Stylist’s Kitty McGee steers clear of the tourist track and tastes the fashionable New Yorker’s New York
In recent years, there’s been a dramatic shift in the way travellers seek to experience cities. Out are the lengthy treks from one postcard landmark to the next. Instead, smart travellers select a neighbourhood, immerse themselves in it, and come away feeling like they’ve made a corner of NYC, Paris or London their home. The joy of New York, in particular, is you can have a new city every time you visit. And this being Fashion Week, there’s no question which Big Apple we want: the fash-pack’s NYC.
Each Fashion Week has its own identity, and thanks to New York’s warm September evenings, plethora of achingly cool places to go and the fact it comes first (so fitting for such a trend-setting city), it’s about cramming in as much as possible, from countless shows to the coolest hang-outs. To enable this, a base bang in the middle of things is essential. So while Brooklyn’s Williamsburg might be hipster-cool, during Fashion Week everything happens downtown, so we go for the legendary Tribeca Grand on Avenue Of The Americas, a striking triangular building a stone’s throw from Spring Studios, a creative hub where Calvin Klein is showing its spring collection. Unveiled in 2000, the Grand was the first landmark hotel in Manhattan’s historic Tribeca (‘Triangle Below Canal Street’) district, with ‘brunch at the Grand’ – a locally sourced feast set to live jazz – quickly becoming a NYC institution and the hotel’s Church Bar establishing itself as a hub for the area’s film, fashion and music industry faces, (who multiply during the Tribeca Film Festival and NYFW).
The Church Bar will soon have some sibling rivalry, however, thanks to the imminent opening of the Grand’s new cocktail bar, Paul’s Baby Grand, the first solo venture by DJ Paul Sevigny (brother of Chloë) who has been behind a handful of NYC hotspots (Kenmare, Beatrice Inn). It’s not open until late Autumn though, so on arrival – surprisingly fresh after our Virgin Atlantic flights (that’ll be the champagne) – we stick to the Church Bar for a relaxing Sweet Jane (gin, cardamom infused honey and lemon juice). And we challenge anyone to sip a cocktail here – the staff are endearingly cheerful, the service American-grade slick – and complain about jetlag.
Upstairs, the Grand works its space hard with modernist furniture and retro prints (Malin+Goetz bathroom goodies as the cherry on top). But with a hectic schedule of shows and two of New York’s best shopping areas right on our doorstep (the hotel borders SoHo and Tribeca) time in our room is at a minimum.
After a morning dashing between appointments, we make time to visit local store Korin (where fashionable foodies buy Japanese knives), followed by impeccably curated boutique Steven Alan (Engineered Garments, Band Of Outsiders). For a quick panini head to Cavaniola’s in Franklin Street’s food market All Good Things (Jake Gyllenhaal is a regular), before venturing to Creatures of Comfort, the Nolita outpost of the LA boutique famed for showcasing up-andcoming designers. It’s 2,300 square feet of designware, cutting-edge fashion (Rachel Comey, Christian Wijnants, Pamela Love) and one-off accessories sourced from Morocco. And all just a short walk from Le Labo scent store, where wafts of Santal 33 (Chloë Sevigny’s favourite perfume) revive us. A 15-minute march will then take you to Bleecker Street, home to the Marc Jacobs outlet store and brand new Marc Jacobs Beauty (for us at least), before it’s back into the Fashion Week fray.
At New York the shows can go until 10pm so the crowds of stylists, editors, buyers and designers head straight out afterwards for drinks, dinner and more drinks. In addition to the Tribeca Grand, Fashion Week action centres around the Ace Hotel in Midtown and The James and 60 Thompson in SoHo, both within walking distance. The Ace might just win in the dining stakes, with the options of a meat feast at The Breslin gastropub or the John Dory Oyster bar.
Traditionally, 60 Thompson is the base for fashion faces like Marc Jacobs and Rachel Zoe during NYFW but, rudely, the roof deck is only open to guests. All isn’t lost, though, as the MJ design team head to Hotel Giraffe for a drink after the shows – where friends of Jacobs like Kim Gordon and Michael Pitt have been known to join them. A quick cab ride away, the Meatpacking District is still a NYFW hub, with the fashion pack queuing for Cookshop’s $6 wagyu steak sliders, then moving on to The Jane and Soho House New York, both home to a relaxed, stylish vibe.
This being the city that never sleeps, despite being out until 1am, some are up for a 6am SoulCycle class at the Tribeca studio (Lena Dunham was there recently) and then it’s on to the nearest Juice Press for a reviving Fountain Of Youth smoothie. Come day four of Fashion Week, the telltale sign of an exhausted fashionista is a pressed juice in one hand and a vat of La Colombe coffee in the other.
Post-smoothie, take time for another NYFW tradition: the blowout (that’s blow-dry to us). DreamDry (co-owned by Rachel Zoe) in Chelsea does a roaring trade in 20-minute express blowouts, but Drybar Tribeca was our local. It opens at 7am, screens Ryan Gosling movies (how perfect?) and $40 transforms your hair into the sort of sleek, voluminous do that Drybar fans Zooey Deschanel and Cindy Crawford have made famous. Now we’re ready to do it all again...