I was also very happy to run into Cay Sophie Rabinowitz, creative director of Art Basel, with whom I shared a beach house last summer. We're trying to do it again, but her crazy cross-continental schedule makes mine look like a walk in the park.

I rushed downtown to artists Frank Selby's show at Museum 52 on Rivington Street, the newly opened New York outpost of the hot London gallery. Stylists Masha Orlov and Christopher Niquet, accompanied by his dog Betty Blue, popped in as well. But soon I had to dash to dinner with Malcolm McLaren and his girlfriend Young Kim, who were leaving town the next day. During their long stay in New York, they were kind enough to loan me their apartment in Paris, with its view of the Sacré-Coeur and the rooftops of Montmartre. I felt like I was in a scene from Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge!

I closed out the art weekend first with Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which I still hadn’t seen. It's such a beautifully shot and imagined film that the images have remained with me for days. Then I ended up at a get-together chez Marcelo, where various people dropped by, from a very exhausted Eli Sudbrack (pictured, with Carla Machado) of Assume Vivid Astro Focus, who had survived the installation of a huge piece at the Deitch space at the Armory, to Slava Mogutin, who showed us a sneak preview of his newest porn video. The wonderfully talented jewelry designer Phillip Crangi, too, stopped in. The week had come full circle, a dizzying mix of art, fashion and too much partying so typical of New York. Welcome home, me. I could always recover next week.

—Haidee Findlay-Levin



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