While I was dashing reportage into my vodka-wet annual day planner, I kept ticking little dots of indigo ink onto the page, trying to remember what this whole charade reminded me of. It wasn’t until the next morning, sore from the open bar and its tenders who clearly weren’t hired for their mixology skills, that I remembered. The violet and aquamarine, the plasticity and waxed grooming, the ‘90s retrofuturism, the jumbo screens, the hierarchical stage design, the voice booming over loudspeaker, “AAAND NOW, GRIMES.”
Hunger Games, duh!
Would that I had a more cultured reference, but this is Versus Versace in the 21st century (Rodarte, Black Swan; Balenciaga, Twilight; Chanel, Anna Karenina; Prada, The Great Gatsby; Versace, Hunger Games).
“Thank you, Donatella!” Claire ‘Grimes’ Boucher squealed as she waved adorably off of one of four stages. During Grimes’s set, Donatella appeared in a glass cage to watch her hired pop ingenue play, but immediately all nearby eyes and cameras turned towards the Italian designer. Donatella is the real rockstar. Who wears leather better? Around the same time as Donatella’s Instagram photo op, someone sparked up a joint. The cigarettes had been going all night, because we own this shit, but the waft of my favorite skunk meant it was a real party #madchill.
Okay, let’s get this over with. Who: Donatella Versace and Jonathan (W.) Anderson with performances by Maxwell, Dead Sara, Grimes, and the rapper Angel Haze. What: a runway presentation and launch party for J.W. Anderson’s one-off capsule collection collaboration with Donatella’s little sister line, Versus Versace. When: last night into this morning. Where: the Lexington Avenue Armory in Midtown East, New York, NY. Why: “The young heart of Versace is getting a rebellious new look. Iconic, seasonless fashion for those that experiment in life, in love, in style.”
The only other times I’ve been in the Lexington Avenue Armory have been for MoCCA Fest, an arty comic-con that I booth bitch every year for Drawn & Quarterly. When I first swept through the Armory last night, I laughed at how different the place seemed than MoCCA. I got caught in the center of a powwow between Hanne Gaby Whatever and many other models in heels, male and female. 5’4 in my Nikes, I couldn’t see anything but rib bone. (At MoCCA, the guy that Comic Book Guy was based off of wears a Superman t-shirt and steampunk isn’t a joke.) By around 11:30pm last night, though, when the rumors of a Lady Gaga performance echoed loudest (no show), the Versus party started to look a lot like a comic con.
The freaks were out. LA cellulite in a creeping mini skirt. Tyra Sanchez or a great impersonator (of an impersonator, what’s better?). Wednesday Addams with a monster of a septum piercing. David Toro with the sexiest dance moves. A pregnant, lesbian Alanis Morissette lookalike. A topless Jeffrey Wright type in costume jewelry. My once-upon-a-time fellow intern from VFiles; looking good ;). Susie Bubble. WOODY ALLEN.
Kinbaku rope bondage beneath a sleeveless blazer. Boy belly tops. Top-to-toe bottle print PJs, vintage Gianni. Cabaret Minnelli leotard and tights. Margiela! How many pairs of sweaty balls beneath how many pairs of leather pants? Safety pins, safety pins, safety pins. Huge pillow tits in Courtney Love grunge. Dance!
The air inside was sticky, smoky, and perfumed. Outside, it was neutral, perfect. Beyond the tented entrance, a black Nissan Altima was parked. Four dewy partygoers reunited there at half past midnight. “It was corny fo’ sho,” said the most outlandishly dressed John Waters whoa-man of the night, “I kept calling it a Zoolander event.” Bridge and tunnel kids making a mockery of a mockery. Four blocks south, a teenage boy tells me I’m “beautiful as fuck.”
The collection—it’s J.W., it’s fantastic. I’d buy it all if I got paid what Claire did playing those four songs. But—tap, tap, tap—I don’t. Instead, I took home two bags of complimentary doughnuts and a gold Medusa head safety pin. Beautiful as fuck.